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Election Day Countdown: 6 Days

Six days. Less than a week to Election Day.

If you haven’t yet voted and were planning on voting early/absentee, please make a plan which doesn’t rely on U.S. Mail especially if you live in a large city. There are too many reports of First Class mail taking longer than five days to arrive.

Judge Emmett Sullivan — same judge handling the Flynn case — seems a bit tetchy about the U.S. Postal Service handling of ballots:


Worth your time to read the highly-detailed order linked in the Politico article, particularly this bit about the U.S. Mail:

FURTHER ORDERED that by no later than 9:00 AM on October 29, 2020, Defendants shall distribute, in the same form and to the same individuals who were previously advised about the need to “ensure that completed ballots reach the appropriate election official by the state’s designated deadline,” a list of state-specific statutory ballot receipt deadlines, so that the USPS managers and employees can implement the Election Mail guidance that Defendants have recently issued. The parties shall confer and agree and substance of the list. …

You can bet there’s squealing and scrambling going on right now even as I type this at 4:00 a.m.

Will these suits against the USPS be the first cases the new Barrett-added SCOTUS hears if current Postmaster Louis DeJoy refuses to comply and contests Sullivan’s directive?

~ ~ ~

There’s another problem with the SCOTUS already, though this is the pre-Barrett/post-RBG version. Seems Justice Kavanaugh has demonstrated what a hack he is making absurd errors in an opinion on voter suppression:

One of his errors goes right to the problem with the U.S. Mail:

Mistake No. 5: No one thinks they can return their ballot by Election Day if they request it by Oct. 29.

Kavanaugh wrote: “No one thinks that voters who request absentee ballots as late as October 29 can both receive the ballots and mail them back in time to be received by election day.” He cites no support for this assumption, probably because it’s wrong. Many states explicitly allow voters to request absentee ballots even closer to Election Day and instruct them to mail their ballots back. A large number of voters do wait until the last minute to ask for a ballot, which is why a strict deadline disenfranchises so many people. In August, the Postal Service encouraged 46 states to change their deadlines, warning them that ballots requested and returned in accordance with state law might not make it back in time. The Postal Service would not have sent out this warning if “no one” thought the states’ existing deadlines were unrealistic. …

I know there’s been a lot of talk about rejiggering the formulation of the SCOTUS including expansion of the number of justices to ensure improved representation reflecting a center-left country.

But I think we need to have a chat about reformulation including corrections of the existing justices. This opinion by Kavanaugh is so shoddy Congress should consider impeaching and removing him under a Biden presidency. Because it’s ridiculous that Chief Justice John Roberts let this out of his court, Roberts needs to feel a little sting for this as well.

~ ~ ~

Trump’s super spreader campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska was a disaster Tuesday night. A number of elderly attendees had to be taken by ambulance for treatment of hypothermia due to temperatures in the 20s and the distance from the rally site to the parking lot.

It’s bad enough Trump is making campaign stops in places which Trump won by double digits in 2016 — 25 points, to be more specific. But to do so at physical risk to voters who may not yet have cast a vote?

Utterly stupid.

The capper: the campaign is desperate not only for votes but money.

That’s one way to clean up that $421 million dollars of personal debt.

~ ~ ~

If you’ve already voted, thank you. Please help get other voters to the polls and make this election a massive blue tsunami — a wave so big they can’t steal this election.

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.

Photo: Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash

Three Things: They Look Like Phones [UPDATE-1]

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

Those three things sure look like phones — like something you should be using to make phone calls ASAP.

Call about what, you might ask?

Well…

~ 3 ~

You’re already aware there’s a mounting crisis related to the U.S. Post Office. Yesterday Trump just came right out and said the quiet part out loud, that he’s stealing the election by messing with the post office.

No, really, he’s that damaged cognitively that he’ll admit his impeachable offense.

Speaking with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network on Thursday morning, Trump appeared to confirm that he opposes Democrats’ proposed funding for mail-in balloting and the U.S. Postal Service in order to make it more difficult to expand voting by mail.

