insult politics

At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Has she earned that seat? I don’t know, probably not–or at least not yet–but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Is she qualified? I don’t know, maybe, but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Do the American people support her? Some do, some don’t, and it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

It will be given to her in the same way SCOTUS seats were given to Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. It will be given to her as a display of raw political power. It will be given to her as an expression of the modern Republican Party’s sneering disregard to representative democracy. It will be given to her as a demonstration that Republicans in the Senate can do whatever they want and Democrats are helpless to stop them. It’s the legislative equivalent of the Trumpist slogan Fuck your feelings.

It’s hateful aggressive bullying, plain and simple. It’s the same thing Trump supporters are doing all across the nation. It’s deliberately coughing in the face of a person wearing a mask. It’s driving trucks decked with Trump flags and signs through a BLM demonstration, honking horns and shooting people with paint guns. It’s purposely mispronouncing Kamala’s name. It’s openly carrying semi-auto rifles into the coffee shop, into the supermarket, into the state capitol building. It’s a flag saying ‘Make Liberals Cry’. It’s blocking access to ballot boxes and harassing voters. It’s calling the police to report a black person for being a black person doing what a white person can do. It’s a t-shirt that says ‘Free Michigan, Fuck Whitmer’.

Modern Republicans didn’t invent insult politics. They’ve been around for centuries. It’s been written that the Roman emperor Caligula planned to appoint his favorite horse, Incitatus, a consul of Rome–the highest elected or appointed office in the Roman Republic. It didn’t happen, but it’s a classic example of insult politics.

I’m not comparing Amy Coney Barrett to a horse. Unlike Incitatus, Barrett may, in fact, be qualified to sit on a high court bench. Even the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter, because she’s not being given the seat because she’s the best candidate to fill it. Republicans could have chosen any of dozens of interchangeable, reliably conservative judges who’d vote the way they expect her to vote. They chose her because she’s a Catholic woman, and would give them a chance to accuse Democrats of being against religion and women. They chose her because it’s easier to bully somebody when you think they can’t or won’t fight back.

Giving a SCOTUS seat to Amy Coney Barrett is a deliberate insult. It’s a general insult to democracy, and a very specific, intentional slap in the face to Democrats. Giving her a seat is an insult to the Supreme Court. It could be said it’s an insult to Amy Coney Barrett herself, because it’s entirely possible she could have earned a spot on the Supreme Court. (The same is true of Gorsuch, who might have earned a seat; it’s not true of Kavanaugh, who lacked the temperament and probity to occupy a SCOTUS seat.)

The fact that Barrett is willing to accept a seat on the Supreme Court as a gift is, sadly, telling. It meant she didn’t have to answer any tough, important questions during her confirmation hearing. Does a president have the power to delay an election? The US Constitution offers a clear answer: no. Elections are held “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Should a president commit to the peaceful transfer of power? The answer is obvious: yes. But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

My objection to Amy Coney Barrett isn’t grounded in her politics. Well, not entirely. My objection is the rank hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and their disregard for the process of democracy. They could have waited to give her the seat until after the election. They could have waited for the American people to speak their minds through their votes. They could have chosen NOT to just giver her a seat on the Supreme Court. But no. They could have acted decently and honorably. But no. They did what they wanted because they knew nobody could stop them, because they had the power to impose their will on American society.

That’s all there is to it. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States as a testament to the conservative commitment of pissing off Democrats.

not even a dog

Yesterday on Facebook I responded to a post by one of my senators (Charles Grassley, who at one time was a principled conservative but has devolved into a hypocritical party hack) who chastized “Democrats & liberals in the press” for not giving enough attention to the Hunter Biden Laptop Lunatic Conspiracy Theory. I said this in response:

Generally, advancing a Russian disinformation operation is considered unAmerican. Sad to see you taking such a position.

Several Trump/Grassley supporters took me to task for suggesting the laptop fuss followed the pattern of a classic Russian dezinformatsiya scheme (which it totally does).

