Three Things: Eff These Effing Effers

That mealy-mouthed compromised weasel Lindsey Graham spent a lot of time whining on the Sunday talk show circuit this weekend.

Somebody out there has the dirt on Graham. Just. Spill. It. Find a vehicle to do the job, get yourself clear, and let it rip because all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, are going to spend too much time mopping up Lindsey’s alligator tears if his personal problem isn’t addressed out in the open.

He wouldn’t be doing all this whining about Democrats and backstabbing his own party if he was hidey-holed trying to lick his wounds. It’s not like he’s got anything to lose in 2022 or 2024 because he was just re-elected, goddamn it all.

Just. Spill. The. Dirt. Lance the festering boil animating Graham. Back up the truck, press DUMP, and run like hell.

~ 3 ~

Until somebody gets smart and dumps the dirt on Graham, we need to regroup and get in gear for 2022. We can’t lose the Senate or we’ll end up with two years of stagnation and worse. If the last two years were bad, an economic depression making the 1930s look like a piece of cake could result from the GOP taking the Senate again.

Here’s the targets of our offense:

State Class III Cook PVI Age Now Open ‘2018 Moscow Convict Trump
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (R) Even 59 Open N Y
Wisconsin Ron Johnson (R) Even 65   Y N
Florida Marco Rubio (R) R+02 49   N N
Iowa Chuck Grassley (R) R+03 87   N N
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) R+03 65 Open N Y
Ohio Rob Portman (R) R+03 65 Open N N
           
Arizona Mark Kelly (D) R+05 56   N Y
Georgia Raphael Warnock (D) R+05 51   N Y
           
South Carolina Tim Scott (R) R+08 55   N N
Alaska Lisa Murkowski (R) R+09 63   N Y
Missouri Roy Blunt (R) R+09 71   N N
Indiana Todd Young (R) R+09 48   N N
Louisiana John Kennedy (R) R+11 69   Y N
Kansas Jerry Moran (R) R+13 66   Y N
Alabama Richard Shelby (R) R+13 86 Open Y N
South Dakota John Thune (R) R+14 60   Y N
Arkansas John Boozman (R) R+15 70   N N
Kentucky Rand Paul (R) R+15 58   N N
North Dakota John Hoeven (R) R+17 63   Y N
Idaho Mike Crapo (R) R+19 69   N N
Oklahoma James Lankford (R) R+20 52   N N
Utah Mike Lee (R) R+20 49   N N

These are all the GOP seats up for re-election or open in 2022, sorted by their Cook Partisan Voting Index rating. The strongest rated GOP are at the bottom, the weakest at the top.

There are three columns identifying which seats are open, which of these GOP senators went to Moscow on July 4 in 2018, and which ones voted to convict.

Sen. Shelby, one of those who went to Moscow, is 86 years old. He’s likely retiring due to age; it’s not clear why Putin would have ensured he was invited unless he knew something about Shelby not obvious to us. But Shelby is the likely ceiling on Cook PVI at R+13.

I’ve inserted two of the newest Democratic senators in the table, noting their state is rated R+5. This should tell us that every single seat at R+5 to Even is highly gettable with solid organizing on the ground. If you live in one of these states, you should be looking into helping as soon as possible. Those two Democrats, Kelly and Warnock, also need help; they won a special election, but must now fight for the Class III seat for the full six-year term.

Every one of the GOP senators who went to Moscow is vulnerable. Moscow wouldn’t have invited them if they weren’t either compromised, soft and could be compromised, or whatever psychographic and demographic data Putin’s data trolls had pulled together indicated these seats would trend left long before the pandemic.

Louisiana, for example, is increasingly non-white, its population become less white and more non-white at a rate of 1/4% per year. In 2018, the state was 58.4% non-Hispanic white. COVID may have stemmed some of that shift by way of Team Trump’s passive genocide by neglect, but that still means 41.6% of the population is non-white. Strong, effective organizing like that in Georgia this last election season could make Louisiana gettable, and it could explain why Moscow reached out to Sen. Kennedy.

Iowa is gettable for other reasons — the damage Trump did to farmers with his unnecessary trade war, Chuck Grassley’s decrepitude, a strong Democratic candidate pipeline, to name a few. What Iowa will need, though, is to get its act together with regard to its primary process. DNC’s new chair Jaime Harrison may be looking into this early rather than later to assure smooth sailing into 2022.

Speaking of Harrison, all those other less-gettable seats shouldn’t be ignored. Harrison appears ready to reinstitute a 50-state strategy leaving no seat uncontested. Kentucky, for example, shouldn’t be ceded because it’s rated R+15 and McConnell just won re-election there; if Charles Booker was interested in running against Rand Paul, he could stand a decent chance of winning, let alone make Paul work hard for his seat.

Pick a race or two. Get engaged early. Figure out how to help. Do not let the fascist GOP believe it has a chance at continued minority rule.

~ 2 ~

A new conservative party may soon emerge, consisting of more traditional conservatives who identified as Republican and are not Trump supporters.

This is a good move; I hope these folks do all the right things, getting their party formally established and organized in all 50 states. Could these folks peel away a few centrist Democrats? Possibly. But they’re more likely to fragment the power of the existing GOP.

We’d also be closer to a multi-party model than we have been, preventing a far more fascist entity like the Party of Trumpism from taking control of any branch of government.

Many Democrats have been upset about House Speaker Pelosi’s remarks saying this country needs a strong Republican Party:


But I wonder if what she really meant was a the country needs a strong party which believes in a republic — a democratic republic — giving a subtle nod to McMullin and the other breakaway Republicans who are interested in a pro-democracy conservative party.

Consider the timing of her remarks made on Saturday, while McMullin discussed the potential new party on Friday.

~ 1 ~

Of all the whining that pasty, soft-handed, slack-assed Graham did this weekend, this pissed me off the most.

Right, asshole. You want to impeach the first Black-Asian woman VP because she supported First Amendment-protected peaceful protests against racist police brutality while she was a senator? Or are you really just eager to impeach Harris because she’s Black-Asian, woman, and a VP like you will never be?

Go ahead and try it, whiner. You’re only giving every American who is non-white and/or woman impetus to organize even harder to get out the mothertrucking vote.

I really do hope there’s a new pro-democracy conservative party ready to run for Lindsey Graham’s seat in six years. I’d even donate money to them to see them make him whine even harder.

~ 0 ~

If you’re inside the polar vortex, I hope you’re able to stay warm. Reduce your electricity consumption as much as you can tolerate it to keep the load on the grid down. This web site is cheesy looking but it has some decent pointers about keeping warm. If you’re not in the vortex, do some emergency preparedness work because we don’t know with certainty how this or the next vortex will pan out.

And for dogs’ sake, stay off the road if at all possible if you live where snow and ice are rarities.

Oh, and double mask to protect against the newer highly-transmissible UK version of COVID.

Donnie The Wimp And His Impeachment Coffin

There was a pretty astounding report by CNN early this morning depicting the, and I am being kind here, disarray in Trump’s impeachment defense. The gist is this:

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.
Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who was recently added to the team, has also left, according to another source familiar with the changes. Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, from South Carolina, are no longer involved with the case, either.

No other attorneys have announced they are working on Trump’s impeachment defense.

A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

That sounds ominous!

But here is the part that even more stuck out to me:

“As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.”

and, most notably,

“The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.”

