October Surprise: Didn’t Have COVID-19 on the Bingo Card [UPDATE-2]

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

So…back on August 22, I asked folks to offer their best bets on what Team Trump would pull for an October Surprise given the long history of such election gaming in American presidential politics.

I suspected Team Trump would try to force both the Durham investigation to announce a skewed finding, and development of a COVID-19 vaccine through testing and approval by some time in October.

But I didn’t have Trump testing positive for COVID-19 on the bingo card of possible surprises.

Only one community member, Terrapin, saw that as a possibility (and not with a good outcome).

But after all the squirrelly reporting around Hope Hicks’ positive test earlier on Thursday, it wasn’t clear when Trump and his wretched wife were tested and with what kind of test.

Is this being gamed, too?

Trump managed to shoot himself in the foot politically again by blaming military personnel as the source of Hicks’ infection:

… Trump suggested Hicks could have contracted it from members of the military or law enforcement.

“It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them,” the president said. “You get close, and things happen. I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she is a very warm person with them. She knows there’s a risk, but she is young.” …

Exposure to COVID-19 didn’t cause that kind of stupid.

The situation is annoying no matter how much anyone may like/dislike Trump. He’s still the White House’s occupant, still the president and commander-in-chief even if the means by which he came to those roles has been in question since day one. The American people deserve better transparency about the health of the person occupying the White House and whether he is or isn’t incapacitated at any time.

The other challenge before us: After mocking his opponent for wearing a mask, Trump was on stage this week with Joe Biden, and neither wore masks during their debate. Trump spent a lot of time pushing aerosols as he spoke and may have been contagious.

A whole host of other problematic scenarios emerge:

The October Surprise may be one we never thought of or planned for in August.

What other fresh surprises should we expect this month before the election?

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:00 P.M. 02-OCT-2020 —

No, fuck no. This Brit needs to do some basic research, like reading the U.S. Constitution before flapping off like this.

Trump tried to float this same lead balloon back in April. Not going to happen; that’s why he attacked the U.S. Post Office to damage its capacity to handle ballots on a timely basis.

Rick Hasen has already written about the possibility Trump leaves office due to illness or death before the election, and how that might be handled.

LOL GMTA

Just wish I knew how they’re going to wrap up this season — will it be a series finale?

Would be nice to know how to hedge this. My retirement fund is getting seasickness from all the ups and downs.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 7:00 P.M. 02-OCT-2020 —

Trump has been taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His doctor says he’s been given Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody infusion — a drug cocktail which is still in testing phase. Earlier reports said Trump was running a low grade temperature.

Look, it’s time for media people to do a better job of reporting by which I mean GET THE TIMELINE OF EVENTS.

Did the temperature come on before/after going to Walter Reed?

Was the infusion administered before/after going to Walter Reed?

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Going through Twitter I can piece together part of the answers:

Mid-day — Trump did not attend a conference call for which he was scheduled; VP Pence attended in his place a planned discussion about COVID-19 support for at-risk seniors.

4:11 p.m. — Press Sec McEnany released via Twitter a copy of a memo from Trump’s physician, Sean P. Conley. Conley wrote that Trump received the Regeneron infusion as a precautionary measure.

4:18 p.m. — NBC News reported President Trump has a low-grade fever.

5:19 p.m. — CNN reported Trump would be transported to Walter Reed.

6:17 p.m. — CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Trump didn’t take questions as he walked to helicopter Marine One.

Based on what little I pulled together, it looks like Trump received an experimental drug administered by IV at the White House, that he continued to experience symptoms typical of COVID-19 including a temperature, and that he was then moved to Walter Reed.

Something is still missing in this tick-tock. Why did the President of the United States receive an experimental drug? When was it administered today, or was it administered last night before/immediately after the positive test was reported? Why was he moved to Walter Reed after the infusion rather than before it was administered?

Were they waiting for the goddamned market to close before they revealed he received this drug therapy? Or that they decided to move him to Walter Reed?

Pay attention to the timing.

And note the black holes: there’s no mention of hydroxychloroquine, no mention of Gilead’s remdesivir (though this may not be administered this early in the illness and only to more seriously ill patients).

2020 Presidential Debates: Station Hope [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

I’m putting up a post so community members can hash out the first of three presidential debates.

