Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Something to Know - 4 August

Understanding the woes that are converging around #45, Individual 1, Grifter-in-Chief, or any other label put on him, helps to explain why he is acting like he is doing.   He is his own worst enemy, and as such this nation is suffering along in the wake of his total inept performance:

Both the administration's disastrous response to the coronavirus and looming legal troubles are putting pressure on the president.

Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the advisor to the White House on the coronavirus pandemic, warned we are entering a "new phase" of the disease as it is "extraordinarily widespread." Today, Trump accused Birx of crumbling under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's criticism of her usually upbeat presentations about the crisis. "So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!"

When reporters asked what he meant by the tweet, he answered, "Well, I think that we're doing very well and we have done as well as any nation."

The U.S. has more than 4.5 million infections and more than 155,000 deaths.

In an astonishing interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, aired tonight, the president could not seem to grapple with the reality that the numbers of dead are climbing in America. He continued to insist that what mattered are cases, and that we have high infection numbers only because we are testing. Swan explained that our death rate as a proportion of our population is "really bad," but Trump incorrectly insisted it is "lower than the world," and told Swan, "You're not reporting it correctly."

Today another penny dropped, too. We learned that the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is apparently investigating Trump for more than the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have had an affair with Trump. Vance's team appears to be focusing on tax fraud, insurance fraud, and bank fraud, all crimes Trump fixer Michael Cohen said were on the table. According to CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, this is significant because hush money payments are hard to prove because the prosecutors have to prove intent. Financial fraud, in contrast, is based on documents.

This seems to be bad news for Trump, and his lawyers were in court today trying again to stop Vance's subpoena of Trump's financial documents from his accountants, Mazars USA.

As for the upcoming election, there is something obvious in front of us:

No one is pretending that Trump is going to win the popular vote. He's not even trying to. He's doubling down on the culture wars that excite his base in the hopes of getting them to turn out in strong numbers, most recently by sending federal law enforcement officers into cities led by Democrats in order to create images of what looks like rioting, to enable him to set himself up as defending "law and order."

At the same time, he and his supporters in the Republican Party are working to guarantee an undercount of votes for his opponent by attacking mail-in voting, shutting down polling places, kicking people off voter rolls, undercutting the United States Postal Service, and even, perhaps, by permitting a wave of evictions that will make it significantly harder for displaced people to vote.

It is notable that, as a country, we are not talking about policies or winning majorities. We are talking about how Trump can win by gaming the Electoral College, or by cheating.

In the past few days, polls have shown that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is running strong against Trump in the Rust Belt swing states that Trump needs to win. A new poll yesterday shows Biden at 50% and Trump at 41% in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes Trump picked up in 2016 and that he sure would like to have again this time, although there are routes for him to win without them.

Also yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about a crisis in mail delivery. "Neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region are experiencing significant delays in receiving their mail, with some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills," it began. The recent overhaul of USPS procedures has led to the pileup of undelivered mail across the country.

The new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist, claims his new regulations are to promote efficiency, but the sudden slowdown of mail delivery just as people begin to receive and return their ballots raises concerns that it is a deliberate attempt to skew the vote. On "Fox News Sunday," yesterday, host Chris Wallace asked senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller "Isn't the postmaster general increasing the chances that the Postal Service will be overwhelmed… coming up to the election?" Miller replied that any problems would not be DeJoy's fault, but rather the fault of Democrats who are changing the rules around mail-in voting.

The Trump campaign is also alarmingly unwilling to rule out accepting foreign help to pull out a win. According to former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Trump asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for help swinging agricultural states back to the Trump camp with large purchases of U.S. agricultural products, an ask that he apparently got with the Chinese trade deal of January 15.

Last week, a Brazilian newspaper reported that U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman lobbied for lower ethanol tariffs by emphasizing "the importance for the Bolsonaro government of maintaining Donald Trump as U.S. President." According to a letter written by the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel (D-NY) and chair of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Albio Sires (D-NY) to Chapman, demanding an explanation by 5:00 on August 4, the article went on: "Iowa is the largest ethanol producer in the United States…and could be a key player in Trump's election. Hence the importance – according to Chapman – for the Bolsonaro government to do the U.S. a favor." The report has been independently confirmed by another Brazilian newspaper.