“Now they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

It’s not the first time he’s said something to this effect, that Republicans lose when it’s easier to vote. He said it in March so you know he’s been thinking about this and working on it since at least first quarter this year.

But this time Trump’s pointedly refusing to assent to funding the U.S. Post Office. His slack-jawed flabby-assed flunky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, offered an economic aid bill 10 weeks late and then dismissed the Senate for a month rather than allow senators to work with the House Dems to negotiate adding USPS funding to their pork-laden HEALS Act.

That’s right, the HEALS Act has no funding for the USPS though the House Dems’ HEROES Act passed in mid-May contains $25 billion. The Center for Responsible Federal Budget offers a comparison of the two bills — there’s nothing in the Senate bill for USPS though it contains money to improve airports (when air travel has fallen dramatically) and transferred money to private schools (though public schools are already underfunded and in need of money to address COVID-19 mitigation).

Meanwhile, Americans across the country have already been damaged by Trump’s overt attacks on the USPS through his corrupt appointee, Louis DeJoy. You’ll recall that DeJoy was a Trump donor; he’s basically bought his appointment through campaign contributions, which isn’t unusual. But he owned and still owned stock in competitors with the USPS. Every decision he makes which cuts USPS’s services and responsiveness is self-dealing.

Worse, since his appointment, DeJoy bought stock in Amazon which has its own shipping service — yet another conflict of interest.

DeJoy could and should be removed. The chances the House Dems would impeach him AND the slack-jawed Senate Majority Leader would allow the Senate to convict and remove him before the election are slim to none. You know Trump damned well won’t have a change of heart or mind about DeJoy (having neither heart nor mind to change).

But there’s another possibility. The USPS Board of Governors could remove DeJoy and name another among their ranks to serve as the Postmaster General.

Here’s the current board:

Name

Title

Political Party

Term Begin

Term Expiration

Of Interest

Louis DeJoy Postmaster General (PMG) and CEO Republican June 15, 2020 No Term Limit 75th United States Postmaster General
Robert M. Duncan Chairman of the Board of Governors Republican August 2018 December 8, 2025 Re-elected as chairman in November 2019
Ron A. Bloom Governor Democratic August 20, 2019 December 8, 2020 Chair of Strategy and Innovation Committee
Roman Martinez IV Governor Republican August 1, 2019 December 8, 2024 Chair of Audit and Finance Committee
John McLeod Barger Governor Republican August 1, 2019 December 8, 2021 Chair of Compensation and Governance Committee
Donald L. Moak Governor Democrat June 18, 2020 December 8, 2022 Replacing Alan C. Kessler
William D. Zollars Governor Republican June 18, 2020 December 8, 2022 Replacing James H. Bilbray

What we need are contact methods including phone numbers for these individuals because you know mailing anything to these board members won’t be timely. Heck, sending a letter via FedEx or UPS could work, too — find out what Brown can do for you, amirite?

These board members need to know they are on notice and will be held accountable for failing their fiduciary AND legal responsibilities.

Like 18 U.S. Code § 1701.Obstruction of mails generally

Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Ahem.

And should any American not receive essential medication on time as many have reported, causing harm or even death? These board members should be named in any suit against the U.S. Postal Service.

But what about the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) limiting lawsuits by individuals against federal services?

See Dolan v. United States Postal Service — the deliberate removal of post office equipment to slow down and impede delivery of mail is not negligence. It’s malicious.

And the president explained what was intended. Hurting Americans’ health and commerce is just collateral damage to him.

There’s probably a case to be made for 18 U.S. Code § 371 Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S., and possibly 18 U.S. Code § 1346 Honest Services Fraud.

VICE reported on documents they obtained showing the reductions to equipment were set in motion months ago — what a coincidence that the “Equipment Reduction” presentation document VICE shared is dated May 15, 2020, the same day the House Democrats passed the HEROES Act containing $25 billion for USPS funding.

