Ugh. I have a Zoom seminar on legal ethics to give today, which means dry runs, tech checks, and anxiety. I’ve concluded that I detest Zoom programs. You can’t read your audience, and for all I know they are doing crossword puzzles. Managing notes is awkward, graphics don’t look very good, and neither do I.
I intend to be pantless as my silent protest against the whole fiasco.
Since I have no idea how and when posts will be emanating from 2707 Westminster Place, I’m opening up another Open Forum. As always, keep your commentary on topic (ethics and leadership), civil, witty, and substantive.
Now I’m going to review my notes…
34 thoughts on “Open Forum On Zoom Day!”
Any comments about issues in the U.S. Postal Service.
All we’re getting from the political left is propaganda that’s filled with sedition and subversion.
The mindset of the 21st century political left trying to get rid of President Trump is equivalent to a person using the same atomic bomb (propaganda equivalent) that destroyed Nagasaki, Japan to rid their home (United States equivalent) of a single spider (President Trump). I bet a good political cartoonist could create an image from that description.
I think that the left’s insistence of Mail-In balloting is one of the more obvious attempts at election fraud they’ve attempted yet… Their position flies in the face of every data point on the topic. That said, gutting the USPS with the hopes of cutting of Mail-In balloting is breaking your nose to spite your face, and that’s absolutely what Trump is doing.
I’m not convinced that’s what Trump is doing. I doubt Trump has any real hand in this. The USPS is a failed service, years behind private competitors, has been haemorrhaging money for decades, the last to innovate, and has always been relatively low in on time delivery. If the USPS was a private business, it would have failed decades ago. What we’re seeing now is the culmination of decades of bad practices, that only matter to people now that someone is in the White House that they despise.
I agree. The postal service was a wreck before Trump was elected, and trying to fix it is throwing good money after bad. We require clients to send checks via OPS or FedEx, because so many checks have been lost in the mail or delayed. Most days we get junk mail and nothing else. We receive other people’s mail routinely…a few weeks ago we got one that was supposed to be delivered to Spokane.
I mean, your mileage may vary. I’ve always assumed that USPS is similar to Canada Post, but heck, it might be worse.
But Trump Funded the USPS in 2017, 2018, and 2019. There are a million ways the Federal Government blows taxpayer funds in AMAZINGLY boneheaded ways.
Picking this issue, at this time, while making those statements, is political malpractice.
On the viability of the USPS… I think it’s important to look at the USPS like a cost center as opposed to a revenue generator, because while there were times when the USPS made money, and there were times when it was much more important than it is now. There is still a benefit to society in having a cheap courier service operating in every district.
As to what Trump is doing… It’s possible that these cuts were pre-planned, and it’s probable that he was using the point to leverage a budget deal, but Trump said the quiet part out loud again;
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
Look, I’ll admit that what he said doesn’t preclude the most favorable interpretation on the situation for Trump, I’ll even go so far as to say that I agree with the premise: Mail in voting is a disaster no matter where it’s tried. But he’s, again, put it in the worst possible terms for himself and quite frankly, I don’t believe this was a coincidence.
But let’s suspend disbelief! Let’s even say that it was a coincidence, and it all only came to a head in Trump’s fourth year, right in time for the election and right in the middle of a heated debate on mail in voting.
He could…. Y’know…. Not.
Nothing is holding a gun to Trump’s head and forcing him to look at that issue at this time. Even if you want to say that the USPS was always in his cross-hairs, and it really is just a frabjous coinkydink that all these stars are lining up, why the everloving hell would you sign your campaign up for those headlines in an election year?! It’s incompetent!
There is no angle where this makes Trump look good to people other than the Pro-Trump deranged.