We know Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden and the company that had hired him, Burisma, before he would release congressionally appropriated money to help our ally resist Russian incursions. And we know that Ukrainians linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin are currently feeding information to Republicans involved with the Senate's own new investigation of Hunter Biden.

Last summer, Trump said he would take help from Russia or other countries if they produced information he could use against his opponents. On "Fox News Sunday," Jason Miller refused to say that the campaign would not accept foreign help in this election. Host Chris Wallace pressed him on the issue three times, and Miller simply called the question "silly."

"Can you flatly state that the Trump campaign and the administration will not accept foreign assistance this time?" Wallace asked. "Chris, I said that's an absolutely silly question. We're going to go and win this election fair and square," Miller answered.

In 2019, Ellen L. Weintraub, former chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) officially stated: "Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election." She continued, "This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation."

The FEC does not currently have enough members on it to have a quorum, leaving it unable to conduct business.

The concern that a sitting president is angling not to win reelection by appealing to a majority, but rather by using the apparatus of his high office to cheat, is unprecedented, and we must not normalize it.

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Notes:

https://www.mediaite.com/tv/you-cant-do-that-watch-the-most-stunning-exchanges-from-president-trumps-interview-with-axios-jonathan-swan/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/03/opinions/manhattan-da-subpeona-bad-news-trump-honig/index.html

Polls: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/02/politics/rust-belt-voters-analysis/index.html

https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia/usps-tracking-in-transit-late-mail-delivery-philadelphia-packages-postal-service-20200802.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-details-factbox-idUSKBN1ZE2IF

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/8/1/21350810/us-ambassador-brazil-chapman-favor-ethanol-trump-reelection

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/us/politics/trump-russia-fbi.html

https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/510175-foxs-wallace-presses-trump-advisor-on-whether-campaign-would

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jason-miller-response-election-interference-assistance_n_5f26e16dc5b6a34284bc1f20

https://www.fec.gov/resources/cms-content/documents/Chair_Weintraub_on_Illegal_Foreign_Contributions.pdf

https://www.rollcall.com/2020/05/19/fec-hamstrung-for-months-can-start-meeting-again/

https://www.rollcall.com/2020/05/19/fec-hamstrung-for-months-can-start-meeting-again/

https://www.rollcall.com/2020/06/26/fec-set-to-lose-its-quorum-again/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/03/politics/trump-birx-coronavirus-task-force/index.html

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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Something to Know - 3 August

The political news cycle in the past has usually been based on reactions to whatever Trumpie does or says.  News lately has been overshadowed by the looming and gowing disaster of his botched leadership on Covid-19.   He flails in response with inane and raucous executive orders and stunts arranged by Bully Barr.  And, the media reacts to whatever the White House throws out.   In the runup to the GeeOpie nomination, we have another ComicCon brewing, and the RNC does not want any reporters covering the possible squabbles amongst the conventioneers, and dissension and disloyalty to the incumbent.   As far as the Democrats are concerned, the hype and drama is now centered on who Biden is going to pick as his running mate; and maybe that is going to be the main buzz until he makes that choice.  Oh, and I almost forgot the red meat for the HCR fans; here she is


Biden's delay in choosing a running mate intensifies jockeying between potential picks

By 
Annie Linskey
August 2, 2020 at 4:46 p.m. PDT
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has extended his vice-presidential search by as much as two weeks, intensifying the jockeying and lobbying between allies of the women who hope to join his White House. Even some longtime Biden allies worry the process has become "messier than it should be," pitting women, especially Black women, against one another.

The dynamic threatens to undermine Biden's effort to use the vice-presidential search to spotlight some of the party's brightest female stars during the highly public vetting process. And it's already providing President Trump's campaign an opening to dig up dirt and launch attacks on potential rivals.
"It's been relentless. It's been unfortunate. But I must say it's been predictable," said Donna Brazile, a former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. "It's extremely disappointing, because many of these attacks . . . are being made by Democratic men who should know better."