This one is located in Cleveland, Ohio, which was code named “Station Hope” by the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s.

The entire day has been rife with bullshit rumormongering among the right-wing monkey horde, which claims Democratic candidate and former VP Joe Biden will use an earpiece for prompts by others as well as performance enhancing drugs.

Sure sounds like a lot of projection to me.

Trump’s campaign has already jumped the gun and sent out a fundraising email before 5:37 p.m. EDT claiming he’s won the debate which doesn’t start until 8:00 p.m. CDT (I’m writing this at 8:00 p.m. EDT).

Joe and his team are taking this all in stride.

Do open the graphic. The right-wing horde has gotten their panties in a twist about $12-13/pint ice cream, failing to take the time to check its provenance. It’s made by a woman-founded ice creamery headquartered in Columbus with a scoop shop in Chagrin, Ohio just east of Cleveland, with pints available in many Cleveland-area grocery stores.

Way to go, MAGAts. Good luck winning over more women and small businesses.

Anyhow…a list of online streams is available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLU12uITxBEPFAvcROsHJwIopn-Q-FMTSp

Fox is hosting which is a joke given their role in spreading disinformation today about Biden.

CNN’s Daniel Dale will be doing a real time fact check which Fox is apparently incapable of doing. Best wishes to Dale who will surely be exhausted at the end of the debate; he’s the best Canadian import we have next to Molson.

Best of luck to you all. I will check in later; I simply don’t have the patience for Trump’s lies while the U.S. has now lost 205,591 Americans as of this evening to COVID-19 because Trump’s such a useless fraud.

~ ~ ~

EDIT: Mark these dates on your calendar for the next two presidential debates —

Thursday, October 15, 2020 9:00–10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, Florida
Moderator: Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Thursday, October 22, 2020 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Curb Event Center at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:45 P.M. ET —

Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, what a spectacular waste of time and a massive national embarrassment. Trump has all the manners and grace of a toddler who’s missed his lunch and his nap, and yet he has all the maliciousness of an old man with permanent grudges.

Van Jones, who has been on board with Trump, may have had the scales removed from his eyes tonight:

I don’t know what took Jones so damned long to realize that Trump is a white supremacist who intends to keep his grip on power illegitimately and with the support of white supremacist terror groups.

The media isn’t taking this debate well, either. Many of them realize that Trump couldn’t be reined in even if Fox’s Chris Wallace had tried harder because Trump was intent on venting his meanness. Any one of them in Wallace’s shoes would have had difficulty salvaging any of the debate because Trump has no respect for the media if they aren’t kissing his ass.

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center has an important message for the media, though:

Don’t give white supremacists a platform. Doing so lends them legitimacy. It’s bad enough Trump had one tonight which he used to ask them to stand by — in essence, calling to armed preparedness a seditious entity.

It’s past time to discuss both the illegitimacy of Trump’s power and the threat of seditious insurrection if he loses to Biden in an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Two more debates seem useless at this point, don’t they?

Dead Flowers On Kentucky Derby Day

Hi there Trash Talk fans and fannettes, we are back. Personally, I think opening up B1G and SEC football is a declaration of pandemic war on society, especially in some seriously at high risk areas without the ICU resources to cover in a mass problem. Led by Trump, however, this seems to be the clarion call dopes cannot refuse.

Is it the move of voices like Trump, the flailing NCAA athletic departments, or the craven interests of Insta Sports betting interests like Fan Duel and Draft Kings who are desperate to make money now because their precarious and sick corporate lives depend on it? Don’t sleep on the latter, and pay attention as to the ever increasing Insta Sports Betting commercials soak up ad time on ESPN (and their chief shill, Mike Greenberg) and other sports channels. It is a full on push, and they cannot wait for the pandemic to end if they are to take over the gaming world. ESPN is all in on this garbage. Why? Because it is big advertising bucks, and money is their business. It is that simple.

Okay, on to the actual sports. First, today is, improbably, Kentucky Derby Day. As my family originally came from Kentucky before the cactus patch, the Derby is something special. Always has been and always will be. The Derby in September, without the people and hats in the stands, seems wrong. But the horses deserve to run in their time, so okay. F1, and even Indy, have proved that closed circuit courses with fast action are still compelling on TV. Frankly, so too has the NBA and NHL “bubbles”. So, it will still be interesting to see the Kentucky Derby.