Interesting take on the issue. I get that trucks hauling off sad looking and abandoned mail boxes is not good optics, especially in an election year, along with canned news footage of harried, unloved, unwanted, and unappreciated Postal workers lamenting over their mail sorters breaking down. But, as a thought experiment, aren’t voter rolls and voting procedures governed by the states? It’s not as though the USPS is going to be defunded . . . oh, wait, I thought that the Left liked defunding things . . . but who drops mail in mail cans on the street corners, anyway? The way the media frames this issue is that removal of mail cans from street corners represents a democracy-crisis undermining the entire election process. When did the Left decide it likes the USPS? Could it be that the USPS hamstrings any budgeting negotiations because the unions constantly demand more and more concessions, rendering the entire system unworkable and unmanageable?
“who drops mail in mail cans on the street corners, anyway?”
People in challenged neighborhoods don’t feel safe putting their mail out in personal mailboxes, especially if they live in apartment buildings where many places just require you leave your outgoing mail sitting out where anyone can see it. Leaving envelopes out for the postman to pick up invites neighbors or strangers up to no good to grab them and swipe cash out of birthday cards or the check from a bill that not only leaves the bill unpaid, but also gives the thief the customer’s banking information on top of the customer’s name and address. The blue mailboxes, while not free from damage or theft themselves, are generally seen as more secure than a personal box at home.
Removing the boxes a few short months before the election without explanation ahead of time is very bad optics and plays into the hands of Democrats who want to push the narrative that the President is trying to rig the election and is doing so by removing one option for the marginalized voters of this country to mail in their ballots. That many of those marginalized voters are going to be minorities in the black and Latina communities makes the optics much worse.
Of course, the President’s opponents will go to great lengths to accuse him of many things that are unlikely, but I am concerned that no one at USPS apparently thought about the timing of this action and how it looks. Or…maybe they did. Maybe someone high up just decided to do this now to make it look as awkward as possible for the President and Trump really does have no idea what’s going on.
“But, as a thought experiment, aren’t voter rolls and voting procedures governed by the states?”
I’m not sure I follow…. Is the idea that because USPS is a federal service, the states should not use it in their election processes? Or is the idea that the federal government should not be beholden to the State’s need for USPS in making decisions?
Because regardless of the argument, it’s bad. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution gives congress the power to assign infrastructure to the postal service, and designate routes. The reason I’m bringing this up is because of the interpretation around the article… See, congress can take it upon itself to restrict certain types of mail traffic, historically this has applied and stuck to items like items pertaining to mail fraud. Congress also tried to limit the mailing of pornography, mail lottery, and certain political materials, but SCOTUS took the case and asserted that the first amendment covered mailable items, and that the state had to provide a legitimate interest reason to restrict mail.
Whether you like USPS or not is irrelevant. Whether it makes money or not is irrelevant. Why the Democrats want to fund it, or by how much, is irrelevant. The United States of America has a constitutionally protected power to provide a non-discriminatory mail service, until such a point where congress passes legislation otherwise.
The correct take on this would be to point out how abysmally bad the idea of mail-in balloting is, because it is, not to give up on the argument and try to destroy a constitutionally protected institution.
Well, that same clause of the Constitution also grants Congress the authority to issue Letters of Marque – a concept as obsolete as the Post Office as it’s
In answer to the larger question, Article One, Section Four of the Constitution states:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
Congress HAS made laws changing the regulations, but has only done so on a limited scale – such as eliminating poll taxes. Given the general loudmouthery and assholery surrounding the vote-by-mail issue, I can only assume that Dems realized any attempt to change laws to require vote-by-mail was examined and recognized as a complete non-starter, immediately because it would never get past the Senate, let alone Trump’s desk – but also in recognition that it stood a good chance of getting shot down by the courts.
Instead, this whole thing nicely fits the Orange Man Bad narrative.
I don’t think the Democrat’s plan is to pass legislation requiring mail in balloting, I think they want to make sure the possibility exists, and then prescribe mail-in balloting for the states they control, with a healthy dose of “look at the heartless Republicans making people in-person vote” for the states they don’t.
The thing is, they can absolutely continue with their plan with or without Trump, and with or without funding. If USPS cannot handle the volume, even with four month’s notice that it’s coming, then that’s absolutely a federal failure. They get their talking point one way or the other. Again… This is political malpractice, Trump should fund the post office, and then beat the Democrats over the head with how literally every nation that had mail in voting drastically peeled it back after the first absolute fustercluck election they held that used it.