"I would hope that in this selection process, we are mindful that Black women — and women of color — deserve respect," she added.
The increasing nastiness is fueled by a sense, even among Biden's closest advisers, that Biden is entering the final phase of the search without a clear favorite. Rather than a traditional "shortlist" of three candidates, people close to the process expect him to interview five or six finalists for the position.
Several people interviewed said the delay has intensified currents, many of them sexist, that have been swirling for weeks. The resulting backbiting risks inflaming divisions within the party that complicated the 2016 campaign — but that Biden has worked to coalesce since locking down the nomination in the spring.

In recent days a Politico report surfaced that former senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who is on Biden's vice-presidential vetting panel, told donors that Sen. Kamala D. Harris "had no remorse" for her attacks on Biden while on a debate stage. One donor implied to CNBC that Harris has too much "ambition." And former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a longtime Biden friend, told CNN that Harris can "rub people the wrong way."


Some of the comments are being made by high-ranking Democrats pushing alternative candidates such as Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and more recently Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), making some worry that women of color are being forced to kneecap one another.
"It bugs me that people want to pit these two Black women against the other," said Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a key Biden confidant, referring to the burgeoning Bass vs. Harris narrative. "Nobody is trying to pit Sen. Elizabeth Warren against [Michigan Gov. Gretchen] Whitmer. And both of their names are being mentioned every day as being in the search."

"It is messier than it should be because somebody is trying to create a story," Clyburn added.
In recent days the negative attention has focused on Bass, who has gone out of her way to stress that she is unable to "envision" herself as president. In 2008, former president Barack Obama told Biden to view the vice presidency as the "capstone" of his career, and Biden has said that he sees his relationship with Obama as a model.


The Daily Caller published a piece about a 2010 speech Bass gave at the ribbon cutting for a new Scientology facility that opened in Los Angeles, in which she seemed to praise the organization. The Atlantic published a lengthy article examining her past visits to Cuba and warm words for former leader Fidel Castro, and how it could cost votes in the key state of Florida.

The Trump campaign immediately seized on Bass's history with Cuba. "Joe Biden and Karen Bass Would Invite Castro's Communism into America," read a headline on a Trump campaign news release. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in a press call with reporters, warned that if selected she'd be "the highest-ranking Castro sympathizer in the history of the United States government."
Bass went on NBC News's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to show how she'd address those accusations, saying "I don't consider myself a Castro sympathizer" and she characterized her position on Cuba as "really no different than the position of the Obama administration."


She's also pushed back on the notion that she and Harris should be compared with one another. Bass and Harris spoke privately at a memorial service for the late congressman John Lewis last week. "It was good," Bass said of the conversation during a Friday interview on "The Breakfast Club." "She said 'We ain't doing that.' It was fine." Bass added: "I'm not the anti-Kamala."

Biden's decision to eliminate men from the selection process has meant that many of the candidates who would traditionally be considered for this role, like Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), are off the table. There's been no speculation about Andrew M. Cuomo, even as the New York governor's star rose during his daily coronavirus briefings. Vanquished contenders like former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee or former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg have also faded from the national conversation as the spotlight shifted to women.
And many noted that the competition to become the second-most-powerful person in the country is always going to be fierce. "It's natural that it's competitive," said Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) "It's historic regardless of who he chooses, so that probably adds to the intensity of it."


For her part, Harris allies have been lobbying the Biden team in public and in private. Top racial justice lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, penned an op-ed for CNN supporting her candidacy. Behind the scenes, powerful allies like Glenda Baskin Glover, the head of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and president of Tennessee State University, wrote to Biden's vetting team urging them to select Harris — a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

And Harris attempted to use the attacks on her "ambition" as a weapon.
"There will be a resistance to your ambition," she said Friday during Black Girls Lead 2020, a virtual conference for young Black women. "There will be people who say to you, 'You are out of your lane,' because they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you."


She also received an assist from Biden campaign manager Jennifer O'Malley Dillon that came soon after Dodd's comment. "Ambitious women make history, change the world, and win," O'Malley Dillon said in a social media post.
Biden's timeline for picking a vice president has slipped significantly. He initially said he would make the decision by Aug. 1, then said it would be the first week of August. Now the campaign is signaling that it will likely wait until the second week of August.