Lol, for the uninitiated, that means Trump never paid a dime as to a retainer, and never signed a fee agreement. That not only is inappropriate, in most jurisdictions it is, in and of itself, unethical. Even when the lawyer is agreeing to do work pro bono, there is a retainer agreement. Always, because real lawyers don’t blithely hang their asses out on the line without specified parameters. That is just how it is.

As I said on Twitter:

A rather large discussion ensued. Go look if you so desire, but I will stand by that for now. No, I do not really know, but it almost makes sense.

Trump is not cash rich. Expending collected campaign funds to perpetrate a fraudulent defense might be a dicey proposition. And no competent attorneys are lining up to pitch that. Trump may literally be down to Rudy and Jenna Ellis. Dershowitz and Jon Turley are squirrely as shit, but even they may not be that stupid.

So, where art thou go Donald?

Minority Report: Biden’s Waiver-Needed SecDef Nominee Lloyd Austin

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Opinion herein is mine alone. / ~Rayne]

I started writing this post about Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense during the first week of December; this portion of the post remains unedited after the events of January 6. I’ve left the first two-thirds unchanged to make a point.

~ ~ ~

Before I get to the meat of this post let me pose a few questions:

Can you name a Fortune 1000 CEO who is American by birth, Black, or a woman, or both?

Can you think of a Fortune 1000 CEO who is American by birth and a minority with a long, successful track record of leading a transnational corporation with more than 50,000 employees?

Can you think of an American citizen who is a minority who has led an international NGO with more than 50,000 employees?

There are fewer than 40 CEOs fitting the description leading in the corporate sector. In late 2019 the percentage of Black and/or woman CEOs was roughly 0.036%.

Corporate America is still absurdly homogeneous even after decades of women obtaining more than half the business degrees awarded in the U.S., and after affirmative action efforts by universities up to 2006.

We can be certain that the next layer of management below CEO and president looks just like this — ridiculously white and male. Major U.S. nonprofits look marginally better.

However this is the most obvious pool of candidates for Secretary of Defense under the National Security Act of 1947, from which Joe Biden should select the next SecDef.

~ ~ ~

Today’s military is deeply challenged:

The collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain in 2017 revealed serious weakening of discipline at a time when geopolitical tensions are mounting with China and Russia. Corrective action is ongoing.

The disappearance and murder of Army Spec. Vanessa Guillén in 2020 as well as the death of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales in August 2019 brought to light systemic problems at Fort Hood in Texas. Punitive measures were only just announced yesterday, resulting in firing and demotion of at least 14 leadership personnel at the base. If these failures were deep in the third largest U.S. military base on American soil, there are likely similar failures if at smaller scale at other bases.

The military has become a training ground not for our own troops but future domestic terrorists, as these examples demonstrate:

  • An active-duty Marine, Vasillios Pistolis, assaulted counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, SC in 2017. He had been a member of white supremacist group Atomwaffen and then a different unnamed extremist organization while he was in the military.
  • ProPublica found multiple active-duty military members and veterans who were members of white supremacist or nationalist extremist groups during their investigation into Pistolis post-Charlottesville.
  • This past June in Nevada, three veterans were arrested on terrorism charges. They intended to elevate protests against pandemic-related business closures into violence.
  • Three of four neo-Nazis planning to attack Black Lives Matter protesters were former Marines; the fourth was an active duty Marine serving in North Carolina when he was arrested in October along with his co-conspirators.

In response to ProPublica’s investigative reporting on Pistolis, House Rep. Keith Ellison demanded an investigation into white supremacy’s influence on the military; he also asked then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to share “steps currently being taken to screen recruits for extremist ties.” It’s not clear what happened following Ellison’s demand.

A sizable number of domestic terror threats generated by veterans and active-duty military have roots in far right extremism associated with white supremacy, from veteran Timothy McVeigh who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 to this October’s planned attack on BLM protesters. The military needs to stem the toxic influence of white supremacy with active anti-racism, including deplatforming Confederate icons. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in early December by a veto-proof majority in the House; the bill required the Defense Department to remove names of Confederate leaders and rename them in an effort to remove racists figureheads from the military.

Effectively addressing systemic lapses in military discipline and subversive influences threatening national security requires a strong grasp of U.S. military culture, let alone an appreciation for the diverse force of 1.3 million active duty personnel, of which only 57% were white in 2017:

… In 2017, women represented 16% of the overall active duty force, up from 9% in 1980 and just 1% in 1970.

The percentage of officers who are women has steadily grown since the 1970s. For example, in 1975, 5% of commissioned officers were women, and, by 2017, that share had risen to 18%.

… In 2004, 36% of active duty military were black, Hispanic, Asian or some other racial or ethnic group. Black service members made up about half of all racial and ethnic minorities at that time.

By 2017, the share of active duty military who were non-Hispanic white had fallen, while racial and ethnic minorities made up 43% – and within that group, blacks dropped from 51% in 2004 to 39% in 2017 just as the share of Hispanics rose from 25% to 36%.

Fortune 1000 corporations’ diversity among C-level executives is a joke by comparison.

~ ~ ~

To realize the principle of civilian control of the military, the National Security Act of 1947 requires the president to select and nominate a SecDef from the civilian population. Candidates may be veterans but must not have served in the military during the previous seven years before nomination.

In a liberal democracy, civilian control of the military should ensure the military serves the interests of the nation rather than the other way around. It’s also intended to avoid the rise of a state within a state, in which a military co-equal in authority to the civilian government may act in a fashion contrary to the nation it is supposed to serve.

1947 was a very different time; the nation was wholly unified, still unwinding from its war footing. It was beginning a reduction in force in a measured fashion. The U.S. had also learned considerably about the nature of fascism and autocracy during the previous decade and was extremely sensitive to threats to democracy.

Today, however, we can see fascism blooming rapidly, some encouraged by hostile entities outside the U.S., some within the U.S. arising from dissatisfaction with the status quo. Without a unifying sense of purpose, too many Americans have pulled away from democratic values seeking instead to be gratified by autocratic power.

It’s led to the nascent development of a state within a state — the rise of white supremacy as a fifth column inside our military.

And the civilians who have served as secretaries of defense over the last four years have failed to stem this toxic bloom which poses a clear and present national security threat.

With Trump, the reality TV CEO as commander-in-chief, the fifth column feels encouraged and validated.

Real CEOs and other C-level executives are simply not up to the job of extirpating the poison when it cannot see the same white supremacy at work within its ranks. In their world a fifth column represents a group ready to spin off a new startup or seek a buyer to acquire the parent corporation. That’s not democracy.

~ ~ ~

Biden nominated retired four-star general Lloyd Austin to be SecDef, though Austin only left the military in March 2016. As you can see from the 2009 photo used on the front page, Austin served during Biden’s tenure as VP under the Obama administration. Biden knows Austin.

But because Austin has only been out of the service not quite five years to date, there has been immediate rejection of Austin’s nomination on both sides of the aisle out of concern for the civilian-controlled military doctrine.

Austin requires a waiver from Congress to serve as SecDef because of the 1947 National Security Act. He should receive the waiver because he has not yet been deeply acculturated into Corporate America’s deeply racist system, and he’s still very familiar with the military as it was before Trump’s term aggravated the relationship between the executive office and active duty personnel. The inadequate response to Russia’s sponsorship of attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan serves as one example.

