You may not be able to tell, but I start a lot of these blog posts thinking, “Well, this is a pretty narrow, confined topic; this oughta be a short one.“
10,000 words later, the Random Vitriol Generator is still running without human supervision while I have retreated to the couch to eat peanut butter out of the jar with a butterknife while watching the Premier League. (#YNWA.)
(Hey, you get through the pandemic your way, I’ll get through it mine, OK?)
But this one truly promises to be short, because it couldn’t be simpler:
What does it say when the government openly tries to hobble your ability to vote?
I think we all know.
It means they’re scared shitless that they are gonna lose, and are therefore pulling out all the proverbial stops to avoid a fair election.
It goes without saying that the Grand Old Party has been engaged in a relentless, decades-long campaign to suppress the vote and disenfranchise millions of Americans in order to achieve its deeply desired goal of permanent, countermajoritarian, one-party rule. This campaign, Whitman-like, contains multitudes: skewing the Census, taking gerrymandering to a new extreme, undermining Democratic governors, spreading the vile lie of voter fraud, stumping for racist “voter ID” laws, plus of course the usual dirty money, disinformation, and—oh yeah—willingness to conspire with hostile foreign powers.
But rarely has there been a more blatant example of that contempt for democracy and hamhanded willingness to subvert it than what Trump did last week with the US Postal Service.
DELIVER THE LETTER, THE SOONER THE BETTER
Thanks to the pandemic, voting-by-mail will be critical in November. Therefore Trump— knowing that he is as popular as a cold sore at an orgy—has been savagely attacking the very idea for months in order to avoid a fair reckoning on reign. Even as he is trying his hardest to rig the election in his favor, he is shrieking that it’s rigged against him and that mail-in voting is a scam (even though he himself has often voted by mail), all by way of laying the groundwork to delegitimize the vote if he loses……which is likely unless the Russians really ratfuck this thing in a way that makes 2016 look like child’s play.
OK, I get that. It’s un-American as humanly possible, but I get it.
But how brazen, shameless, and just plain evil is it to try to sabotage the US Postal Service itself?
Trump has been starving the USPS of cash, trying to bust the postal union, and in April threatened to withhold future pandemic relief funding from it unless it raised its prices sharply. (Trump suggested a factor of four of five.) And it’s been working: the mail service is suffering severe problems, including slowed delivery and financial losses—and they are not all caused by the coronavirus. Some are very much manmade and deliberate.
It’s unconscionable of course, but it’s the same rapacious, wannabe mobster tactics that Trump has used throughout his career as a disreputable businessman and con artist.
And now, this:
In what’s being called another Friday Night Massacre, last week the new Postmaster General—a prominent Trump donor named Louis DeJoy—removed 23 USPS executives including, Slate reports, “some who had been at the Postal Service for decades. Among the targets of the reorganization were the two top executives who oversee daily operations.” He also instituted a hiring freeze for senior leadership.
No surprise, the move consolidates DeJoy’s power and gives him more personal control over the actions of the agency. (Trump installed him in that position only three months ago, presumably to do precisely this kind of dirty work.)
Slate also reports that the purge came mere days after Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and DeJoy had a “heated” closed-door meeting (Schumer’s word). Democrats have called from the USPS inspector general to investigate…..unless Trump fires them first, as he has done with five other Cabinet level IGs in recent weeks.
This is banana republic stuff at its most blatant.
NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLOOM OF NIGHT
Postal carriers come in for a lot of ridicule in American pop culture, from Cliff Clavin to the mononymic Newman. (Newman!) It’s all in good fun and hope they take no offense. For one of the great lessons of the pandemic is that letter carriers are among the most essential of essential workers. As most of us had the luxury of hunkering down in our homes (yes, it’s a luxury, whatever its hardships), postal workers were among those on the front lines who have had to risk their lives day in and day out to keep this country functioning. They are doing it still even as I write this. We owe them an enormous debt. Now, as a reward, they and the organization for whom they work are being attacked and undermined by the very man who is supposed to be the leader of our nation.
The Postal Service’s unofficial motto, famously, is, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Maybe not. But they can damn sure by stayed by the malevolent doings of a piece of shit quisling president whose rapaciousness knows no bottom.
(The words, by the by—chiseled over the entrance to the main post office on 8th Avenue at 33rd Street in New York City—are from The Persian Wars by Herodotus, in tribute to the Persians’ horse-mounted couriers.)
So who is this Louis DeJoy dude anyway? Who did Trump choose to make Postmaster General and put in charge of this august organization during these trying times?
DeJoy is the first postmaster general in decades who did not rise through the ranks of the USPS but is a purely political appointee. He and his wife, Aldona Wos, formerly the US Ambassador to Estonia under George W. Bush, have given more than $2 million to the Trump campaign. (Trump has now nominated her to be the new US Ambassador to Canada.) DeJoy, not coincidentally, was also head of fundraising for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte before it was moved to Jacksonville and then canceled altogether.