DeJoy was appointed by Trump on May 7, one week before that presentation’s date.

The document VICE obtained refers to “proposed plan” throughout, meaning it was not the final plan. There’s no indication this was intended to reduce costs to operate, only reduce equipment.

And there’s zero indication in the “Equipment Reduction” document or in other reporting to date that DeJoy would recover any costs of the equipment by selling any removed for scrap. Instead there are reports the equipment removed has been destroyed and tossed in dumpsters.

Imagine the scrap value lost to the U.S. Treasury. What’s the chances somebody has made off with this?

Wondering if there’s also U.S. code somewhere which addresses deliberate impediment or interference with the operations of the U.S. Census because that’s still underway and there are likely replies also being delayed.

If you find phone numbers for the members of the Board of Governors, please share in comments. Thanks!

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It’s not just individuals who rely on timely delivery of mail for all manner of essentials like medication; it’s not just businesses which rely on timely, secure delivery of mail for transmission of payments and legal documents.

It’s states and local government relying on mail for the conduct of governance. States’ attorneys general should sue the U.S. Post Office and the entire Board of Governors if the states and local governments are harmed by this deliberate sabotage of the U.S. Post Office.

Here’s the National Association of Attorneys General’s website — click on the photo of your state’s attorney general to find their contact information including telephone number. Or check with your state’s government website for your AG.

Ask your state’s AG to look into damages to the state caused by the deliberate delay of mail by the U.S. Post Office.

You may see your state’s Secretary of State writing sternly worded letters of concern, as California’s Alex Padilla did today. But stern letters from a state to the U.S. Postmaster aren’t likely to produce anything but spin from DeJoy.

Attorneys general filing lawsuits? That might get something done.

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Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted that it’s unlikely the USPS will be funded because of Trump and Senate Republicans.

He’s right — unless the GOP senators get panicky about their grip on a majority, they will continue to obstruct as they have been. Perhaps they’ve been persuaded by Team Trump that DeJoy’s trashing of the USPS will work in their favor.

We know, though, the Republicans have been twitchy about their ties to Trump for some time now. The White House’s handling of COVID-19 has been disastrous for their constituents. Lying or spinning can’t hide the body count. That body count may worsen, taking their voters should their essential medications not arrive by mail on a timely basis.

So make these GOP senators — especially this list up for re-election — panicky. If one of these is your senator, call them and get into their grill about the crappy HEALS Act which provides zero funding for the USPS but doles out pork like money for the bloated F-35 fighter jet.

Capito, Shelley Moore (R-WV) McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)
Cassidy, Bill (R-LA) McSally, Martha (R-AZ)
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME) Perdue, David (R-GA)
Cornyn, John (R-TX) Risch, James E. (R-ID)
Cotton, Tom (R-AR) Rounds, Mike (R-SD)
Daines, Steve (R-MT) Sasse, Ben (R-NE)
Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY) Sullivan, Dan (R-AK)
Ernst, Joni (R-IA) Tillis, Thom (R-NC)
Gardner, Cory (R-CO)
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC) Retiring:
Hyde-Smith, Cindy (R-MS) Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) open seat
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK) Roberts, Pat (R-KS) open seat

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 — or use Resist.bot to text them.

If you have one or more Democratic senators, call and thank them for their work and ask them to ensure they support USPS funding if the GOP senators come to the table to negotiate HEALS Act.

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I want to point out I am not a lawyer. If you think there’s other angles of approach which work better apart from what I’ve written here, or if there’s a flaw in what I’ve laid out, share in comments so we all can take a better tack.

Above all, make sure your friends, family, neighbors know to plan ahead to vote as early as possible. Check voter registration status, look into absentee or mail-in ballots and ensure they are mailed as early as possible under state law or dropped off at the closest secured ballot drop box.

Let’s try to keep this thread focused on the U.S. Post Office, thanks.

.

UPDATE-1 — 5:25 P.M. ET —

Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has reached out to the AZ Attorney General:

Keep up the pressure.