~ ~ ~

And now the January 6 Capitol Building insurrection makes it ever more obvious there’s a deep challenge inside the Defense Department. Far too many of the participants in the rebellion were active duty military, reservists, or veterans, suggesting they may have gone into the military with the idea they were training for this moment. Or perhaps they managed to get through their military service with their pre-existing bigotry intact if not enhanced. DOD needs to do a better job of weeding these persons out of the service because they are a clear and present danger to national security as January 6 proved.

But a leader from Corporate America will not be up to the task. They have proven themselves incapable of fixing the diversity problem in their own industries. When it comes to institutional misogyny, they can’t claim a pipeline problem because women have been more than half of all bachelor’s degrees awarded each year for more than two decades. The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to whites has fallen over the last two decades while it increased among Black, Latinx, and Asian Americans. And yet representation at upper levels of America’s corporate sector has barely budged.

Nor will a leader from Corporate America understand what the options are for screening, remediating, and removing insurrectionist elements inside the military. We do not have the luxury to teach someone from the corporate world where the problems are and how to address them after coming so close to the overthrow of our government.

How many corporate leaders would be able to stop a hostile takeover of their own corporation? It’s not the same as armed insurrectionists showing up in their offices threatening to kidnap, try, and execute management, but we can’t even be certain the corporate world produces leaders who can fend off traditional takeovers.

We don’t have time for on the job training; we can’t fuck around and find out with our national security at stake.

And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility of rapid deployment of military resources to aid rollout of vaccines and PPE in our response to the COVID pandemic — yet another facet of our nation’s security.

~ ~ ~

Lastly, we have to think of this period as a reset — our democracy has been threatened deeply, and the threat had nothing to do with having former military lead the Defense Department. It came from persons who included those who were radicalized in spite of their previous or current military service; it came from the top of the executive branch from someone with absolutely no respect for the military except as a means to his personal ends.

It fomented while civilians led the Defense Department.

15 former Defense Department leaders have asked Congress to offer a waiver for Austin, including former senator Chuck Hagel, former Obama chief of staff Leon Panetta, and William J. Perry, all of whom were SecDefs under previous administrations. Their letter to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee makes a sweeping opening acknowledging the unique challenges of this moment in history:

As former Republican and Democratic Secretaries of Defense, Deputy Secretaries of Defense, and Service Secretaries representing the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, we understand the qualities necessary to lead the U.S. Department of Defense. More pertinently, we understand what it takes to lead as a civilian at the department charged with the first and most essential task of the United States government, namely, to keep Americans safe. Rarely in our history has that been a more difficult challenge. Our nation faces a pandemic that has taken a terrible toll on America and on our allies; aggressive adversaries challenging us around the globe and in cyberspace; a rising China whose interests and values often do not align with ours; and a threat from domestic terrorism that has rarely been more clear or more dangerous.

In essence, they acknowledge a civilian leader at SecDef may not be up to the job this transitional period demands, though they acknowledge the importance of civilian-led military to our democracy.

The only previous waivers granted have been for George Marshall under Eisenhower in 1950, and James Mattis in 2017 under Trump. In hindsight Mattis’ waiver may have been a mistake since the problem of white supremacy and nationalism inside the military festered under his watch as SecDef; but one might also make the case that civilian leadership following Mattis by Mark Esper did no better. Under the more recent leadership of Acting SecDef Christopher Miller, conditions worsened — we still won’t know for some time exactly what Miller’s role was in the failures to protect the Capitol.

What all three most recent SecDefs shared in common may also have led to their failure to check the internal threats: all nominated by Trump, all of them white men who may simply not grasp the ways in which systemic racism and misogyny gnaw at our defense infrastructure.

The threat racism poses to our national security is immediate, exemplified by the two National Guard members removed from inauguration duties for their ties to right-wing militia organizations, nearly all of which are sympathetic or overlap with white supremacist or nationalist entities.

The Senate may have its doubts but it should offer the waiver for Austin and approve him as SecDef given the nature of threats we face. Congress should also follow through on Rep. Ellison’s demands for an investigation into white supremacy, nationalism, and other insurrectionist threats within the military, only give it teeth by legislating this as a regular institutional obligation with mandatory reports, measurable oversight, and punitive action spelled out. Make sure that the Secretary of Defense is directly responsible for this effort.

Legislate a review of this investigation and subsequent corrective action by the congressional committees responsible for military oversight on an annual basis, with a recommendation to retain or replace the SecDef based on measurable performance.

That’s where the ultimate oversight of the military should occur and where civilians continue to restrain military power — in the halls of Congress.

Advancing Our Country Forward, A Security Perspective

TOPSHOT – Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

[Hi, bmaz here, I am posting this from our beloved Roving Reporter Rosalind. She knows a bit about highly charged security issues, give it a read please.]

I spent my 20s and 30s working in large-scale concert production working for rock promoter Bill Graham Presents, dealing with crowds from 20,000 to 60,000 people packed into one defined area. In preparation for each show production staff would go through a procedure called “advancing the show”. As most tours were routed east to west, our production manager would call the band’s production manager after the tour had been underway and go through the production rider – the contract detailing the staging requirements – to confirm details and cover any surprises that had cropped up. Added equipment that made the truck pack go slower triggering overtime, feuding band members who needed their dressing rooms separated, a health issue requiring a local doctor to be on call backstage.

The most critical staff member for advancing the show was our Head of Security. She would call her counterpart at a venue where the band had already played to get their after-show report. At the end of each show the Security Head writes up the report detailing any arrests, what charges, how drunk, how many security staff were assigned, what time alcohol sales were cut off, what time the gates opened, what procedures were used to screen the crowd, notes on anything that should be done differently the next time. Each show required a different security set-up, based on the audience profile.

As most acts toured every summer, a level of institutional knowledge built up about what to expect but you never took anything for granted. When you have 20,000 people in the audience and 200 security staff keeping watch, the art of crowd psychology becomes critical to ensuring a safe event. Add in gravity, with the audience angled up, if anything triggered an unexpected mass movement down there would be no way of stopping it.

To keep things in control, you start at the gates, doing a thorough search to catch contraband items, especially anything that can be used as a weapon. Alcohol sales are monitored and cut off early if people are over-indulging. You start the show on time, end it on time. Security watches the crowd, not the show, ready to step in quickly should anything pop up. The key is to catch a situation before it has a chance to spread. At the end of a show the audience may see those in front suddenly move into the aisles and head down to the stage to dance and sing and exult in their proximity to their idols. While this may look like a moment of spontaneity, 95% of the time this is a pre-planned maneuver called “releasing the aisles”. It is done in coordination with band security, allowing the audience a release while keeping everyone safe. The other 5% of the time is when a performer, often an overnight sensation who has never before played to a huge venue, gazes up at her 20,000 adoring fans and invites them to “come on down!!” (looking at you, Madonna). Security has to spring into emergency action to keep the audience within their sections and prevent an out of control stampede.

Watching the horror unfold on January 6th in Washington, D.C. at our People’s House has prompted my memories of how to conduct proper security, and how not to. As soon as I saw the barricade set-up I got a pit in my stomach, correctly predicting someone would get crushed and suffocated or trampled to death. I immediately flashed back to my worst concert experience from a crowd safety standpoint: a Neil Young & Pearl Jam show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State.