One of our early partners and contributors here at Emptywheel, and even before the formal formation of the Emptywheel blog, was Mary. Mary lives on in our recollections and history, and her family, but will be forever known as the one that put horses in our bailiwick. Something Emptywheel Roving Reporter took to ground. So, when horses are up, the memory of Mary is as well. Today is an improbable, and weird day, for the Derby. But let it be run, for the horses. From CBS:

Though the NFL and Kentucky Derby are never mentioned in the same sentence, 2020 has been anything but usual. Even though the 2020 Kentucky Derby will go off Saturday, Sept. 5 on the brink of Week 1 in the NFL, all eyes will be on Churchill Downs, where 16 of the top three-year-old horses will load up for the 146th Run for the Roses. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes earlier this summer and is aiming to become just the 14th horse in history to win the Triple Crown and the first since Justify two years ago.

There is also the NBA, and the “embubblement” is working far better than thought possible. The games are great down the stretch.

NFL football, surprisingly, seems not far off. There is no more fascinating and competitive division than the NFC South. Couple of years ago that would have been shocking, now it is a fact. Bruce Arians, Brady and the Bucs are the most interesting story in the NFL this year. Can they really live up to that interest? I dunno about that. What a division to have to deal with, it is imposing. We shall see.

F1 is back again this weekend. Monza. There are a lot of famous historical races. Monza is very much at the top. This is not a normal year, and the front of the field has been more boring than ever in history by my eye. There is actually pretty decent racing behind the front markers and midfield. I will watch, but do not have much hopes for Monza being the nail biting theater it once was.

As summer starts to wane, today’s music will be by the Loving Spoonful. It was almost Donavan with images of the great Sue Lyon, but I think I already did that years ago. So, let’s have a good weekend folks. Rock on and chat about anything. Also, of course, Dead Flowers for Kentucky Derby Day, because there will be few Derby Days here without that.

185,963

Here’s the topic Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing everything they can to avoid:

It’s also the single biggest reason not to vote for Donald Trump.

I think Drew Gibson put it best in a tweet today:

The White House can put all the spin on their “Zapuder tape” they want. It won’t change the fact we can see they are killing us through police brutality and COVID-19.

It won’t change the fact Joe Biden was welcomed in Kenosha by community leaders, spoke with shooting victim Jacob Blake and met with Blake’s family — none of which insensitive racist Trump could bring himself to do.

It won’t change the fact Trump failed to boost U.S. manufacturing as he promised in 2016. Instead he set off an unnecessary trade war implementing tariffs which not only inflated consumer prices in the U.S., damaged demand for U.S. commodities, but encouraged the burning of Amazon rain forest for farmland in Brazil, which sold more soybeans to China.

It won’t change the fact that the Trump administration still has no effective response to COVID-19, allowing states to continue to fight on their own as more a thousand Americans die each day from the disease. At this rate 300,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 this year.

It won’t change the fact that no one in their right mind sees the Trump administration’s politicized hyper-speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine as anything more than a ploy for re-election purposes.

It won’t change the fact that +30% of college football players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 developed myocarditis which may inhibit their ability to play in college and professionally — and none of this had to happen had Trump done his job.

It won’t change the fact the Trump administration and the GOP senate are allowing children to go hungry, ignoring mounting food insecurity and growing numbers of  unemployed with 1.6 million new claims filed this week.

It won’t change the fact that evictions and foreclosures are creating another crisis surpassing that of 2007-2009.

But keep spinning, Kelly McEnany. Maybe you’ll survive the failed Trump years and earn yourself a gig spinning numbers for a TV game show as your next gig.

This is an open thread.
.
UPDATE-1 — 6:15 P.M. ET —

Wonder what the White House will do next to hide this?

This is bad. I wonder if they’ll care, though, since they’ve fucked up the U.S. Postal Service so badly overseas military votes may not get counted in a timely fashion.

We should be pounding on Esper to help active duty military to vote.

