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Track This Post: U.S. Postmaster DeJoy Must Be Fired and Hajjar Hired

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

No. Hell no.

The U.S. Postal Service has been covertly monitoring Americans’ social media. The surveillance program was first reported last month; this is some seriously ugly stuff.

Now we learn the USPS has been using Clearview AI for facial recognition, Zignal Labs for keyword searches, and Nfusion software to create untraceable covert accounts.

Why has the USPS been using anything other than intelligence from the Department of Justice for monitoring events which may pose risks to normal mail delivery?

Why were these resources used to monitor First Amendment-protected protest rallies like those in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year?

While this was running under Louis DeJoy’s tenure at the U.S. Postal Service, it began under the previous postmaster Margaret Brennan’s term. Did Brennan know the scope of this surveillance program when it began? Did the scope change over time with or without her awareness?

Did the USPS Board of Governors know about this program and its spying on American’s social media?

Surprisingly, there are GOP members of Congress who are unhappy with USPS’ spying on Americans — Matt Gaetz and Louis Gohmert have both expressed concern. One might wonder why.

Of course these GOP members tipped their hand and submitted a bill to defund the USPS which gives away GOP’s desire to kill the USPS as a government service which private sector businesses could carve up, ditching unprofitable parts along with the USPS’ obligation to protect privacy of mail contents.

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All of which brings us to another ongoing problem: the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors still doesn’t include all of Joe Biden’s nominees. At least one of three nominees remains unapproved, obstructing Biden administration’s ability to deal with the lousy mail service under DeJoy’s leadership and the covert domestic spying program. There’s ample reason for both parties to light a fire under the confirmation process based on the history of the USPS under DeJoy’s highly-questionable leadership:

16-JUN-2020 — Louis DeJoy assumed office as U.S. Postmaster; he joins a Board of Governors which are all Trump appointees, white and all male.

10-JUL-2020 — A USPS internal memo restricted overtime and ordered postal personnel to return to their post office on time, thereby reducing priority on timely delivery of mail.

07-AUG-2020 — DeJoy overhauled USPS’ upper management; 23 senior USPS officials were reassigned or displaced.

24-AUG-2020 — Before the House Oversight Committee, DeJoy said, “I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime.”

SEP-NOV-2020 — Several lawsuits were filed due to USPS’ handling of mail related to the election including ballots and dissemination of false information by the USPS about voting by mail in Colorado.

02-NOV-2021 — On the eve of the election, first-class mail on-time delivery rate had dropped to 80% after DeJoy’s changes from over 90% before DeJoy became postmaster.

21-FEB-2021 — By way of a FOIA lawsuit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington obtained documents which showed DeJoy lied to Congress about cutting overtime.

23-FEB-2021 — USPS awards Oshkosh Defense a contract worth approximately $6 billion for a next-generation fleet of 165,000 delivery vehicles which are “equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.”

24-FEB-2021 — Hearing before House Oversight Committee in which DeJoy testifies about mail slowdown.

24-FEB-2021 — Biden announced three nominees for open seats on the USPS Board of Governors.

11-MAR-2021 — House members submitted a bill to halt the contract with Oshkosh Defense as the contract may violate Biden’s executive order dd. January 27 requiring all federal fleet vehicles purchased thereafter to be “clean and zero-emission.”

22-APR-2021Confirmation hearing before Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for all three Biden nominees.

12-MAY-2021Ronald Stroman (Democrat) confirmed by the Senate; his term will expire December 8, 2028.

13-MAY-2021Amber Faye McReynolds (Independent) confirmed by Senate for term ending December 8, 2026.

19-MAY-2021Anton Hajjar (Democrat) remains unconfirmed.

Finish this job, Senators. Constituents on both sides of the aisle need better, more reliable postal service; they also don’t need a postmaster who is so egregiously disrespectful of his role as a public employee, nor another covert surveillance program outside the scope of USPS’ mission relying on iffy platforms like Clearview AI.

The public also needs more diverse representation within their federal government; Hajjar’s confirmation would realize two men of color on the Board of Governors, both appointed by Biden along with McReynolds.

But it doesn’t stop with Hajjar’s confirmation. Governors Ron A. Bloom and Donald L. Moak, both identified as Democrats, both appointed under the Trump administration, may need to be replaced. They failed to object forcefully enough to the use of a covert surveillance system on Americans’ protected First Amendment speech. Can the country depend on them to do the right thing to work with the other Democratic and Independent appointees to remove DeJoy after they’ve failed the public?

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A few last thoughts: Since the USPS was surveilling the American public, did it also fail to advise Capitol Police and the Department of Justice there was a growing threat leading up to the January 6 insurrection?

Did someone use the USPS system to see what the other intelligence agencies saw ahead of the insurrection?

Did the USPS collect documentation about what it saw brewing?

Sure hope somebody asks behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.