The show was put on by a different promoter, and my friend and I were there to see the show and hang with our friends on the band production staff. When it was close to showtime we made our way to the area in front of the stage and looked at each other in alarm. Before us was a standing room area, then a steep cliff, then a large section of bleacher seats perched at the top overlooking. The lower standing room area was bisected by temporary fencing to carve out a VIP section at the very front. The people behind were literally forced to look through a fucking fence to see the stage. You now have a pissed off section of audience wanting to be up there in first class and not stuck back here in steerage. Worse, the temporary fencing was poorly installed and in one look we knew it would never hold. A man on the other side of the fence agreed, and we watched as he walked along the perimeter, methodically punching it every few feet, the security guard oblivious. It was obvious he was testing for the weakest link, and the moment the show started he would make his move. Meanwhile way up top a man began to climb down the cliff face, holding onto bits of shrubbery, until gravity took hold and he plummeted down landing at the back of steerage. The crowd roared. Another man immediately stepped up to take the plunge.

My friend and I ran backstage and explained the situation to our band production buds, begging them to get the promoter to take down the temporary fencing, but for whatever reasons they did not share our concern. We went back out front and watched and waited. The moment the band hit the stage the recon guy threw his full body weight into the fence, toppling it over onto people on the other side, trapping them underneath where they got trampled as people poured through the hole. At the same time body after body came plunging down the cliff, landing in a heap. My friend and I pushed to the front of the stage, waving our arms wildly, screaming at the band, trying to get their attention, the crew’s attention. Finally they stopped the show and tried to calm the crowd while personnel went to the aid of the people crushed under the fence. Injured people carried out, remaining fence taken down, steerage merged in with first class, the show restarted.

That the promoter made it out of that show with only broken bones and no deaths is nothing short of a miracle. In the aftermath, the Gorge was completely re-done, the cliff dug out to turn it into a more conventional amphitheatre configuration. I hear it’s beautiful. I haven’t been back.

As the country grapples with the ongoing repercussions of the Trump insurrectionists, the pressure for a knee jerk reaction to the security failure is gonna be huge. To encase the Capitol in a barricade bubble with armed security on every corner. This will be a tragic mistake. There will be much more to come out in the weeks ahead to fill in the who, what and why. But what’s already known shows that the Trumpists have been “testing the fences” for months and years now, zeroing in on the weak links in full view. Preparing for the start of show, and the moment their Glorious Leader invites them all to storm the stage.

We do not need a massive increase in the number of police personnel. We do need a massive increase in thinking outside the conventional box. To be pro-active, and stop trouble in its tracks before it can spread. Unfortunately, tragically, almost all levers of power in our Country have worked together to soften and excuse the growing crisis of Americans taking up arms to promote their white supremacist beliefs and QAnon conspiracies, standing by as the groups target our fellow citizens for violence. That any politician or law enforcement official can profess shock at the Capitol Siege is to confess their sin of complicity before the world. They watched the toxic clouds erupt all across our nation, streaming towards D.C., but told themselves soothing fairytales to sleep at night. They’ve now awoken to our collective nightmare where democracy destroying extremists are embedded at every level of our society, from law enforcement to the top tiers of government. And we will be forced to work furiously to counteract this poison for years to come.

Back at Bill Graham Presents, we did not prepare security plans for a particular concert based on the color of the audience’s skin, or their political beliefs, or social standing. We based it on verifiable facts, a proven track record and shared information to keep our decisions rooted in current events. There are hundreds of trained concert security personnel sitting at home, waiting for the touring industry to re-start. I say we bring a brigade of these folk to D.C. to consult with Congress and the District of Columbia leadership on ways to re-think crowd control and security. To make them better understand the intricacies of crowd psychology and mob psychology. To illustrate how the current protest preparations are flipped, with the “audience” that has a proven track record of being peaceful is deemed violent and gassed & smashed before they’ve made it through the front gate, while the “audience” storming State Capitols is given a light pat down and friendly smile.

The first area I’d welcome rock’n’roll security is on either side of the new metal detector inside Congress. I guarantee you not one single shitheel Republican will be able to arrogantly push their way past or sneak a loaded gun into the Chamber. Our crew don’t let any unauthorized motherfuckers backstage.

NFL Playoff Football Is Back, And We’re Gonna Get In Trouble Trash Talk

It has been a hell of a fun first few months week of 2021. So, with no further adieu, lets get to the ball. A nearly unprecedented SIX games in one weekend (there was that one weird strike season, which doesn’t really count). And, there really are no bad matchups on tap. Away we go!

First up is Indiana at Buffalo. The Colts seem a better team than their 11-5 record, and Phil Rivers can still chuck the ball. They have weapons on both offense and defense. But, dang, the Bills have looked like a serious Super Bowl contender all year. And, while Rodgers may be the MVP of the league, to my eye, Josh Allen was pretty close. The Bills are at home for a rabid and great fan base that has been dying for this since the mid-90’s. And the Wagon Circlers have weapons too, including Stephon Diggs, arguably the leagues best receiver this year, a fair, if not great, running game and a very good defense. Expect the Colts to be good, but the Bills to win. And that would be a very good thing for the City of Buffalo and their long suffering excellent fans.

Second up for Saturday is LA Rams at Seattle Squawks. This is a harder call. Rams first string QB Jared Goff is “questionable”, but expected to play (but for how long with a recently broken thumb on his throwing hand?). Jamal Adams, the Seahawks safety that is one of the best is in the same boat. It is not the same without the 12th Man fans in Seattle, but, despite a rough patch, the Squawks seem to be gelling. And then there is those Russell Wilson and DJ Metcalfe dudes. They are pretty good. Seattle wins.

The Saturday Night Game is Tampa at the Washington Football Team. WFT is on the clear rise under Riverboat Ron Rivera, they are better than you think, and on both sides of the ball. Young Chase Young and the superb DC D-Line are going to try to spook and hurry the old man Brady. The rest of the WFT defense is really good as well. But this is the first time Brady has been defended this way, and Tampa has a very talented defense as well. All pro receiver Mike Evans is nicked up, but will play, as will Ronald Jones. WFT is nicked up, but the most relevant one is QB Alex Smith. His entrance turned their moribund season around after Dwayne Haskins. If Smith can play, and play well, this could be an upset. Not gonna bet that, but that may be the X factor. Still will take the old man and the Bucs.

Okay, and here we go with the Sunday games.

First up Sunday is Baltimore at Tennessee. I have no real idea what to make of this one. Tennessee is good, and made it to the AFC finals last year. They have Derrick Henry, and that is one powerful weapon. But the Ravens have been rushing the heck out of the ball over the last five games. Sure, there is Lamar Jackson, but it is more than that. By a tiny margin, think the Ravens are better on D, but only a tiny amount. Am still inclined to go with the Titans at home.

Second comes Bears at Saints. This, on paper, is the least interesting game of the weekend. It is probably Drew Brees’ last year. The Aints are at home in the Dome. Nawlins will, apparently have both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on the field. Sorry, not sure how the Bears and Trubisky have a real shot here.

Lastly, Brownies at Steelers. For a short period, it really looked like Pittsburgh was in the doldrums and Cleveland would do the unthinkable and take the division championship. But the Steelers righted the ship and won out over Cleveland for the title. Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield (watch out for Mayfield on play action, he is really good) are maturing and growing quite nicely. And the Cleveland defense is pretty good. But this is still the Stillers, and the Browns will be without head coach and chief play caller Kevin Stefanski because of Covid. That seems rough. Have to take Big Ben and Pittsburgh at home, but this could be a great game.