.
UPDATE-2 — 8:00 A.M. ET FRIDAY —

Oh, not good. Media have been arguing about sourcing behind Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic. AP verified some, and Washington Post followed up as well. But WaPo’s team published a piece which is just as blistering as Goldberg’s.

See Trump said U.S. soldiers injured and killed in war were ‘losers,’ magazine reports

We still aren’t told who the sources are but my money is on Jim Mattis being one of them. Goldberg wrote a piece on Mattis in June in which Mattis took a stick to Trump.

See James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

Twitter was flooded with condemnation of Trump after yesterday’s piece in The Atlantic; Team Trump sent out a horde of proxies like Sarah Huckabee Sanders to swat it down.

Not certain who’ll believe her.

Three Things: Breathing, Thinking, Mating and COVID-19

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

Breathing, thinking, mating.

At least one of these three things are important to you, no matter your age. COVID-19 can affect one or more of them, and we don’t yet know to what extent.

More importantly, it’s not getting through to the general public that COVID-19 can affect one or more of infected persons’ lungs, brain, and reproductive organs even if they are young, not to mention their heart and vascular system.

And by young I mean students in school, whether K-12 or tertiary (college/university) education.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

But first, let’s talk about bad assumptions and biases.

We’ve heard since the earliest media reports from China that COVID-19 affected the lungs. It was characterized as a “pneumonia-like illness,” and unfortunately this characterization limited the public’s earliest perceptions of the disease.

“Pneumonia-like illness” allowed misinformation and disinformation to flourish — it’s just another flu, the propagandists propelled, ignoring the much greater mortality rate and the insufficient data about SARS-CoV-2’s transmissibility.

The health care system geared itself toward treating a “pneumonia-like illness,” demanding ventilators when ventilators might be fine for pneumonia, but might pose new risks with a disease like COVID-19. Health care workers performing endotracheal intubation, extubation, noninvasive ventilation were and are exposed to aerosolized virus material, requiring much greater rigor in personal protection due to these aerosol-generating procedures and the volume of virus they are exposed to each shift.

Even with increasing awareness that personal protection must be stepped up for COVID-19 as compared to influenza, hospitals still don’t have a handle on infection control. The Wall Street Journal reported:

“…Researchers at University of Nebraska Medical Center found the coronavirus in hallway air outside negative-pressure Covid-19 rooms. The Omaha hospital revamped its ventilation system to protect people in hallways by creating negative air flow there, too. …”

Existing negative air pressure rooms — Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIR) — might have been enough for influenza. It’s clearly not when 5,000 cases of COVID-19 may be related to inadequate infection controls in hospital settings in spite of like that used in dedicated COVID-19 treatment rooms. Hospitals would have changed their infection control protocols long ago had they seen nosocomial transmission of flu within hospitals approaching the rate of transmission with COVID-19, but perhaps the health care system has relied too heavily on annual flu vaccinations. Perhaps nosocomial transmission of flu and other pneumonia-like illness would have been much higher without vaccinations, revealing how flawed existing infection controls have been.

Our health care systems too slowly recognized COVID-19 isn’t like influenza or a pneumonia-like illness. It’s far more insidious. It’s now cost at least 600 health care workers their lives.

In addition to flawed assumptions, bias has also screwed up screening for COVID-19. Many of our community members know of people who were denied tests for COVID-19 because they didn’t meet certain criteria; one of the early criteria was whether the subject had traveled to China or been in contact with anyone who had been to China. Trump and his xenophobic followers have continued to exacerbate bias with racist framing of COVID-19.

Except that many cases of COVID-19 can be traced to Europe. It can be seen in the emergence and dominance of the G-lineage of the virus versus the D-lineage which was first common along the west coast. Everyone who had any one of the symptoms identified by China should have been tested for COVID-19, no matter where they had been or with whom they had been in contact.

I can’t begin to think about the number of lives which could have been saved had this country launched effective testing more widely, in concert with quarantine. But we didn’t in no small part because of limited, faulty thinking about COVID-19.

What other biases have similarly shaped our ability to address COVID-19 effectively?

The racist, ageist, ableist bias which informs inaction because it only negatively affects those people?

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

We still don’t know what the repercussions are for recovered COVID-19 patients, including those who were asymptomatic.

Lung damage, which initially shaped health care professionals’ treatment as if COVID-19 was a pneumonia-like illness, appears to be long term.