This is Trump’s line:
“Democrats, they love saying “Why don’t we do it like Canada?” “Why don’t we do it like European Countries?” Well, neither Canada nor European countries have mail in voting, because they tried it and it failed spectacularly! It’s sad, really. If the Democrats want a fraudulent election, they can do this, our postal service will handle it, our postal service is the best, we have great people working for us, but it doesn’t matter how great the people are when the system is broken, and mail in voting is broken.”
Agreed. As reread my comment, I realized that it was fairly incoherent and mostly dumb. I blame my dog, Remington. He was not cooperative on this morning’s walk and there was mud all over the place. All in all, it was a bad walk and set the tone for an equally awful day.
Between 2011 and 2016 200,000 mailboxes were moved. Those getting the vapors over logistical decisions on mailbox placement are using a normal activity and concocting an unfounded conspiracy theory. Lest we not forget that states run elections. Why does the federal government have to pay for a choice pushed by the party that believes it can make political hay from demanding it? Nothing stops people from requesting an absentee ballot. I intend to vote in person as I did in the primary. Voting in person is no more dangerous than going to WalMart.
Back to the mail: All boxes are subject to be moved if they get an average of only 25 pieces each day. If poor people are sending lots of mail then they will get more boxes. If they don’t send mail then they can hand their mail to a postal employee. I am getting tired of the argument that poor people have no choices other than the one that makes them do something else. If a low income person works, take the ballot and put it in with the business mail or in the outgoing slot. If they don’t work then wait for the carrier and give it directly to them. Failing this and if they are so concerned about being disnfranchised they can get off their ass and walk or take a bus to a post office.
Virtually every business is pushing paperless billing which reduces demand for postal services. If bill payers have auto debit or pay online as we do postal demand falls again.
Technology has put a big bite in first class postal revenues. We subsidize the USPS to the tune of 18 billion which is why they want the parcel business; 3rd and 4th class business just wont make it.
Given that the postal workers union endorsed Biden should they have any role in distributing or collecting universal ballots that were not specifically requested by a voter and have no paper trail?
Chris Marschner wrote:
Between 2011 and 2016 200,000 mailboxes were moved. Those getting the vapors over logistical decisions on mailbox placement are using a normal activity and concocting an unfounded conspiracy theory.
Wouldn’t that be nice if true? But it’s not. They’re not concocting an unfounded conspiracy theory – they’re falling for a PR campaign deliberately, cynically and brilliantly intended to give them the vapors over mailbox placement.
I’m a PR guy by trade. I have grudging professional respect for the skills of those who concocted this one, just as I presume Jack has grudging professional respect for a defense attorney who concocts a winning argument that lets a stone cold killer walk.
There’s a difference, though. Defense attorneys, even when successfully defending a killer, help ensure that the rest of us are protected (somewhat, unless your name is Carter Page or Michael Flynn) from the abuse of government.
My profession gets, nor deserves, no such grudging nods. There are some real scumbags in it. They’re talented, but they’re scumbags.
The 200,000 mail box figure was sourced through postal officials on the Larry O Connor show on WMAL. He was explaining that every year tens of thousands of boxes are discontinued, rehabilitated or moved. The visual image of postal trucks carrying away mailboxes could be seen on any given day for the last twenty years. As for the conspiracy theory, all effective conspiracy theories are predicated on PR constructed to create a narrative. Some are better than others. The people falling for it are also the ones spreading the PR that Trump is eliminating mailboxes to slow down the mail to suppress the vote.
Here is one fact that has not been widely reported: When the idea that Trump was eliminating mail boxes in minority communities was being floated the Post Master General suspended all logistics management moves of drop boxes.
Excellent comment. You have a terrific knack of putting things clearly and concisely. Nicely done.
