Friday, August 21, 2020


Worth slowing down for.

•   I have said many times, and meant it too, that I hate seeing anyone go to prison, but the Trump Gang has really tested my resolve on that and I must admit the prospect of former presidential advisor and current Nazi Steve Bannon going away gives me some pleasure. But who am I kidding, he'll never taste justice -- he'll either treat with Trump for a pardon or make a deal with the feds. But at least we have the joy of knowing that in addition to being an active and evangelical fascist Bannon is also the cheapest sort of grifter, one who exploits the weak-mindedness of rubes to swindle them out of their savings. True, the rubes in this case are Trumpkins and sufficiently racist that they threw their money at an obvious scam just because they thought it would keep dark-skinned immigrants out of the country, so I can't feel too sorry for them. Indeed, the saga would have some of the picaresque air of a con game movie like The Sting, but that we have the gargoyle Bannon instead of Newman and Redford, and instead of ending with "You're right, it's not enough -- but it's close!" we'd probably get the 14 Words.

Still it's nice to see the bastard pantsed. From my newsletter (on which regular production was paused this week for vacation -- new stories starting Monday!) I offer you a fantasia on the We Build The Wall theme I wrote back when the story was fresh in December 2018, starring Trump and co-conspirator Brian Kolfage. (If Trump's relative clarity of self-expression in that episode surprises you, bear in mind his mental deterioration over the past year and a half has been swift and considerable.) And here's one of my more recent Bannon episodes.

•   I see Postmaster General DeJoy is taking the same who's-gonna-stop-me hard line as other Trump goons hauled before Congress, refusing to restore the mail-sorting machines he's trashed and claiming the mail slowdown in recent weeks has nothing to do with his boss' confessed intention to fuck up vote-by-mail and will be resolved in time for the election.

No one believes any of this, though conservatives have to pretend to. One popular take has been that the Post Office problems don't actually exist and Democrats are pretending they do to make The Leader look dishonest. It's a "wildly irresponsible and baseless conspiracy theory," says Rep. James Comer (R.-Ky.) at Fox News; Tucker Carlson claims the Democrats are trying to "make America even more paranoid and fearful than it already is" and are in fact the real vote-stealers, in furtherance of which stupid point he hauls out the usual discredited charges that voting by mail is easy to rig.

This routine probably only works on rightwing true believers, since many of us have experienced the slowdowns first-hand and DeJoy more or less admitted they've been happening, so the brethren will probably switch over to a deeper, more old-fashioned propaganda cut: That public services are trad, Dad, and privatized mail is where it's at.

This is the tack taken in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial on the subject that blames "Congress," which in their 80s-vintage interpretation means tax-and-spend Democrats coddling inefficient government services: The PO is "a Blockbuster service in a Netflix world" and "overall mail volume peaked in 2006" -- all the cool kids use email! (Yes, I know about the 2007 pension law that wrecked USPS' finances -- WSJ obviously hopes other readers don't.)

"A misalignment like this wouldn’t last in private business," says WSJ, "but the Postal Service answers to politicians." Also, what to bleeding hearts looks like DeJoy's conflict of interest (a $30 million stake in USPS contractor XPO Logistics) is to WSJ a Horatio Alger story: "Mr. DeJoy built a trucking company from 10 employees in 1983 to almost 7,000 in 2014," etc.

At the Wall Street Journal it's still 1984; everybody's wearing suspenders and smoking Macanudos and thinks Big Government should make way for awesome privatization -- or, if that's too scary for you (for the moment), more Reagan-era, hostile-takeover, cut-to-the-bone "reform" that heretofore and everywhere else has meant worse service for us peons and bigger dividends for the 1%, but this time for sure free-market pixie dust will do the trick: isn’t credible to say the USPS merely needs pandemic relief. What it requires is reform. Privatization can’t pass Congress, so ignore that boogeyman. But lawmakers could give the USPS more freedom to act like a business: to raise prices if warranted; to close lonely, desolate post offices; to stop Saturday mail -- or Wednesday mail if it comes to that.
Or, if you're out on a rural route, maybe you'll get mail every couple of weeks -- it'll be your own fault for being too inefficient to make a profit on. If Biden's speech didn't convince you these guys need to be voted out of the known universe at the very least, think on that.

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