In an interview, Clyburn said Biden has only told him that he will make up his mind "before the convention." In 2008 and 2012, vice presidential candidates were announced just days before the convention.
Clyburn also said he believes it would be a "plus" for Biden to select a Black woman, but added the former vice president does not like being told what to do — and he provided some hint that he can't endorse one of the candidates.


"Of the 12 names out there, with one exception, I know all of them," Clyburn said in an interview with The Post. "There's one person that I don't know." Clyburn declined to say who on the list is unknown to him. (He made a similar comment on MSNBC last week, leading to speculation that he was throwing shade at former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, but Clyburn balked at that interpretation. "I know Susan Rice very, very well," Clyburn said.)

He said that he's trying to approach Biden carefully with his advice.
"Ultimatums are not good," Clyburn said. "I'm not going to tell the vice president what he must do." He warned that pushing Biden too hard can backfire. "Nobody wants to be forced," Clyburn said.
Others are taking a far different approach in the final days. The Rev. William Barber, a leader of the Poor People's Campaign, and roughly 50 other leading Black clergy members sent an open letter to Biden's campaign Friday "insisting" that he select a Black woman.


"We are writing to caution the Democratic party that it takes Black enthusiasm, the key determinant for turnout, for granted at its own peril" according to the letter, which predicts that a Democratic ticket that includes a Black woman will result in Black turnout that exceeds Obama's numbers in that community.
The decision will automatically elevate whichever woman is selected, either making history by installing her as the first female vice president or giving her a head start for the 2024 campaign should the ticket fail — which is a key reason that the stakes are so high.
The Biden campaign has been tight-lipped about its contenders. But that hasn't stopped allies and friends from speculating.
"If I had to bet my life on who would be the candidate, I'd still bet Harris," said Rendell, who is raising money for Biden and frequently talks to his top campaign officials. "She has the least negatives, she's the most polished. She's the person who can take on [Vice President] Pence in a campaign debate."
But he also made it clear how volatile the process has been. "The buzz the in the last three weeks — not this week — but the last few weeks, the buzz was Susan Rice," Rendell said last Thursday.
Her demeanor on television fueled the speculation, he said. "She was smiling on TV, something that she doesn't do all that readily," Rendell said. "She was actually somewhat charming on TV, something that she has not seemed to care about in the past."
The interview process for these women has been unusually public. Nearly all of the women in contention have headlined a fundraiser with Biden and appeared during at least one virtual event with his wife, Jill — a strong signal that Biden will closely consult his wife as he makes his decision.
The exchanges give each potential vice president some time to develop a rapport with Biden. On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) headlined a grass-roots fundraiser for him and at one point Biden apologized for going on too long.
"No! Don't be sorry," Warren said. "I love everything you had to say."


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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Andy Borowitz

No HCR today.  Just a Three-Fer from Mr. Borowitz:

Trump Warns That Mail-In Ballots 

Could Result in Voting

A person wearing a rubber glove placing a ballot in a mail box
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling the situation a "total disaster," Donald J. Trump warned on Sunday that the use of mail-in ballots could result in voting.
Appearing on Fox News, Trump said that there were "all kinds of studies" showing a "direct link" between mail-in ballots and votes cast.
"Wherever you've had mail-in ballots, there have been widespread cases of voting," he said. "We're not going to let that happen."

He said that other countries have solved the problem of "too many votes" by banning mail-in ballots altogether.

"You look at North Korea," Trump said. "They don't have mail-in ballots. They barely have mail. They're doing an amazing job."
Raising another issue with what he called "excessive voting," Trump warned that "the more votes you have, the higher the number you have to count to."
"When I took my cognitive test, I had to count to ten, and that was no walk in the park," he said. "And now you're telling me there's somebody out there who can count into the millions? Give me a break."
*****

Fauci Would Have Thought Twice 

About Career in Medicine Had He 

Known It Meant Someday Talking 

to Jim Jordan


Anthony Fauci testifies.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that he would have "thought twice" about pursuing a career in medicine had he known that it would lead to his talking someday to Representative Jim Jordan.
Speaking to reporters after his congressional testimony, Fauci said that, during his appearance in the hearing room, he had been revisiting the series of life choices that had resulted in his being forced to hear Jordan speak.