— “Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Monday said that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign”.”
— our TDS Delusion is blinding you!! Hunter’s ATTORNEY contacted the computer shop, wanting to retrieve his client’s laptop!!! If this laptop has been in FBI custody since Nov. or Dec., 2019, HOW DID RUSSIA GET AHOLD OF IT, OR HAVE ACCESS TO IT??
— YOUR TDS IS IN THE WAY!! THIS LAPTOP, NOW CORROBORATED BY HUNTER’S ATTORNEY, IS LEGIT AND HUNTER HAS A PEDO PROBLEM AS WELL AS LOTS OF MONEY THAT HE AND “POP” HAVEN’T PAID ANY TAXES ON!!
— oh here we go again, everytime a Democrat gets caught dirty the ” Russians” did it, learn a new tune numbskull
— So you think just because the MSM isn’t covering this that it doesn’t exist?? WOW – and you call me stupid and gullible?? It is NOT a LIE, and when Joe-Joe and Hunter go to prison, maybe you’ll believe it then!! The laptop was corroboated by Hunter’s own attorney, plus Hunter’s buddies, Bevan Cooney and Devin Archer, who are both facing prison time for all of these crazy financial deals; they have now turned over 26,000+ e-mails which are also on Hunter’s laptop!! They were in on this; flipped on their buddy as they go to prison, and Hunter gets to be free FOR NOW!! Since Joe-Joe got half of all of the money, just think of all the taxes that Joe-Joe did NOT PAY on all those millions!! Hope the IRS pays him a visit!!
— has nothing to do with the Russians. It is left wing bias by Twitter and Facebook.
— FOX Tucker Carlson verified it today.

Where to start? Maybe with the claim that Hunter Biden’s attorney ‘corroboated’ the idea that the laptop belong to his client. George Mesires, the attorney in question, told the Washington Post, “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the NY Post.” So no, that dog don’t hunt.

What about the suggestion that since the laptop has been in FBI custody since late 2019, there was no way for Russia to “GET AHOLD OF IT“? It would indeed be difficult for Russians (or anybody else) to get access to a hard drive stored in an FBI evidence facility. It would, though, be relatively easy for Russians (or anybody else) to load disinformation onto the drives of three laptops and deliver them to a strip mall computer repair shop in Delaware run by a legally blind Trump supporter and claim they were the property of Hunter Biden (who, by the way, lived in California at the time, which makes it improbable that he’d fly to his daddy’s home state to get his computers repaired). So no, that dog don’t hunt either.

Well, how about the claim that Hunter Biden “HAS A PEDO PROBLEM“? This nasty bit of bullshit was launched by a photo printed in the NY Post article. It shows the front of a subpoena form that doesn’t list a recipient or identify anything the recipient is required to produce. However, there appears to be writing on the back of the form which has bled through to the front (in reverse, of course), and includes a signature that could be that of FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson, who has worked on child pornography cases. There’s literally nothing on the form to indicate the subpoena was for Hunter Biden, or that it involved a laptop, or that child porn is involved. So no, that dog don’t hunt and is probably asleep on the porch.

One of many dogs that just don’t hunt.

So what about the fact that Tucker Carlson “verified it”? Let’s just remind folks that a federal judge just dismissed a slander lawsuit against Carlson after agreeing with Carlson’s own lawyers that “given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.” In other words, Carlson’s employer, FOX News, admits that he is full of shit and can’t be relied on as a fact witness. In fact, the Biden laptop ‘scandal’ was so thin that FOX News refused to report it as news. That didn’t stop FOX commentators (like Tucker Carlson) from talking about it incessantly, of course. But it’s worth noting that even Breitbart, a normally reliable engine for lunatic right-wing conspiracy theories, was skeptical about the story. So no, that dog don’t hunt and it may not even be a dog.

DNI John Ratcliffe momentarily not kissing Trump’s pale plump ass.