A lot of people are saying they want a revolution. John, Paul, George and Ring have one for you. Rock it up.

Timing Matters: Impeach, Convict, Remove NOW [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Photos taken during the insurrectionist Capitol Building breach on Wednesday showed a lot of riot tourism — “Look at me, Mom!” kind of behavior which causes reparable damage while irritating observers. The jerk sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair with his feet on her desk is a perfect example.

But some photos showed participants who weren’t flashy, who weren’t taking selfies. They appeared intent on some objective and they were well equipped, wholly unlike the bare-chested, tattooed Qultist clown Jake Angeli.

Angeli was attention whoring.

This guy was not:

(Believe this is a cropped photo from Getty Images, shared here under Fair Use.)

Malcolm Nance noted this same person was carrying an “olive colored Blackhawk Sherpa pistol holster with a Glock 26 or 43 subcompact pistol w/hogue rubber grips, mace & Flex-cuffs” which is far from the average riot tourist’s gear. There has been speculation it’s not a Glock but a holstered taser, though the consensus appears to be that it’s a weapon.

The photo shows someone intent on doing more than a little light vandalism. They are equipped to kidnap, detain, and possibly hurt or kill someone.

They need to be identified, their situation fully investigated, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This isn’t something which should be blown off lightly; this person was in the Senate chamber where two of the next three in line of presidential succession — VP Mike Pence and Sen. Chuck Grassley — had been only moments before, in the same building with third-in-line, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

There were others as well who may not have been quite as well equipped but carrying some gear like plastic zip restraints, suggesting they, too, were intent on seizing members of Congress and staff.

Until an investigation is completed, we don’t know if we haven’t just looked upon an aborted kidnapping and/or assassination attempt.

We don’t know yet how the “mobile bomb factoryfound by law enforcement figured into this picture:

… The chief also confirmed that police recovered two pipe bombs at the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee offices. A cooler that contained molotov cocktails also was found on U.S. Capitol grounds, the chief said. Bowser said officials will review video and issue lookout alerts for people who breached the U.S. Capitol, adding that they “need to be held accountable for the carnage.”

Federal agents also are investigating a pickup truck found outside the RNC, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

The truck, parked across the street from the party offices and near the entrance to a Metro station, contained rifles and shotguns, a great deal of ammunition, and other unspecified material, these people said. Federal agents are still trying to determine if that vehicle and its contents are connected to the suspected pipe bombs found earlier, the people said. …

This could have been extremely ugly had riot members been able to occupy and control the Capitol Building through the night.

Trump should not be allowed to pardon these people if he and his associates and family had anything to do with this — like Rudy Giuliani’s incitement calling for “trial by combat” on stage before Trump supporters that day.

The only way to ensure there is no pardon granted by Trump before an investigation is complete is to remove Trump from office.

Immediately.

GOP members of Congress: You need to take this seriously and consider where you and members of your cohort stand. There may be those among them who are complicit, who may have no problem with eliminating their fellow members who aren’t as Trumpist as they are. Until a full investigation is completed there’s no way to know, and no way to protect themselves from a possible second attack-masked-by-riot.

And there’s a second event in the offing. It’s right there in all the chatter online about the January 6 mob.

Impeach, convict, remove Trump NOW, because it’s critical to protecting the continuity of our government under the Constitution about which you swore an oath to defend.

It’s also your skin in the game.

Consider how this scenario looks to others and whether the damage would have been limited to Democratic members of Congress alone.

Next time Congress and the VP might not be so lucky. Remove luck from the equation by removing the source of incitement NOW.

~  ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 5:10 PM ET —

The Washington Post released video showing the lead up to and the shooting of rioter Ashli Babbit. At least one member of Congress, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY-18), is visible at the beginning of the video before they are removed to a secure location and the rioters breach the door.

Impeachment still has traction if slow. Another set of articles of impeachment have been released, this time charging Incitement to Insurrection instead of Abuse of Power. Sorry, I don’t have time right now to type out a transcript, sharing a tweet with screen shots for now.

Pence entered the White House but apparently didn’t speak to Trump, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the first GOP senator to demand Trump resign, questioning her own future with the GOP.

One can only hope the news dump zone is kind to us.

Trash Talk Is Back, And It Is Max!

Calling the current GOP “fuckers” is one of the most true and innocuous things I have ever seen or heard. They are among the, if not the, most destructive humans currently on the face of the earth. Take Mitch McConnell. Please. If these fuckers are not fuckers, then who would real fuckers ever aspire to be?

So, what is up?

Apparently 737 Max aircraft are back up, and it may be being hidden from you. Or may not. But this is indeed something to keep your eye on as it was the explicit suggestion of the hollow branding man in chief, Trump:

“Even President Trump has weighed in on the MAX name: “If I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name,” he Tweeted in April.”

Don’t know about you, but I will not be boarding one of those planes.

Okay. Enough. There are real games out there. Not just the ones in Washington. I’d say and Washington, as in Seattle, but Boeing moved to the home of Rahm, Chicago.

Clemson has demonstrated clearly what fakers Notre Dame have been all along. Too bad they can’t do that for Ohio State too. Coastal Carolina deserves to be in the final four far more than either the Domers or the Buckeyes. It is almost comical how hard the NCAA tries to always put posers in their finals instead of the best teams. Nebraska barely held on to beat….Rutgers. Texas A&M beat the Vols, but pretty shocked that Oklahoma edged out Brock Purdy and Iowa State (both with Phoenix area QBs that will play on Sundays soon enough).

Josh Allen is, as we speak, and his Bills crushing the Broncos. Can Carolina take it to 12 and the Pack in Lambeau? Not going to take that proposition. Pats at Fins will be really interesting. So far, it looks like Flores is building right and Tua is real. But Bill Bel will game for this, and I’ll bet on that. Might have taken the WFT at home over the Squawks, but for Alex Smith being out again. The big game is really the Chefs at the Saints. Drew Brees will be back, but Nawlins is not the same without the raucous crowd. Mahomes is too much.

Let it rock. Don’t laugh at the music, she can really sing. Even Dolly thinks so.

Trump’s Destruction of Government Is Personal

I wanted to put up a longer post this morning addressing last night’s stream of Hatch Act violations and nepotistic displays ignored by criminal hypocrites passing for the GOP political party’s convention.

Unfortunately I have to be away from the desk for much of this morning, sorry. Feel free to use this open thread to share your observations about RNCC 2020: WTAF Round 2.

While you have at it without me I’m meeting with my elderly parents. My father has had some recent health events which have been under observation, aren’t getting better, and may need surgery.

The problem is the speed with which an elderly person with two residences — one in Florida, one in Michigan — can get the care they need during a pandemic if their health records are spread across north and south.

The physician who saw him yesterday wants records but they’re at a different location.

“Don’t mail them, whatever you have your care provider do,” they told my parents.

Now they have to wait for records in Florida, a state which is still wrestling with COVID-19 cases, to be sent to Michigan. Will they be transferred promptly and securely to this new physician in Michigan, where sorting machines have been removed and service slowed? Who knows?

My folks have been able to rely on mail to ship records back and forth for decades between residences, knowing they would arrive securely in a reasonable period of time.

But it’s not like it’s a cancer drug or insulin or some other medical resource needed expeditiously, one might think.

Imagine, though, it’s records of a heart ailment. Or a brain lesion. Or some other threat to health which if not treated appropriately might result in disability or death.