"I could have done so many other things with my life," the esteemed virologist said. "I could have been a firefighter. I was actually a pretty good dancer back in the day. I could have given that a shot."

Reflecting on those roads not taken, Fauci added, "Had I chosen any of those fields, you can bet your bottom dollar I wouldn't have spent today having to listen to Jim Jordan. Those are minutes I'll never get back."
Fauci clarified that he was "very grateful" for his career as an an epidemiologist but added, "Let's not kid ourselves. If I were a professional dancer, there's about a zero-per-cent chance I would ever be in the same room as Jim Jordan. Oh, well—it is what it is."
************

Trump Signs Executive Order 

Banning Month of November

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald Trump stirred controversy on Friday by signing an executive order that would ban the month of November.
While legal scholars protested that he did not have the right to reduce the number of months in a year from twelve to eleven, Trump argued that "the Constitution doesn't say anything about how many months you have to have."
"All of those smart guys like Jefferson and Madison, those beauties, this is something they didn't think of," he said. "I got them on the months."

Trump said that eliminating November from the calendar was "long overdue," calling it "a rigged month."

"November is a hoax," he said. "Some people say it may not even be a real month."
Responding to a reporter's question about the future of Thanksgiving, Trump said that "nobody will miss it."
"Just ask anyone in this country," he said. "Nobody has anything to be thankful for.

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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Something to Know - 1 August

The incumbent president is running out of issues to campaign on.   He really has botched the federal response to Covid-19, and the soaring daily number of infections and deaths contribute to his turning his back on the whole thing.  The economy is in the tank.  Students and schools are not opening, for the most part.  His poll numbers reveal that he is destined to be a one-term president.   The only issues left in his basket of stuff is from the Nixon textbook of Law and Order;  Bully Barr creates a private federal army and Trump sends the troops to urban centers to foment civil strife.   As a last resort, he needs to de-legitimize the election process, in any way possible.   He has chosen to screw up the US Postal Service so that mail in ballots do not get counted, either on time, or are lost in piles somewhere.  You can, as I did, send emails to your Senators and House Rep. to demand immediate necessary funding for the Postal Service, to counter blatant political corruption of our mail system.  While you are doing that, here is your HCR for today .

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/us/politics/trump-usps-mail-delays.html?campaign_id=2&emc=edit_th_20200801&instance_id=20907&nl=todaysheadlines&regi_id=2318049&segment_id=34983&user_id=af58c63b30a52a2ca05d6e1633e35b95

Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting

The president's long campaign against the Postal Service is intersecting with his assault on mail-in voting amid concerns that he has politicized oversight of the agency.

  • July 31, 2020
WASHINGTON — Welcome to the next election battleground: the post office.
President Trump's yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.

In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a "CORRUPT ELECTION" that will "LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY" and become the "SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES." He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.
Members of Congress and state officials in both parties rejected the president's suggestion and his claim that mail-in ballots would result in widespread fraud. But they are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.
At the same time, the mail system is being undercut in ways set in motion by Mr. Trump. Fueled by animus for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and surrounded by advisers who have long called for privatizing the post office, Mr. Trump and his appointees have begun taking cost-cutting steps that appear to have led to slower and less reliable delivery.



In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.
Voting rights groups say it is a recipe for disaster.
"We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service," said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was "deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it."
Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, one of five states where mail-in balloting is universal, said Wednesday on NPR's "1A" program that "election officials are very concerned, if the post office is reducing service, that we will be able to get ballots to people in time."

During his eulogy on Thursday for Representative John Lewis, former President Barack Obama lamented what he said was a continuing effort to attack voting rights "with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don't get sick."


Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, defended the changes, saying in a statement that the ban on overtime was intended to "improve operational efficiency" and to "ensure that we meet our service standards."



Mr. DeJoy declined to be interviewed. David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said that the nation's post offices had "ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic."