Oh, and also, the Wos-DeJoys have between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in USPS competitors or contractors, like UPS and trucking company J.B. Hunt.
I’m shocked, shocked.
IT’S WAFER THIN
The evisceration of the Post Office is just the latest sordid episode in the debasement of the American electoral process. Last week also brought confirmation by the US Intelligence Community of what we have long known, that multiple foreign players are trying to meddle in the upcoming presidential election. Chief among them of course is Russia, which is working to keep Trump in office with the eager collaboration of the GOP, while China is said to favor Biden if only because it so loathes Don.
You know that feeling when you’re a functionally incompetent country that lets other nations compete to decide who your leader will be?
Personally, I’m rooting for China to be our new rulers. It’s time for a change.
Of course, the whole report is a bit of a farce, as the references to China and others (like Iran) are only meant to mollify Trump over the Russian allegations. The extent of Chinese electoral interference—as far as has been declassified—is simple propaganda, not aggressive, state-of-war ratfucking on the Russian level. But Trump’s fragile ego must always be coddled, so the truth cannot be spoken by his lieutenants, even in the service of the common good.
(Dear China: I know you’re a hateful autocracy in your own right, but can you please come rescue us from Trump, because we’re a bunch of whining infants who can’t get our own act together to do it, even in the midst of an existential crisis. Thx.)
Similarly, news also leaked out of the State Department last week that in mid-July someone in the federal government—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—finally got around to clearing his throat and complaining to the Kremlin about its program to, you know, um, pay the Taliban bounties on the heads of American GIs in Afghanistan. (We frown on that.)
Why did it take so long for that complaint to be lodged, and even longer for it to be made public?
Because Pompeo knew it would enrage Trump.
In the words of Python’s Mr. Creosote: “Better get a bucket. I’m gonna throw up.”
The kind of government that feels it’s necessary to erect a Potemkin village around the erratic ruler is not one that can be counted on conduct a fair and impartial election, so the war on the Post Office ought not to surprise us. But it is bloodboiling nonetheless, and ought to be a clear sign to any sentient American about who exactly has our best interests at heart. and who does not.
So, America, let me ask you: When the leaders of a given political party makes it abundantly clear that they don’t want you to vote, what does that say?
It says they don’t have a viable platform that appeals to the electorate.
It says they don’t believe in democracy.
It says they have not even an iota of respect for you as a citizen.
It says they think you’re a dumbass sucker.
It ought to be abundantly clear by now that Trump is openly afraid of the will of the American people.
As Jamelle Bouie writes, not only doesn’t Trump have the most votes, he doesn’t even want them. That would require policies that genuinely do good for the public, and therefore generate appeal.
Trump, him not so good at that. Trump, him much better at sowing divisiveness and making us worse as a people.
As Bouie writes:
President Trump and his allies embraced this plainly anti-democratic feature of our political system to liberate themselves from majoritarian politics and coalition building. It’s not just that they can win with a plurality, but that they intend to, with no interest in persuading the majority of American voters and no concern for the consequences of that choice.
That is an exceptionally dangerous state of affairs for a putative democracy.
The debilitating effects of the Electoral College have long been considered a bug by most reasonable people, but to Team Trump they’re a feature. A counter-democratic system where he can retain power by appealing only to a very narrow slice of the electorate and fuck the rest of us, a slice he can hold in his thrall with fear, and hatemongering, and venom, and lies, is precisely the kind of system he needs.
Lucky for him, he was born in the USA.
SATIRE IS DEAD
Hey, so this has been pretty short, by my standards, after all, hasn’t it? Will wonders never cease.
Speaking of ego, In closing, let me take a quick tangent into one other bizarre story that hit late this week, which is the report that Donald Trump and his White House staff made serious inquires about adding his visage to Mount Rushmore.
There is no need for comment on this, as everything about this absolutely mind-boggling, batshit idea is self-evident. Future generations will shake their heads in bafflement that we ever made this guy our leader and didn’t immediately eject him as soon as we woke up from being blackout drunk.
Then again, we’ve got two slaveholders already carved into the mountain (that 50% of the honorees, for those of you scoring at home), not to mention the sculpture’s white supremacist connections. So maybe Trump does belong there.
Photo: Mail carrier Oscar Osorio in Los Angeles, California. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images and WBUR)
Wikipedia’s entry on the song:
“Please Mr. Postman” is a song written by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, and Robert Bateman. It is the debut single by the Marvelettes for the Tamla (Motown) label, notable as the first Motown song to reach the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. The single achieved this position in late 1961; it hit number one on the R&B chart as well. “Please Mr. Postman” became a number-one hit again in early 1975 when the Carpenters‘ cover of the song reached the top position of the Billboard Hot 100. “Please Mr. Postman” has been covered several times, including by the British rock group The Beatles in 1963.
(Did they really feel it necessary to explain that the Beatles were a “British rock group”?)