Drillinger, M., Chesak, J. (fact checker) (2020, June 22). Lifelong Lung Damage: A Serious COVID-19 Complication. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/lifelong-lung-damage-the-serious-covid-19-complication-that-can-hit-people-in-their-20s

Damage was also seen in lungs of infected individuals who appeared to be asymptomatic or only mildly ill with COVID-19.

Prevalence of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Daniel P. Oran and Eric J. Topol
Annals of Internal Medicine, Reviews 3 Jun 2020
https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-3012

But it’s not just patients’ lungs affected; more than 36% of COVID-19 patients had neurological impairment.

Mao L, Jin H, Wang M, et al. Neurologic Manifestations of Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China. JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(6):683–690. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2764549

Delirium, brain inflammation, stroke, and nerve damage occurred as well as a rare condition, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) — an inflammatory disorder which is sometimes fatal.

R W Paterson, R L Brown, L Benjamin et al, The emerging spectrum of COVID-19 neurology: clinical, radiological and laboratory findings, Brain, awaa240, Published: 08 July 2020
https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa240
https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408

The virus causes heart damage, even in patients who had no pre-existing cardiac disease:

In this global survey, cardiac abnormalities were observed in half of all COVID-19 patients undergoing echocardiography. Abnormalities were often unheralded or severe, and imaging changed management in one-third of patients.

Marc R Dweck, Anda Bularga, Rebecca T Hahn, Rong Bing, Kuan Ken Lee, Andrew R Chapman, Audrey White, Giovanni Di Salvo, Leyla Elif Sade, Keith Pearce, David E Newby, Bogdan A Popescu, Erwan Donal, Bernard Cosyns, Thor Edvardsen, Nicholas L Mills, Kristina Haugaa, Global evaluation of echocardiography in patients with COVID-19, European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Imaging, , jeaa178, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehjci/jeaa178

Abnormalities found included myocardial infarction (heart attack), myocarditis (inflammation of heart tissue), takotsubo cardiomyopathy (temporary deformation of heart chamber), as well as elevated natriuretic peptides and cardiac troponin.

Scientific American published an article this weekend which offered even more anecdotal evidence of cardiac damage from COVID-19 even in asymptomatic persons.

Autopsies of COVID-19 victims showed damage to testicles:

Yang M, et al. Pathological Findings in the Testes of COVID-19 Patients: Clinical Implications. Eur
Urol Focus (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2020.05.009
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405456920301449

Based on findings, not only should kidney function and hormone levels be monitored but younger men should receive fertility counseling for family planning:

Wang, S., Zhou, X., Zhang, T. et al. The need for urogenital tract monitoring in COVID-19. Nat Rev Urol 17, 314–315 (2020). Published 20 April 2020 Issue Date June 2020
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-020-0319-7
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41585-020-0319-7

There have been many anecdotes of patients with sequelae lasting months after their initial illness. A large enough number exist for them to form groups in social media to compare notes about their experience. As the underlying SARS-CoV-2 virus is novel, we don’t have years of experience to look back upon for trends. We can’t yet predict whether there will be lifelong disability though many patients have reported development of diabetes, kidney dysfunction, heart disease, neurological impairment which have lasted months after they were technically deemed recovered. Studies on COVID-19’s long term effects have only recently begun and may last months to years.

We also don’t know how long any immunity post-infection will last, let alone whether most individuals can expect not to be re-infected within a year of their first infection. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is a recent obvious case raising questions about immunity; he tested positive for COVID-19 a third time two weeks after testing positive the first time.

So much for Bolsonaro’s faith in hydroxychloroquine as a therapy for COVID-19.

A British study showed immunity dropping within three months after recovery:

… In the first longitudinal study of its kind, scientists analysed the immune response of more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then swiftly declined.

Blood tests revealed that while 60% of people marshalled a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the virus, only 17% retained the same potency three months later. Antibody levels fell as much as 23-fold over the period. In some cases, they became undetectable. …

Longitudinal evaluation and decline of antibody responses in SARS-CoV-2 infection
J Seow, C Graham, B Merrick, et al
medRxiv 2020.07.09.20148429; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.09.20148429
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.09.20148429v1

We’ve now seen cases where persons have recovered from COVID-19 only to be reinfected and sickened by a different strain. In a Hong Kong patient who had recovered in March but was reinfected during later travel to Spain, we see the problem of making assumptions based on bias about the “China flu.” COVID-19 isn’t just a single coronavirus strain originating in China.