A plunge in the amount of mail because of a recession — which the United States entered into in February — has cost the Postal Service billions of dollars in revenue, with some analysts predicting that the agency will run out of money by spring. Democrats have proposed an infusion of $25 billion. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans, who are opposed to the funding, of wanting to "diminish the capacity of the Postal System to work in a timely fashion."

Arthur B. Sackler, who runs the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the biggest bulk mailers, said the changes were concerning even though his organization did not take a position on voting by mail.
"Like any other mail, this could complicate what is already going to be a complicated process," Mr. Sackler said. "A huge number of jurisdictions are totally inexperienced in vote by mail. They have never had the avalanche of interest that they have this year."
Many states have already loosened restrictions on who can vote by mail: In Kentucky, mail-in ballots accounted for 85 percent of the vote in June's primary. In Vermont, requests for mail-in ballots are up 1,000 percent over 2018.
Michigan voters had requested nearly 1.8 million mail-in ballots by the end of July, compared with about 500,000 by the similar time four years ago, after the secretary of state mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters.



In the suburban Virginia district of Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat who leads the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, 1,300 people voted by mail in a 2019 primary — last month, more than 34,000 did.
"We are worried about new management at the Postal Service that is carrying out Trump's avowed opposition to voting by mail," Mr. Connolly said. "I don't think that's speculation. I think we are witnessing that in front of our own eyes."
Erratic service could delay the delivery of blank ballots to people who request them. And in 34 states, completed ballots that are not received by Election Day — this year it is Nov. 3 — are invalidated, raising the prospect that some voters could be disenfranchised if the mail system buckles.
In other states, ballots can be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, but voting rights groups say ballots are often erroneously delivered without a postmark, which prevents them from being counted.

The ability of the Postal Service "to timely deliver and return absentee ballots and their work to postmark those ballots will literally determine whether or not voters are disenfranchised during the pandemic," said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
In New York, where officials urged people not to cast ballots in person during June's primary, counting of mail-in ballots is still underway weeks later, leaving some crucial races undecided. In some cases, ballots received without postmarks are being discarded.
Making the problem worse, New York law requires that election officials wait to begin counting mail-in ballots until the polls close on Election Day. Other states allow counting to begin earlier, though most insist that no results be revealed until after voting ends. In Arizona, officials can begin tallying votes 14 days early. In Florida, officials can begin verifying signatures on ballots 22 days before the election.


Mr. Trump and his allies have seized upon the New York debacle as evidence that he is right to oppose mail-in ballots. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, called it an "absolute catastrophe," and the president referred to New York in a tweet that said, "Rigged Election, and EVERYONE knows it!"
But Mr. Trump — who himself has repeatedly voted by mail in recent elections — has set in motion changes at the Postal Service that could make the problem worse.




A series of Postal Service documents titled "PMGs expectations," a reference to the postmaster general, describe how Mr. Trump's new leadership team is trying to cut costs.

"Overtime will be eliminated," says the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post. "Again, we are paying too much overtime, and it is not cost effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this."
The document continues: "The U.S.P.S. will no longer use excessive cost to get the basic job done. If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day."
Another document, dated July 10, says, "One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or on the workroom floor or docks."


With the agency under financial pressure, some offices have also begun to cut back on hours. The result, according to postal workers, members of Congress and major post office customers, is a noticeable slowdown in delivery.
"The policies that the new postmaster general is putting into place — they couldn't lead to anything but degradation of service," said Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union. "Anything that slows down the mail could have a negative impact on everything we do, including vote by mail."

The Postal Service, which runs more than 31,000 post offices in the United States, has struggled financially for years, in part because of its legal obligation to deliver mail everywhere, even remote locations that would be unprofitable for a private company.
A 2018 report by the Treasury Department recommended an overhaul of the Postal Service, which the report said accumulated losses of $69 billion from 2007 to 2018.
But the administration's critics say the changes being put in place by Mr. DeJoy are part of a political agenda to move toward privatization of the Postal Service.