But hey, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe…what about his claim that the laptop in question “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign“? If you can’t trust the DNI, then who can you trust? Sadly, you really can’t trust the DNI IF the DNI is John Ratcliffe.

Let’s first acknowledge that Ratcliffe, a notorious Trump ass-kisser, is Trump’s fourth DNI in just under four years. Let’s also acknowledge that the first time Trump nominated Ratcliffe to be DNI (after Trump forced DNI Dan Coats to resign after Coats agreed that Russia implemented a disinformation op to help elect Donald Trump in 2016), the nomination had to be withdrawn because even Trump supporters in the Senate felt Ratcliffe wasn’t qualified and couldn’t be trusted not to politicize intelligence issues. In the interim, there were two other DNIs; Joseph Maguire, who was fired for briefing the House Intelligence Committee that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and was planning on doing it again in 2020, and Richard Grenell, a Trump supporter without any intelligence experience who also couldn’t be confirmed by the Senate. After Grenell, the Senate confirmed Ratcliffe as DNI on a party line vote (because at that point the GOP had basically given up any hope of checking Trump). Although he’s only been DNI for five months, Ratcliffe has routinely violated norms by mining and declassifying material (mostly dealing with Hunter Biden and Ukraine) that might help Trump’s re-election campaign.

The CIA’s assessment of the laptop ‘scandal’ is that it’s likely a dezinformatsiya operation “probably directed” by Putin and his top aides, implemented by Russian asset Andrii Derkach in Ukraine, with the presumably unwitting assistance of Rudy Giuliani (is Rudy really that stupid? Maybe.). More than fifty former senior intelligence officials–including former Trump administration officials–have signed a letter stating the laptop ‘scandal’ “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The FBI, which has custody of the laptop hard drive, has reportedly opened an investigation to determine if this is a Russian disinformation operation.

So no, the Ratcliffe dog don’t hunt, and isn’t a dog, or even a mammal. It’s more of a slime mold–a eukaryotic organism not known for hunting.

But I’ve got a shiny new nickle that says during tomorrow night’s debate, Comrade Trump will repeatedly accuse Joe Biden’s son of being corrupt and possibly a pedophile on national television. That in itself is reason enough to vote him out of office.

is the pope wet?

“Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election?”

In a normal, functional, representative democracy, that question would never be asked. It wouldn’t even be considered. It’s like asking ‘Is water wet?’ or ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ It’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked because the answer is glaringly obvious. To almost any other political figure, the question itself would be an insult. The fact that a reporter — any number of reporters and a big chunk of the voting population — felt the need to ask that question is a measure of how far we’ve moved toward an authoritarian regime.

But even so, Comrade Trump’s answer should have been immediate and straightforward, because there’s only one acceptable answer. “Yes, of course, I’ll commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Is the Pope wet? Is water Catholic?”

That wasn’t Trump’s answer. Instead, he said this:

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.”

The horrible thing about that answer — one of the many horrible things about it — is that we already know what’s going to happen. We don’t know how the popular vote will turn out, but we know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what the electoral vote will be, but we sure as hell know what’s going to happen. We don’t know who’ll legitimately win or lose the 2020 election, but we absofuckinglutely know what’s going to happen.

What’s going to happen is this: Comrade Trump will declare himself the winner.

We know that’s going to happen because he’s publicly stated that’s the only election result he’ll accept. He’s said that repeatedly. It’s one of the few things he’s said that we can believe. Worse, when he says, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” he’s not just declaring any other result would be invalid, he’s also prepping his followers to take the same position. He’s prepping his followers to take action.

They will take the election from us. That’s it, right there. Trump’s power depends on dividing the nation. It depends on his followers seeing themselves as victims. It depends on scaring his followers. Frightened people are easier to lead.