The possibility of reinfection with different strains combined with decreasing immunity over time means reliance on “herd immunity” is foolhardy, and vaccines may not work as long as intended. Mitigating the spread of the disease remains crucial until a safe, effective, and durable vaccine has been developed, tested, and prepared for global distribution.

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

If hearts and lungs, neurological and reproductive systems are permanently affected by COVID-19 even in younger patients who may remain asymptomatic, why risk exposing children and college-age students to COVID-19 by returning them back to in-classroom schooling?

You’d think white nationalists would clue in that their precious ideal of a white power future is threatened by this virus, literally neutered by testicular damage, but no — they insist students must return to school.

Worse, they insist on sports, demanding college football right now, even though athletes have been infected, sickened, suffered heart damage, and died from COVID-19 in spite of their youth and health.

Why are we even allowing in-classroom schooling at all when there has been zero effort to fund and implement modifications to HVAC systems though we have known for months now that aerosolized exhalation in poorly-ventilated enclosed spaces is the greatest risk factor to mass infection?

The only answer seems to be in the lack of any answer at all — the choice to do nothing is a choice.

And the choice the Trump administration, GOP legislators and state governors have made is to maim and kill more Americans.

~ ~ 0 ~ ~

There’s an incredibly stupid tweet making the rounds, published by Students for Trump. They share a photo of Trump standing before burned-out buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The tweet reads, “President @realDonaldTrump tours what Biden will do to America.

Most tweeters who comment remark on the idiocy of this projection: Trump stands before the wreckage he helped spur during the waning election year cycle as he runs for re-election.

I can’t help wonder if the stupidity of the tweet is a reflection of the damage exposure to COVID-19 may have already wrought on Students for Trump.

This is the future of the Republican Party: too brain damaged to recognize their reflection in the mirror.

Too impaired to recognize the self-inflicted injury, too messed up to save themselves and their future.

.

This is an open thread, though COVID-19 content is preferred.

RNCC 2020: ‘Profoundly’ WTAF

I could expend a lot of time and effort on the disgusting spectacle which was the final night of the Republican National Committee’s Convention.

I could write more about media outlets which enabled this unlawful fascist excess by failing to note how in-our-face the Trump campaign and Trump administration were in their taking of public resources for a partisan campaign.

I could write about the maskless attendees who played ‘Rona Roulette sitting cheek and jowl on the White House lawn.

But no. I’m going to say this:

That’s how many Americans died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours. It’s likely an understatement since excess deaths have been running nearly 25% higher than those reported as COVID-19.

I’m going to say this:

recognizing all the Americans who have died because that tangerine hellbeast chose not to protect the American public because he thought it was better for his campaign to act as if the pandemic disappeared, because he listened to his incompetent Victorian doll-faced son-in-law that neglecting blue states would help his re-election.

It’ll just disappear, he’s said repeatedly about the pandemic. In his addled venal mind it already has because COVID-19 does nothing to fluff his ego. It’s just an annoyance to be brushed aside because it doesn’t help his TV ratings.

It’ll just disappear, like the tens of millions who’ve lost their jobs or are worried about losing them soon, the many who will lose their homes to eviction and foreclosure, the families struggling with food security, the children who don’t have access to internet to study from home or are in classrooms with teachers grappling with infection control with little help.

None of these Americans are visible to him because they are not his audience. They’re disrupters of his TV and approval ratings, inconveniences impeding his narcissistic supply — the fix he needs which he’ll never get from his father.

“Profoundly” he accepted his political party’s nomination tonight, unable to read the word “proudly” in his speech and really not caring about that detail. Somehow it fits.

Trump is profoundly wrong in so many ways, as is the party which owns his gross failings.

We have 67 days to work out how to safely vote this miserable waste of carbon out of office. If things continue as they have, losing 1100-1200 Americans a day to COVID-19, the death toll will increase by another 80,000 by Election Day.