In mid-July, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Mr. Connolly wrote a letter to Mr. DeJoy raising questions about the ban on overtime and the other changes.
"While these changes in a normal year would be drastic," the lawmakers wrote, "in a presidential election year when many states are relying heavily on absentee mail-in ballots, increases in mail delivery timing would impair the ability of ballots to be received and counted in a timely manner — an unacceptable outcome for a free and fair election."

Mr. Trump has been assailing the Postal Service since early in his presidency, tweeting in 2017 that the agency was becoming "dumber and poorer" because it charged big companies too little for delivering their packages.
The president has repeatedly blamed Mr. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post, for the financial plight of the Postal Service, insisting that the post office charges Amazon too little, an assertion that many experts have rejected as false.
In the past three years, the president has replaced all six members of the Postal Service Board of Governors.

In May, the board, which includes two Democrats, selected Mr. DeJoy, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has contributed more than $1.5 million to Mr. Trump's 2016 and 2020 campaigns, to be postmaster general. According to financial disclosures, Mr. DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, who has been nominated to be the ambassador to Canada, have $115,002 to $300,000 invested in the Postal Service's major competitor, UPS.
Two board members have since departed. David C. Williams, the vice chairman, left in April over concerns that the Postal Service was becoming increasingly politicized by the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Ronald Stroman, who oversaw mail-in voting and relations with election officials, resigned in May.
One of the remaining members, Robert M. Duncan, is a former Republican National Committee chairman who has been a campaign donor to Mr. Trump.


In accusing the administration of politicizing the Postal Service, the president's critics point to a recent decision to send a mailer detailing guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. The mailer, which featured Mr. Trump's name in a campaignlike style, was sent in March to 130 million American households at a reported cost of $28 million.
According to Postal Service emails obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Trump was personally involved.
"I know that POTUS personally approved this postcard and is aware of the USPS effort in service to the nation — pushing information out to every household, urban and rural," John M. Barger, a governor of the postal system, wrote in an email to the postmaster general at the time.

In another email, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told a member of the board that Dr. Stephen C. Redd, a deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "will make this happen." The mailer received a go-ahead from the White House before it was sent out, the emails show.
S. David Fineman, who served on the board under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that during his time, the board rarely if ever had contact with the White House.
"I've never seen anything quite like this," he said. "No one would have thought that we would have sought the input of the administration."


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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Friday, July 31, 2020

A Little Afternoon Melodic Interlude


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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know - 31 July

It is the last day of July, and the day of the election is in sight at the end of the tunnel.   HCR is here for those who don't get it anywhere else.   As has been pointed out by my friend in the Ojai News Bureau (ONB), there should be more knowledge distributed for the removal of the degenerate individual #1 from office.  I agree.  Now, if we follow the reaction to trump's stupid suggestion to delay the election, you will notice that Moscow Mitch, Kevin McCarthy, and several other top GeeOpie officials blew back on that in rapid order.  This, to me, signifies that the fearsome claws of retaliation against those who DARE to not obey or follow is waning.  Trump's suggestion to delay the election, with false and misleading reasoning, indicates that he has no knowledge of the history of the United States election process, and actually reveals that he admits that he is going to lose, and to do so very badly, and biggly.  If the end result is losing, it's not that all the Republicans down ballot are going to suffer the same fate on his coattails, he really couldn't care less about them.   Upon the inauguration of the next president, trump loses any supposed immunity from prosecution, and the bursting-at-the-seams dam of prosecutable subpoenas and endless litigation and undoubtable damage to the financial health of the Trump brand will occur.  His financial empire may cease to exist - and that is all he cares about.   If he begins to see that his reliable enablers in Congress are leaving him, he may quit out of spite to punish those who did not back him up.  If that happens, and it could, he would not suffer the election night shame, but he would be too stupid to realize that the force of all things legal would immediately pounce on him.  So, may ponder the possibility that the so-called Republican convention in a few weeks may result in him not being nominated?   Think about that.   Those with political futures looking bleak, may do all possible to cover their asses.  I'm just sayin'.


Trump, Please Quit Before You're Fired

By walking away, he can save the lives of supporters who have listened to his lethal quackery.