I won’t get any more specific but that’s what’s in these records which need to be shared between two entirely different, unconnected hospital systems.

U.S. Postal Service handling these records would have been just fine until this summer when Louis DeJoy took over as Postmaster General.

~ ~ ~

There’s an upside to this mess. It’s not much in that it won’t assure my dad’s health will improve.

But Donald Trump’s criminality and general fucked-up-edness has cost him two conservative voters.

My mother is FURIOUS about Trump. RABID. She makes me look like a goddamn fluffy kitten about Trump.

And this bullshit about COVID-19 being out of control was the capper for her. She’s a retired health care professional who knows all of this could have been prevented by one man had he done the job he was supposed to do.

Now, with this distrust of the mail system, at a time when she needs it most? Mom is LIVID.

I don’t dare discuss it with my dad because of his health.

I don’t dare get into detail with Mom about Trump because my god, her blood pressure.

If something worse should happen to my dad because of Trump’s screwing with government services we need, I wouldn’t put it past her to sue the ever-living fuck out of Trump appointees.

And I will help her, gladly. It’ll be the first time we’ve agreed on politics most of my adult lifetime.

~ ~ ~

This is supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. Not for banksters, not for cronies, not for foreign adversaries who’ve compromised elements of our leadership.

It’s time to take it back to save our own lives.

It’s time to do it for the memory of 178,410 COVID-19 victims our country has lost as of this morning because of Trump.

Again, this is an open thread.

Crowdsourced Timeline: Torching the USPS [Work in Progress, UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Well now. This has been a day to beat all days, hasn’t it?

Who would ever have guessed — during the middle of a scandal in which a Trump donor+appointee engaged in dismantling the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct a general election and a Census — that U.S. Postal Agents with U.S. Coast Guard assistance would arrest a Trump advisor on a boat with a Chinese dissident business person?

It’s mind boggling and delicious at the same time.

Also today: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, arguing changes made to the USPS system violate federal law, disrupting mail delivery and may cause voter disenfranchisement this November.

I wrote that DeJoy’s “equipment reductions” and staffing changes may have violated 18 U.S. Code § 1701.Obstruction of mails generally, as well as 18 U.S. Code § 371 Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S., and possibly 18 U.S. Code § 1346 Honest Services Fraud.

NAACP and Public Citizen argue DeJoy’s changes violate 39 U.S. Code § 3661 – Postal services by failing to obtain public comment first before finalizing and implementing changes, as well as 39 U.S. Code § 101(e) – Postal policy by failing to “give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail.”

There’s a tidbit in the complaint which I hope the court addresses when it addresses relief:

17. The PAEA in 2006 established the Postal Regulatory Commission as “an independent establishment of the executive branch.” Id. § 501. “The Postal Regulatory Commission is composed of 5 Commissioners, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commissioners shall be chosen solely on the basis of their technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated expertise in economics, accounting, law, or public administration, and may be removed by the President only for cause. Each individual appointed to the Commission shall have the qualifications and expertise necessary to carry out the enhanced responsibilities accorded Commissioners under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” Id. § 502(a). “No Commissioner shall be financially interested in any enterprise in the private sector of the economy engaged in the delivery of mail matter.” Id. § 502(b).

Emphasis mine. DeJoy isn’t qualified to be a commissioner and should be removed.

And more today: nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against DeJoy today, asking for an investigation into DeJoy’s actions which will undermine voting by mail for Trump’s political benefit. CREW’s concerned that DeJoy did more than violate the Hatch Act:

Criminal law (18 U.S.C. § 610) [Hatch Act] prohibits anyone from commanding any employee of the federal government to engage in political activity. Another provision (18 U.S.C § 595) bars anyone “employed in any administrative position by the United States” from using, in connection with any federally-funded activity, their “official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President.”

I’m waiting for an entity to sue the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for interfering with the delivery of Census forms which may yet be in circulation.

Senator Gary Peters has requested DeJoy appear before a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee tomorrow. Let’s hope both ballots and Census forms come up in the hearing.

What might be helpful to both persons following the hearing tomorrow and the House Oversight Committee hearing on Monday, August 24, is a timeline of relevant events related to Louis DeJoy’s installment as U.S. Postmaster General, the appointments of the current USPS Board of Governors, and the changes DeJoy as ordered.

Here’s a partially constructed timeline. If there’s an event or item you believe is key, please share it in comments and I’ll insert it in chronological order.

~ ~ ~

October 16, 2016 — DeJoy donation: $25,000 to to American Crossroads, pro-Trump super PAC run by Robert Duncan, chair of USPS Board of Governors which appointed DeJoy. DeJoy was the Republican National Committee’s national deputy chairman and was North Carolina State Chair for Trump Victory during the 2016 campaign.

Early January 2017 — According to The Charlotte Observer, “DeJoy was one of Trump’s biggest N.C. donors and fundraisers. Records show he gave $111,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that split money between the campaign and party groups. He gave the Republican National Committee another $273,000 to help elect Trump.”

October 7, 2017 — DeJoy hosted a $25,000 minimum donation fundraising dinner for Trump at his home in Greensboro, NC.

October 2019 — Then-Postmaster General Marge Brennan announced her impending retirement.

December 10, 2019 — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with David Abney, chairman and CEO of UPS, a competitor of USPS.

March 27, 2020 — Before COVID-19, a fundraising event was scheduled. The event hosted by DeJoy in Greenboro NC was intended to benefit Trump’s re-election campaign, the RNC and several state Republican parties, including North Carolina’s.

April 9, 2020 — Then-Postmaster General Brennan warned of a $13 billion revenue shortfall due “directly to COVID-19” and an additional $54.3 billion in losses over 10 years. USPS could “run out of cash this fiscal year” on September 30 if it did not receive federal funding.

May 23, 2020 — On or about this date, DeJoy was named national finance chairman for CLT Host 2020, the local organizing committee for the Republican National Convention. At the time the convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC.

January 15, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $150,000 to Trump’s campaign; $217,800 to the Republican National Committee.

January 16, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $10,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

February 7, 2020 — AG Bill Barr freezes campaign finance investigations.

February 12, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $35,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

February 19, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $210,600 to Trump’s campaign.

April 1, 2020 — USPS Board of Governors adopts new mission statement.

April 2020 (date TBD) — DeJoy’s and spouse Wos’ joint charity helped found the Burr Center at Wake Forest University

April 9, 2020 — DeJoy donations: $35,000 to help re-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in November; $27,200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $5,000 to the Majority Committee PAC, which says on Facebook its goal is “holding Nancy Pelosi accountable and helping Republicans take back the House of Representatives.”

May 6, 2020 — DeJoy sworn in as Postmaster General and CEO.

May 14, 2020 — NC Senator Burr steps down as SSCI chair due to FBI investigation of his trade.

May 15, 2020 — House passed the HEROES Act containing $25 billion in funding for the USPS.

May 15, 2020 — USPS presentation, “Equipment Reduction” proposed plan.

June 15, 2020 — First day on the job at USPS according to DeJoy.

June 15, 2020 — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the USPS Board of Governors asking them for their communication with the White House about DeJoy’s appointment.

June 17, 2020 — American Postal Workers Union was told of plans to remove 671 automated mail sorters — more than 10 percent of the total — from operation throughout the country.