Trump is entirely shameless about frightening his followers and laying a foundation to declare the election invalid. He’s willing to make up the most ridiculous lies and spread them as widely as possible, without any sense of embarrassment or guilt. He’s not afraid of getting caught in a lie because he knows his supporters either don’t care about the lies or stupidly believe them. Like this one:

This is about the stupidest fucking thing possible. Foreign countries (and others? WTF does that even mean? other what?) printing millions of ballots. That’s stupid on about nineteen different levels. Even if foreign countries (and others) DID print millions of ballots, how would they get them to the voters? Do they mail them from North Korea and Iran? How much is postage for a million ballots from Tehran to Kansas City? Do they fill container ships with ballots and ship them to the US and…what, take them to the post office in rented semi-trucks? Wouldn’t somebody notice that?

The scandal of our times isn’t that foreign countries will print millions of fake ballots; it’s that we have a president who can say astonishingly stupid shit like this and get away with it. The scandal of our times is that his followers will repeat it — and maybe even believe it.

Actually, the scandal of our times is that Comrade Trump is the President of the United States. The scandal is that he’s willing to do and say almost anything to remain in power. It’s that he might actually succeed.

We know what’s going to happen. We know that regardless of what the votes say, Trump will claim a victory. We know, regardless of the voting, he won’t concede.

As a nation, we aren’t prepared for that. We’ve always assumed our presidents would be decent, honorable, conscientious people. We were wrong.

The Pope is wet. Water is Catholic.

hard put and desperate

I like Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He’s a solid Democrat of the old school. He’s a nice guy with liberal beliefs and has, as far as I know, always tried to do the right thing. So would somebody please take him aside and slap some sense into him?

Wait. I’ll do it.

First off, Chris, those people across the aisle? They’re not your friends. Not really. They may be nice to you, they may laugh and joke with you, they may even say they agree with you, but don’t think they’re your friends. Down at the bone, they’re Trump Republicans. They may disagree with Trump, they may actually despise him, but they’re going to do what he wants. Trump Republicans support Trump, period.

Second — and Chris, I shouldn’t have to tell you this — they’re not going to respect tradition. They’re not going to respect precedent. They’ve shown you that repeatedly. What in the hell makes you think they’d start respecting those things now? What they respect is the exercise of raw political power.

And finally, because they’re not your friends and because they’re not going to respect tradition or precedent and because at this point they only respect political power, they’re not going to be persuadable. They’re just not. A few may be willing to agree that it’s wrong to rush a SCOTUS nomination through 43 days before election day (votes are actually being cast right now, for fuck’s sake), but Chris, they’re not motivated by respect or friendship; they’re motivated by the only thing they fear more than Trump: losing their election.

I hate to say this, Chris, I really do. But right now the only way to get Congressional Republicans to do what’s right is to use their own tactics against them. Do it reluctantly, but do it. Let them know that if they replace Justice Ginsburg before the election, you’re going to go Outlaw Josey Wales on their ass. Tell them that, and mean it. Follow through on it.

Don’t waste your time trying to persuade Trump Republicans. Instead, persuade your Democratic colleagues in the House to go Josey Wales with you. And let Trump and his Congressional co-conspirators know you’re willing to burn the motherfucker down.

If they hold a confirmation hearing, Democrats in the Senate and House should walk out. Walk right the fuck out, and don’t go back. When they want to pass the next continuing resolution in order to fund the government, tell them to piss up a rope. Start another round of impeachment hearings in the House. Impeach Trump again. Hell, impeach Justice Kavanaugh for lying to Congress. Launch an investigation into how Kavanaugh paid off all his debts before his confirmation hearing. Investigate the Russian bounty on troops in Afghanistan. Investigate the Trump family’s alleged financial crimes. Investigate and call witnesses and don’t do a damn thing else until the election.