If the rate remains unchanged, the total number of Americans lost to COVID-19 will nearly double by Inauguration Day.

I can’t begin to stomach the cost of human life if we do not remove him from office. The potential number of deaths is as profoundly wrong as he is.

Consider tonight’s profound farce conducted on the people’s lawn using taxpayer resources our marching orders.

It’s time to save our fellow Americans’ lives.

It’s time to take our democracy back.

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.

Place Your Bets: What’s Trump’s October Surprise? [UPDATE-2]

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

It’s become something of a American tradition — candidates pull something out of their asses in October which resets the calculus by which swing voters calibrate their darts before they aim at the board of presidential candidates.

Here are 180 years of surprises, though a few attempts aren’t squarely in October but rather late in the election season:

1840: Van Buren (D) vs. Harrison (W) — Van Buren’s fed prosecutors charged Whigs with voter fraud.

1880: Garfield (R) vs. Hancock (D) — The “Morey letter” purportedly written by Garfield implied Garfield favored Chines immigration.

1884: Cleveland (D) vs. Blaine (R) — Blaine said nothing in response to a popular bigoted preacher’s claim that Democrats promoted “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” costing him Catholic and southern sympathizers’ votes.

1912: Taft (R) vs. Wilson (D) — Taft’s VP died a week before election day.

1920: Harding (R) vs. Cox (D) — Rumor of Harding’s “negro blood”, Roosevelt’s gays in Navy investigation.

1940: Roosevelt (D) vs. Willkie (R) — Roosevelt promoted African-American Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Sr. to brigadier general.

1964: Johnson (D) vs. Goldwater (R) — Jenkins’ gay sex scandal, Khruschev’s ouster, PRC’s first nuke test, September “Daisy” TV ad.

1968: Nixon (R) vs. Johnson (withdrew)/Humphrey (D) — Nixon undermined Johnson’s peace talks with Vietnam.

1972: Nixon (R) vs. McGovern (D) — Henry Kissinger’s “peace is at hand” remarks referring to the Vietnam war.

1980: Carter (D) vs. Reagan (R) — American hostages remained in Iran.

1992: Bush (R) vs. Clinton (D) — Caspar Weinberger’s indictment (really in June).

2000: Gore (D) vs. Bush (R) — George Bush’s drunk driving charge.

2004: Kerry (D) vs. Bush (R) — missing explosives cache, OBL tape, Saudi oil price cut, terror alerts.

2006: midterm elections — Mark Foley scandal, Saddam Hussein trial verdict.

2008: McCain (R) vs. Obama (D) — Revelation of Obama’s “illegal immigrant half-aunt” made the news.

2012: Romney (R) vs. Obama (D) — Romney’s “47%” tape was released.

2016: Clinton (D) vs. Trump (R) — “pussy grabber” tape + Wikileaks’ Podesta emails, Comey letter.

2018: midterm elections —  A “migrant caravan” materialized in Central America.

My gosh, October surprises going back as far as the Whig Party. Trump will be in good company if he aims beyond his sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct Americans’ votes by throwing a late wrench in the works.

But what will that wrench be?

~ ~ ~

There’s already been some speculation as to what kinds of ratfucking Trump will pull at the last moment. Two topics which some suggest may be used to generate October Surprises are the Durham investigation and a vaccine for COVID-19.

I don’t have a feel for the former. Marcy or bmaz might have a better sense of the likelihood. Can’t rule out there being more than one surprise, either. I put my money on the latter, though.

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, we’re already seeing jockeying around this issue, including the news about Putin’s daughter having been a test subject for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Unfortunately, Dr. Anthony Fauci has naively set up expectations for a vaccine by the end of the year.

… “From everything we’ve seen now — in the animal data, as well as the human data — we feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I don’t think it’s dreaming.” …

The problem is that he’s offered inadequate qualifications when asked for comment, though to be fair, this excerpt is from that awful hearing with Rep. Jim “Killer Clown” Jordan being an asshole to him.

It’s extremely doubtful there will be a safe and effective vaccine ready for nationwide or global deployment by the end of the year. There may be one or more candidates which are ready for varying stages of testing, trials, or regulatory approvals.