July 10, 2020 — USPS circulated to employees a document entitled “PMGs expectations and plan” outlining changes DeJoy would order, including elimination of overtime, letter carriers would limit the time and scope of their delivery routes, and certain customer service windows would close during lunchtime. A document also circulated reviewing the changes, entitled, “Mandatory Stand-Up Talk: All Employees,” subtitled, “Pivoting For Our Future” (Pivot Instructions).

July 13, 2020 — DeJoy announced a prohibition to overtime and any other measures local postmasters use to alleviate shortages of staff hours.

Mid-July 2020 — USPS Board of Governors responded to Sen. Schumer’s request; Schumer said they told him “much of the information I requested was confidential.” The board had used an executive search firm which refused to waive a nondisclosure agreement.

July 27, 2020 — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced HEALS Act as counter to House bill HEROES Act; the senate bill contains no funding for the USPS.

July 29, 2020 — The Washington Post reported that in consideration for a $10 billion loan, DeJoy gave Mnuchin proprietary information about USPS’s private-sector contracts including Amazon, FedEx and UPS.

Late July, 2020 — Thomas J. Marshall, USPS’s general counsel and executive vice president, sent a letter to 46 states “warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted,” according to a report by the Washington Post on August 14.

August 4, 2020 — U.S. mail delays contributed to ballots arriving too late to be completed or mailed back in
time to be counted Missouri’s August 4, 2020 primary election.

August 4, 2020 — Trump lied about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 5, 2020 — Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi met DeJoy, along with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to negotiate both funding and the Pivot changes implemented by DeJoy.

August 6, 2020 — Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) launched investigation into USPS delivery delays.

August 7, 2020 — First meeting of  USPS Board of Governors DeJoy attended; results of third quarter, ended June 30, released. DeJoy also announced he had reassigned or displaced 23 senior USPS officials.

August 9, 2020 — Trump lied again about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 10, 2020 — DeJoy acknowledged in a USPS-wide memo that the Pivot Instructions “impacted our overall service levels.”

August 12, 2020 — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Delivering for America Act.

August 13, 2020 — Photos of removed postal equipment appeared online.

August 13, 2020 — DeJoy sent a memo acknowledging recent changes have “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.” No effort was made to halt or reverse the changes set in motion, however.

August 13, 2020 — Trump admitted in an interview that “he opposes a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the U.S. Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding to the states,” according to the Washington Post. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” said Trump.

August 16, 2020 — Speaker Pelosi called for an emergency session of House to address the USPS crisis.

August 16, 2020 — Senator Gary Peters, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, called for an emergency hearing.

~ ~ ~

One thing that bothers me which hasn’t gotten much attention is DeJoy’s continuing relationship with XPO Logistics. Yes, it’s a conflict of interest that he continues to own a chunk of XPO’s stock while he is Postmaster and CEO of USPS since XPO is a USPS contractor and a competitor since it also carries shipments for USPS competitors.

CREW’s complaint is in no small part focused on this conflict as well as DeJoy’s marital assets tied up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in UPS and J.B. Hunt trucking company in addition to the tens of millions in XPO Logistics from which DeJoy had not divested.

But logistics services, especially freight haulers, have long been prone to corruption.

Take for example an indictment last October:

According to court documents, Leonid Teyf, 57, was part of a scheme where several trucking companies paid more than $1 million in bribes to the Utah FedEx ground hub manager.

Teyf, you’ll recall, is a Russian national and a business crony of Yevgeny “Putin’s Chef” Prigozhin; he was arrested in late 2018 because of a murder-for-hire plot. He had two homes in the Raleigh, NC area which were raided by the feds.

At the time of Teyf’s original arrest there was no indication in local news reporting there was anything more to Teyf’s offenses besides the murder-for-hire accusation and immigration law violations.

How did Teyf end up involved in logistics in Utah, connected with USPS competitor FedEx?

DeJoy may have zero relationship with Teyf, but DeJoy had been the CEO of New Breed Logistics (NBL) for decades. NBL customers included USPS.

DeJoy’s company was acquired by XPO Logistics in 2014 for $600 million; DeJoy continued after the acquisition on NBL’s executive management and board of directors until May 2018. XPO Logistics’ competitors included DHL, FedEx, UPS, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services — and surely must have included USPS to some extent, considering the expedited package handling companies are USPS’s competitors.

Did DeJoy’s business ever cross with Teyf’s, considering they were both in logistics, were both living in North Carolina less than two hours apart (DeJoy in Greenboro and Teyf in Raleigh)?

Are there other possible corrupt entities which have their fingers in the mix with DeJoy’s wrecking crew management style? Can you think of ways in which corrupt entities could manipulate this situation for their benefit?

~ ~ ~

Let’s try to keep this thread focused on the USPS.

.
UPDATE-1 — 9:05 A.M. ET —

The Senate hearing was scheduled for 9:00 am but the start appears to be running late. You can watch the video conference at:

CSPAN https://www.c-span.org/video/?474940-1/senate-hearing-us-postal-service#

NPR (embedded video at this link, scroll down) https://www.npr.org/2020/08/21/904366258/postmaster-general-faces-senate-as-controversy-persists-over-usps-cuts

It’s also being carried on some broadcast and cable networks.

A couple new items related to NC’s Senator Richard Burr have been added to the timeline. Was his vote for approval persuaded by contributions or contributions-in-kind?

UPDATE-2 — 10:30 A.M. ET —

One of our community members, Vicks, shared a link to an article in Supply Chain News about XPO Logistics. As I noted in comments, this company in which DeJoy retains a substantive investment interest had suffered from a downturn in business in late 2018-early 2019. The loss of business volume was sizable enough to warrant evaluating restructuring of the firm into smaller entities for divestment.

This may suggest why Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is involved in the USPS scandal:

… XPO said it has hired high powered investment and legal firms to execute the processes. Those include Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as financial advisers and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as its legal adviser in the review process. …

Amazon’s own logistics company cut into XPO’s business at the same time Trump’s tariffs increased retail prices, reducing consumer demand. Rather than cutting costs and riding it out, or trying to find ways to spin off to Amazon, or trying to partner with Amazon’s competitors Target/Walmart/other, XPO looked at breaking up, thereby getting investment bankers involved.

Investment banks want to shake more cash out of XPO and its subs; they need to improve its prospects to do so. They want to find more business for XPO or its future spinoffs so they lean on Mnuchin to get dirt on competitor USPS which is a vendor to Amazon. UPS is involved because it wants to maintain its share of the market and it’s willing to help lean on USPS by providing its own take on expense allocation.

It’s corrupt as fuck. Mnuchin is favoring Wall Street investment banks and a Trump donor over a Constitutionally-mandated service. Fuck him.

Another question comes to mind about the drivers behind XPO’s fortunes: were companies which were adversely affected by the tariffs “picked off” by investment banks, possibly with Mnuchin’s help, to increase short selling opportunities and other forms of vulture capitalism?

Work In Progress: Saving the USPS

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

Before we look at current status, I want to make a point about what Louis DeJoy has done to the U.S. Postal Service. I hope that members of Congress or their staff members stopping in here pay close attention to this point.

DeJoy is maliciously destroying the U.S. Postal Service — quite likely violating 18 U.S. Code § 1701.

VICE had obtained a presentation outlining an “Equipment Reduction” dated May 15, 2020, one week after he was sworn in as CEO and Postmaster General.

This plan to reduce equipment — and the services the equipment provided — wasn’t whipped up in one week. It had to have been studied and created well before May 15.