I really hate to say that. I can’t think of anything more corrosive to effective governance than deliberate sabotage by one political party. But that’s just it. That’s exactly what Republicans have done since Obama was elected. If Democrats win in the 2020 election — if they take the White House and the Senate — then we can try to return to some sort of normal governance. If Democrats lose — if Trump remains in office — then normal governance will be dead. It’ll be four more years of fighting a losing battle against authoritarianism.

The Josey Wales Way is a lousy way to run a government, even for 43 days. But as Granny Hawking said, Josey Wales was “a hard put and desperate man” and that’s where we are as Democrats. Against the blatant power grab of a hurried SCOTUS nomination, J. Wales might be the best chance we have. Because things are looking bad, and “when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t know if I’ll feel this way tomorrow. But this is how I feel today. Republican hypocrisy and double dealing will only get worse if we try to play by normal rules.

trump has things on a plate

What does it say about Republicans that their new hero is an out-of-shape 17-year-old white kid who armed himself with a borrowed semi-automatic weapon that he didn’t have the training, discipline, or emotional maturity necessary to handle effectively, and who inserted himself into an intensely chaotic, emotionally charged, violent situation he lacked the experience and situational awareness to handle, and who panicked when he was overtaken by events he wasn’t prepared to deal with?

I suppose it makes some sense. I mean, these same Republicans support an out-of-shape president who doesn’t have the training, discipline, or emotional maturity to handle his office effectively, and whose lack of experience creates intensely chaotic, emotionally charged, violent situations, and who panics when faced with situations he’s not prepared to deal with.

To maintain order we need the aid of emotionally underdeveloped 17-year-old boys with guns.

Kyle Rittenhouse and Donald Trump have a lot in common. They both seem to believe they’re more competent than they actually are. They both seem to share fantasies of being heroic. They both have issues with women. And they both adore Trump. In his defense, Rittenhouse is at least willing to get his hands dirty (no, I don’t mean by shooting people; I mean Rittenhouse spent some time cleaning graffiti off a building — can you imagine Trump doing that?).

What happened in Kenosha is perfectly on-brand for Trump. He values loyalty above competence and expertise (and by ‘loyalty’ I mean ‘boot-licking’ and ‘groveling’ and ‘hero worship’). It’s hardly surprising, then, that Trump and his followers would praise a 17-year-old loyalist for picking up an AR-15 and heading to Kenosha to help ‘maintain order’ in a situation that’s confounded trained police officers. It’s not surprising that Trump, when mayors and governors refuse his unwanted offers of assistance, will encourage caravans of truck-drivers and motorcyclists to invade a community to help ‘maintain order’. Trump is less interested in results than he is in having people follow his orders, whatever they are.

This is the Bizarro world we live in. It’s a world in which Trump can tweet ‘Law and Order!‘ as he fights a subpoena to provide DNA in an alleged rape case (which, if he was innocent, would clear him). It’s a world in which Trump shouts about election fraud even as he refuses to act against a hostile foreign nation that’s actively rat-fucking the election in Trump’s favor.

Future GOP member of Congress?

If Kyle Rittenhouse doesn’t spend the next few years in prison, he’ll very likely have a successful political career with the Republican Party. This is just a guess, but I suspect Kyle is probably more articulate than the president. A few days ago, when asked by the NY Times what his plans were for a second term, Trump said,

“But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.”

There you go. If you were looking for a reason to vote for Trump, now you have one. He has a plate, and that plate has things on it. One of those things is a 17-year-old boy who’s killed two people. Vote Trump 2020. MAGA.

piece of cake

Just stop and think for a second. Just stop, take a moment, take a deep breath, and remember these three things:

  • Comrade Trump lies.
  • There are about 157 million registered voters in the U.S.
  • On a normal day the USPS delivers 472 million pieces of mail.

So when Trump says the Postal Service can’t handle the crush of election ballots, he’s lying. They absolutely can do the job. Even if every single one of those hundred and fifty-seven million voters put their ballot in the mail, the Postal Service would be able to sort them and deliver them to the proper address. Hell, last year the Postal Service delivered 2.5 billion pieces of mail in the week before Christmas.