While there are numerous vaccines in development around the world, American pharma company Pfizer has a candidate nearing a benchmark:

… Pfizer has said repeatedly since June that it was targeting October for its application and the companies started a large late-stage study last month of the candidate vaccine, one of the few globally in later stages of development.

On Thursday they reported data from previous early-stage trials of the vaccine, BNT162b2, that showed it induced similar immune responses and had milder side effects than prior data on another candidate. …

October. Huh. What a coincidence. How odd its timing also syncs up with anticipated roll-out of Russia’s vaccine.

Do pay careful attention to that “milder side effects” bit. There’s a lot in these three words without enough explanation.

Trump’s veep-minion is singing a hopeful refrain, invoking some religious happy talk with the word “miracle”:

But this morning Trump had another temper tantrum via Twitter about the vaccine approval process:

No, you great tangerine dipshit. Speed should NOT be the focus unless you’re worried about re-election and need a Hail Mary pass delivered in October.

For the American public, the vaccine must be safe and effective. There are no shortcuts to these two deliverables, especially since this vaccine will be rolled out to the entire population, from children to elderly. We don’t want a vaccine which causes more problems than the disease it’s supposed to prevent.

Which is why the Food and Drug Administration needs to do its job thoroughly and with as much openness as the process and partners permit. But not with such speed that safety and efficacy are threatened.

What I can’t say is whether Trump’s temper tantrum is meant to pressure the FDA, or if it’s meant to condition the public to believe he is responsible for making the shortened vaccine development timeline happen, so when the FDA does get around to completing regulatory review, Trump can crow he alone can fix COVID-19.

Which is bullshit after 175,695 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of 11:00 p.m. ET today.

~ ~ ~

So what’s your take? What will be the October surprise Trump will attempt to save his ass this November?

This is an open thread.

 . . .

UPDATE-1 — 11:50 P.M. ET —

Son of a gun, just when I was going to log off and go to bed this crap pops up in my feed.

Great. We’re going to hear narcissistic dementia babble with some faux authoritative affirmation from a goddamned ONCOLOGIST and not an epidemiologist/virologist/public health MD about whatever dog-and-pony White House Coronavirus Taskforce stuff this is.

Where will the far-more-trusted Dr. Fauci be during this crap?

We all know the real point of this last minute lob into Saturday night’s dark is a means to change the subject of tomorrow morning’s Sunday talk shows.

The White House doesn’t want the punditocracy to talk about

1) The Democrats’ convention this past week and Joe Biden’s acceptance in particular;
2) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s appearance before the Senate and Steve Mnuchin’s role in the USPS crisis;
3) The Delivering for America Act, H.R. 8015 which passed the House today and now heads to the Senate;
4) The lack of action in the Senate on reconciling the House’s HEROES Act with the Senate’s awful HEALS Act;
5) The beginning of a massive eviction/foreclosure/homelessness crisis;
6) The failures of schools both K-12 and universities to safely relaunch;
7) Mary Trump’s audiotape of Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry in which much tea is spilled about Trump;

and lastly, the ongoing mass death event costing 1200 American lives each day because Donald Trump is such an abjectly corrupt fuckup.

Add that to your predictions — of which item is Trump most afraid of that Team Trump had to manufacture a breakthrough to derail Sunday morning talk shows?

 . . .

UPDATE-2 — 7:15 P.M. ET —

Trump’s 6:00 p.m. presser has come and gone — a quickly slapped together sandwich of a racist anti-China dig, nonsensical back-patting and a ridiculous announcement, with a side of exactly three questions allotted to Fox News (2) and OAN (1) before fleeing the scene like a criminal.

What’s the likelihood the questions were pre-approved?

I am so fucking glad I didn’t turn on my television to watch this laughable circle jerk.

Politico published a story earlier this afternoon about the subject of this announcement: the use of plasma from COVID-19 survivors as pharmaceutical therapy for patients in severe condition, hospitalized with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is NOT a preventative therapy.

Experts like former CDC director Dr. Tom Friedan aren’t rah-rah about this therapy or announcement:

The one thing no one was able to ask Trump was whether he’s received this therapy. It’s possible he received a prophylactic dose; I can think of one occasion when it may have happened, three days after Herman Cain died.

Maybe this is the surprise which hasn’t yet been sprung on us yet?

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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