Timothy Egan

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

It was clear when President Trump woke up on Thursday morning, with no pollster left to lie to him, and not enough Fox News sycophancy to fill his cereal bowl, that he would have to play one of the last tricks in the dictator's handbook.
He floated the idea of breaching the Constitution by illegally delaying the national election. It follows his logic on a pandemic that has taken more than 150,000 American lives. If there were less testing for the coronavirus, cases would go down. Ergo, if there were no election on Nov. 3, he couldn't be booted from office in a wipeout. The stable genius strikes again!
Here's a better suggestion: As a mortal threat to those looking for life-and-death guidance from the White House, he should do humanity a favor and surrender now. He can quit while he's only behind by 10 points or so. More important, by walking away today, he can save many lives of supporters who have listened to the lethal quackery from the presidential podium.
He gave up in the war on Covid-19 from Day 1, when he declared that there was nothing to worry about, it would all soon disappear like magic. And his throw-in-the-towel tactics continue to this day, as he promotes the harmful and bizarre suggestions of a woman who also believes in demon sperm transmitted through dreams.

And here's the net result of a country run by a crackpot: On a single day this week, there were nearly twice as many Covid-19 deaths in just one American state, Texas, than in the five major countries of Western Europe combined. On that same day, Thursday, the Covid Tracking Project reported 1,400 American deaths, the most in a single day since May 15.
Trump publicly quit on his country two years ago, when he chose Vladimir Putin's word over that of American intelligence officials, the infamous sellout in Helsinki. So it was no surprise when the two leaders spoke by phone this week, that Trump did not even raise the question of Russians paying a bounty to have American soldiers killed in Afghanistan. That is dereliction of duty, son.

He quit on the economy in early spring, when he pushed for a widespread reopening, even though health experts warned that the results could be catastrophic. And thus, this week we saw the largest drop in economic output on record, as people were afraid to resume normal commerce in a country fevered with viral hotspots.
Trump has yet to realize what every sensible business owner knows: The only path back to prosperity is through the managed economic sacrifice and uniform health guidelines needed to get the virus under control.
He quit on the Constitution, obstructing Congress and abusing power, in the scheme to tie aid to a struggling ally to a demand that Ukraine dig up dirt on a political opponent.

From there, he's become increasingly authoritarian. Clearing a park full of peaceful protesters by force in order to stage a photo op with a Bible was just the start.
Of late, Trump has been itching for a riot. With buildings aflame, windows smashed and mobs in the streets, he could fulfill his prophecy of being the only man able to fix the American carnage he warned us about. Majorities support changes needed to root out systemic racism. The only way that Trump can hold back the tide is to change the story.
Except, some of the players are not who we think they are. The police have identified the man who turned largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests into mayhem in Minneapolis — the window-smashing Umbrella Man — as a white supremacist.
Sending Trump's troops into American cities appears to have backfired, even as the president announced plans to possibly send new federal agents into Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit, counting on swing state showdowns for the Fox News machine.
If Trump were to quit, he would join Richard Nixon in disgrace — he'd be an impeached president (Nixon quit on the brink of impeachment) forced from office. Except, Nixon is a notch higher in the hell-scape, given his diplomatic openings in China and his signing of landmark environmental laws.

Delaying the Nov. 3 election is not only illegal, it would be unprecedented. Lincoln held the regular election during the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt faced voters on time during World War II.

If Trump were to walk away today, the likely nominee of his party would be Mike Pence. And Democrats shouldn't be afraid of facing Pence. He's Trump with a pious veneer, the man sent to the border to justify putting kids in cages, the Stepford veep always there with a timely bootlick. And of course, he carries a portfolio of failure as the man chosen to oversee the federal government's disastrous response to the pandemic.

Quitting before an election would deprive Americans of the satisfaction of rejecting him by an overwhelming margin, a national shower to clean off four years of his grime and grift.
But there's another image, equally satisfying. Trump could play one last gambit in the dictator's checklist and refuse to leave office on Jan. 20 — election or no election — as required by the Constitution. If he does this, a weary nation would be rewarded with a presidential perp walk, as Trump is escorted out of the White House and into infamy by military police.


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Juan

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.