Seriously, the USPS has this process down. Here’s what happens when you slide your ballot into a mailbox along with all the other envelopes people have dropped in there. Somebody fetches all the mail from that box and takes it to a mail processing plant. Machines separate mail by shape and size. The envelopes are oriented so the addresses are right-side up and facing the same direction. The envelopes are scanned, given a postmark, and machines print cancellation lines across postage stamps. A fluorescent bar code is imprinted on the back of each piece of mail. An optical scanner scans the address, then a bar code representing the specific address is sprayed on the front of the envelope . Other machines read the bar codes and direct the letters into bins based on ZIP codes. The bins are then flown or trucked to a regional processing plant. At the final processing plant, the same thing happens. Instead of sorting individual envelopes into bulk bins, the bulk bins are sorted into individual envelopes. Those envelopes are taken to individual post offices, loaded onto trays, and distributed to individual vehicles and individual carriers for delivery.

Your ballot envelope has been developed to speed that process. Most mail-in voters will get postage-paid envelopes for returning their ballots, the address is pre-printed and prepared for machine sorting, and (unless you’re a true absentee voter) your ballot is probably already in the correct regional processing plant. Easy peasy lemon breezy.

Delivering a hundred and fifty-seven million pre-addressed postage-paid ballot envelopes? Piece of cake. The USPS has the infrastructure, the technology, the human resources, and the commitment of their personnel to get the job done quickly and professionally.

Unless the process gets disrupted. That would take a concerted effort to degrade the infrastructure (like removing mailboxes), to eliminate the technology (like removing sorting machines), to put limits on the people (like putting an end to overtime), and to undermine the commitment of the members of the USPS (by destroying their creed to deliver all the mail in a timely fashion regardless of weather).

The only way to disrupt voting by mail is for some corrupt motherfucker to install a corrupt motherfucker as Postmaster General and for other corrupt motherfuckers in Congress to shrug and turn away while yet another American institution is destroyed.

gloom of trump

You’ve heard it a million times, often incorrectly. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. It’s the creed of the United States Post Office.

The Post Office is maybe the most democratic institution in all of These United States. You put any sort of reasonable address on an envelope, slap a fifty-five cent stamp on it, stick it in your mailbox and the Post Office will send somebody right to your house, fetch that envelope right outa your mail box, and carry it to that address, usually within one to three business days.

Delivering mail in the rain during a damn pandemic.

Don’t matter if that address is in Manhattan or Boise or some farm house outside of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Some poor carrier in Sidney, Montana has to drive a mail route nearly two hundred miles long to deliver the mail to 272 mailboxes. There are 176 folks who live along a 30-mile stretch of the Magnolia River in Alabama who get their mail delivered by boat. A native tribe, the Havasupai, who live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon get their mail after an eight-mile trip down the canyon using mules. Mules. You got a legit address, the Post Office will deliver your mail. And yeah, even if it’s raining or snowing or hot or gloomy AF.

Delivering mail by a damn mule train.

The USPS isn’t perfect, but considering the massive scale and scope of their mission they do a damned good job. Again, First Class postage is only fifty-five cents. If somebody asked me to walk the thirty feet to my mailbox in the rain in exchange for fifty-five cents, I’d tell them to piss off.

But Comrade Donald Trump is deliberately wrecking the Postal Service. Deliberately. And he’s doing it for the most corrupt reason: to make it harder for US citizens to vote during a pandemic.

He replaced the Postmaster General — Megan Brennan, a woman whose 34-year career with the USPS began as a letter carrier, who was familiar with every operation inside the USPS from personal experience — with Louis DeJoy, a man with no USPS experience at all. DeJoy is a major donor to the Trump campaign; over the last four years he and his wife have contributed more than US$2 million to the Trump campaign and other Republican causes. Trump is also considering DeJoy’s wife to be Ambassador to Canada. In her financial disclosure statement, she noted she and her husband own “between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors.”