Imagine for a moment you are an operations manger in one of a collection of high-output manufacturing plants across the U.S.. Your new boss comes in and says he wants to eliminate as much as 50% of your production capacity. How long would it take you and your co-workers in production engineering to identify the equipment which will least affect your production capability under peak demand?

Would it take you a week? Doubtful.

Would it take only a week for hundreds of plants across the country to do this same study and advise which equipment could be removed to eliminate any excess expense and yet provide reasonably reliable service?

Would it take only a week to prepare a finished presentation of a nationwide study with a proposed equipment reduction given the wide range of facilities across the country and operations managers?

No. Hell no.

DeJoy is executing a plan which had been in the works for some time intended to hollow out the U.S. Postal Service.

Let’s call this a conspiracy because you know damned well DeJoy didn’t do this all by himself given his postal service-free background. The public needs to know when this started and who was in on the planning.

~ ~ ~

Now, let’s optimistically assume the USPS continues to operate the way it has in the past to ensure customers continue to seek its services over commercial competitors like FedEx and UPS. You’ve gotten post card-like mailers and other kinds of promotional materials informing USPS customers about their services, rates, and changes to either.

Have any Americans anywhere in the U.S. received advance notification that their USPS service would be slowed down so they could adjust their mailing practices?

Have any Americans received notification that any familiar blue mailboxes near them would be removed or locked?

Have any Americans received advice on how they should adjust their mailing practices based on the changes to the USPS system closest to them?

No. Nada. Not one advisory or promotional mailer or brochure has shown up on line. Not even Trump supporters are sharing them.

DeJoy is NOT improving service if he’s allowing customers to fly blind about the changes to USPS. He is NOT making any effort to win over or retain USPS customers, which should be the first rule in trying to make profits — not pissing off the customer base.

This restructuring and reduction of equipment is intentional and malicious, executed with no outreach to customers whether individuals or businesses.

~ ~ ~

We’d heard reports that sorting machines had been tossed in dumpsters. We haven’t see photos turn up yet but we’ve now seen images of purported sorting machines sitting outside USPS facilities inside a fence, like so:

Photo: Sorting machines outside main post office, Cleveland OH – by Jim Anderson via Twitter

These machines will likely not work properly without considerable assessment now that they have been sitting out in the elements. Some parts may corrode and seize if exposed to high humidity, rain, and salt at any USPS facilities near oceanfront.

They were not stripped down for parts and put in an inventory for repair of similar equipment still on the floor.

They were not stored inside sub-optimized USPS facilities or warehouses to protect them from the elements.

They were not inventoried and submitted to an auction house for resale as scrap to recover value for taxpayers, in spite of the plan/conspiracy having enough time to identify how many/which machines would be pulled from USPS facilities before mid-May.

It’s not clear that some equipment or parts haven’t been stolen, either.

These machines which are taxpayers’ assets have been maliciously destroyed.

DeJoy is NOT reducing expenses and recovering costs to the USPS under some stupid notion of making a profit which no other government entity is required to do.

~ ~ ~

A lot of our community members reached out to their members of Congress and to the USPS Board of Governors to protest DeJoy’s destruction of the USPS.

The House and Senate Dems have been working on this as well as state officials.

Check this Twitter thread for examples of work done Friday-Saturday: https://twitter.com/golikehellmachi/status/1294396702632194048

See also Rep. Don Beyer’s thread outlining what’s being done through Sunday: https://twitter.com/RepDonBeyer/status/1294659358194896896

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi notified House members Sunday they should return to session to work on this crisis:

AUGUST 16, 2020 PRESS RELEASE

Dear Democratic Colleague,

The Postal Service is a pillar of our democracy, enshrined in the Constitution and essential for providing critical services: delivering prescriptions, Social Security benefits, paychecks, tax returns and absentee ballots to millions of Americans, including in our most remote communities.

Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, one of the top Trump mega-donors, has proven a complicit crony as he continues to push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail, and – according to the Postal Service itself – threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion. These delays also threaten the health and economic security of the American people by delaying delivery of life-saving medicines and payments. In 2019, 1.2 billion prescriptions were delivered through the Postal Services, including almost 100 percent from the VA to veterans.

Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the President.

That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney’s “Delivering for America Act,” which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020. House Democratic Leader Hoyer will soon be announcing the legislative schedule for the coming week.

To save the Postal Service, I am also calling upon Members to participate in a Day of Action on Tuesday by appearing at a Post Office in their districts for a press event. In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central. Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote.

As we protect the Postal Service and access to the ballot, we continue to lead the fight for The Heroes Act as the coronavirus crisis continues to spiral further out of control.

I am grateful to Members for their enthusiasm about returning to Washington, and I am grateful for their suggestions for what else we may consider acting upon when we return.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, leadership and friendship.

NANCY

Originally scheduled for September 17, House Oversight Committee  called DeJoy and USPS board of governors chair Robert M. Duncan to testify at an emergency session hearing on Monday, August 24. DeJoy’s agreed to appear.

One might wonder if the protesters which have gathered outside his golf side mansion have influenced his decision.

Last Wednesday, House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Delivering for America Act which reverses DeJoy’s “changes so this fundamental American service can continue unimpeded.

According to Maloney’s office:

The Delivering for America Act would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to the operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. This legislation would maintain current service standards as well as the integrity of our elections and bedrock democratic principles.

It’s likely too late to reverse the all the changes made to the USPS sorting system though some changes like pulling the blue mailboxes or locking them could be returned to their previous condition.

The real challenge ahead: forcing the Senate Majority Leader to allow this bill to go through the Senate, and finding enough GOP votes to pass the bill with a veto-proof majority.

The GOP needs to prove it isn’t trying to kill more Americans by squashing this bill. Too many voters have already been at risk of serious harm because their medications haven’t arrived by mail on time.

This is yet one more clue to DeJoy’s intentions driving the changes to the USPS: he made no obvious effort to mitigate threats to Americans’ health and security before he made any changes.

~ ~ ~

Finally, I have to tell you I have had it up to fucking here ~slashing gesture below chin~ with the left-wing whining  DO SOMETHING.

Stop the god damned whining or go sit in the time-out chair until you’ve decided you can do something constructive yourself.

There’s a lot to be done which isn’t the responsibility of members of Congress who are already doing what they are supposed to do (which, by the way, includes meeting constituents as well as asking for their votes in the now-shortened break time they have before Election Day).

The whining is a serious problem in itself because it discourages voters at a time when they are already feeling down because of Team Trump’s unrelenting attacks on democracy combined with the pressure of the ongoing pandemic.

Encourage others to do what they can to push back. At a minimum, take the time to educate yourself and help friends and family do likewise about options to vote.

Look into early voting. Look into dates to obtain absentee/mail-in ballots and how to turn them into clerk’s drop boxes if mail is not an option. Or make a plan to vote in person. Begin by checking your voter registration status.

Check with your state’s secretary of state and attorney general to see if they are taking action to halt the changes or develop alternatives to support voters. Some states’ attorneys general are preparing to file suit against DeJoy and the USPS.

Need more guidance? Celeste P. has a deep Twitter thread of actions people can take to save the USPS, including pressure on the GOP senate to pass the HEROES Act economic aid bill which includes funding for the USPS.

This is a government of, by, and for the people. We are the people we have been waiting for to fix this mess.

Let’s get it in gear and go.

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