Delivering mail in a damn boat on a damn river.

That’s what we call ‘a conflict of interest’. Any harm DeJoy does to the USPS not only helps Trump, it helps DeJoy’s businesses. He was obligated to divest himself of those holdings within 30 days of his appointment. Has he? We don’t know. He’s stated “I’ve done what is necessary to ensure that I am and will remain in compliance with those obligations” but I confess I find it impossible to uncritically accept the word of any Trump appointee.

Since his appointment in June, DeJoy has 1) instituted policies that deliberately slow mail delivery, 2) discontinued the practice of carriers delivering mail by the end of the day if it results in overtime, 3) informed the states they can no longer mail ballots to voters at the bulk rate of 20 cents but must pay the First Class rate of 55 cents (nearly tripling the cost of mailing ballots), 4) reassigned or displaced thirty-three senior USPS officials who have decades of experience, disrupting the chain of command, 5) instituted a hiring freeze, and 6) encouraged career USPS officials to take early retirement.

That’s just since the middle of June.

Delivering mail in a damn snowstorm.

This isn’t just Trump eroding faith in a trusted US institution, it’s deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service. It’s clearly intended to disrupt mail service as we approach an election that very likely will hinge on mail-in ballots. And Republicans in Congress will aid and abet Trump in another step toward authoritarian government.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. But Trump will.

safe to assume

This is just my opinion, but it seems to me that the Trump administration has demonstrated an uncanny ability to do the worst possible thing at the worst possible moment for the worst possible reasons. For example, changing the process for reporting Covid-19 cases during the biggest spike in Covid-19 cases.

Even if we give the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt (stop laughing, it’s just a hypothetical example) and accept that they just want to ‘streamline’ the reporting process, it’s still a phenomenally idiotic point in time to do it. I mean, the CDC has been collecting and reporting hospitalization data for decades. Everybody is familiar with the system, everybody knows what to do, everybody knows the data is unfiltered by the government and pretty reliable. Everybody knows they can use that data as a foundation for planning.

Why are all these refrigerated trucks parked outside of hospitals? It’s a mystery.

Sure, that system is being challenged by a shocking number of Covid-19 cases. We’re talking about national daily infection rates of more than 50,000 new cases a day. A day, for fuck’s sake. Tens of thousands of cases every day from thousands of health care centers scattered all over the US. The fact that the CDC’s system is handling and publicly reporting all that data shows how stable and robust it is.

But the Trump administration has decided to route that data through a private corporation. A private corporation run by a Trump supporter. A Trump supporter and long-time GOP donor who got the US$10.2 million contract through a no-bid process. A contract that requires health care centers to learn an unfamiliar protocol that includes several additional types of data, some of which isn’t usually collected by some state health agencies. The phrase ‘recipe for disaster’ comes to mind.

The worst possible decision at the worst possible time for the worst possible reasons. Well, I’m assuming the worst possible reasons. It’s safe to assume the Trump administration is acting out of the worst possible reasons, because that so often turns out to be the case. It’s theoretically possible somebody in the administration truly and sincerely believes the shift in data collection is being done to make the process more transparent and more simple. But there are people in the Trump administration who truly and sincerely believe prayer is an effective tool in the fight against gun violence. And teen pregnancy. And climate change. And, I don’t know, forest fires. Halitosis. The outcome of football games.

This isn’t to suggest Comrade Trump is actually driving refrigerated body trucks. He doesn’t have a commercial driver’s licence.

So yeah, it’s probably safe to assume this plan to shift Covid-19 data collection from a familiar robust system used by the CDC to a new protocol created by a private company owned by a Trump supporter is designed to control what information the public gets. To turn the data into a political tool. To cook the books and make the pandemic seem somewhat less catastrophic than it is. To benefit Trump.

It’s safe to assume everything Trump does is to benefit Trump. Everything.