And here is the unspoken legitimate aim of mail-in ballots: providing a safe means for those too at risk to go to the market with a chance to safely vote. The risk of a tainted election has to be balanced against the safety of those exercising their right to vote.
Democrats are abusing the situation to push permanent mail-in voting, rather than advocating to a one-time extension of absentee ballot in extremis. This is the latest symptom of a sick system that funds the government on continuing resolutions and infinite raises of the so-called debt ceiling; the latest symptom of a system that protects various refugee groups (and “Dreamers”) “temporarily” from deportation for an indefinite period. Democrats are also abusing the system by demanding that they get first class mail at a steep discount, with the federal government picking up the tab for their permanent expansion.
Their goal is to make so much noise people don’t know or care what is going on, just so long as it looks vaguely like Trump’s fault.
“And here is the unspoken legitimate aim of mail-in ballots: providing a safe means for those too at risk to go to the market with a chance to safely vote. The risk of a tainted election has to be balanced against the safety of those exercising their right to vote.”
First off, I agree that putting the most at risk people is harms way to vote is wrong. However, to assume that we must provide every person on the voter rolls – irrespective of whether they are alive or dead, or still reside where it says is irresponsible in both economic terms and vote security. Every single ballot cast that is illegitimate is another legitimate vote that is suppressed.
Can every state guarantee that their voter rolls are 100% accurate and complete? What happens to the ballots that are mailed to an old address? How will states ensure that unscrupulous recipients of ballots mailed to people who are now dead or have moved will not vote multiple times? Is their a means to determine if I move from one state to another and register to vote there to automatically remove my name from the rolls of the state of my former domicile?
Absentee ballots are the appropriate means for those most at risk. One must affirmatively request such a ballot and thus we know who is to receive that ballot. Any decision to expand absentee ballots would be up to the states and not the Federal government. Further, if the state supports a general universal mail in ballot then why would oppose a limited expansion of absentee ballot use? Could it be because absentee ballots have an actual paper trail .
Why is promoting the use of in person voting and expanded absentee (which would not overly tax the USPS) considered an attempt to suppress the vote but advocacy of a plan spend billions to mail millions of ballots out to names on lists that have not been scrubbed of errors considered to be promoting universal suffrage?
Well, Trump’s comment indicates he’s willing to make a deal. The man behind the Art of the Deal willing to make a deal. Shocking. Without any media spin, I’d say his comment means that if the parties can’t come to a compromise, they can’t get what they want. You know, compromise, that thing that the people in government did every day until Jan 2017.
As for why the USPS specifically, well, I’d say nobody gave a damn about what happened to that service until it was blown all out of proportion in the first Wuhan Virus bill. What did Pelosi want for the USPS? $50 million?
Nobody is holding a gun to the Democrats’ heads, forcing them to dump loads of cash into a dying service just so they can say they’re doing something about mail in voting. Nobody’s holding a gun to their head to push so hard for universal mail in voting in the first place. The statements of nearly every politician about the Wuhan Virus is contradictory. Are masks safe enough for people to go out and do normal things? Then why aren’t they safe enough for in person voting? Are masks not good enough for in person voting? Then why are they good enough to have state governors mandate them and then threaten to lock everything down again if people don’t follow the mask mandate?
I actually created a post on this topic earlier today but for some reason, WordPress said it couldn’t be posted.
This is all a large and deeply cynical PR campaign – and if I were to guess, it got started by one of the two largest postal workers’ unions and took off from there. One of the things Postal Service management is trying to do is to re-structure work hours. Byron York has a good explanation of it in today’s Washington Examiner – but the upshot is this: under existing work rules carriers sort mail and re-arrange sock drawers until the afternoon delivery to the station arrives; they then sort and do their routes. This virtually guarantees overtime accrued by the route drivers. The new policy involves having the route drivers deliver in the morning, then return to the office to prep the afternoon arrivals for the next morning. They clock out on schedule.
They no like that.
There are plenty of images floating round on social media of collection boxes being picked up or stacked up (some of which are of dubious provenance). But in fact, the Postal Service has been removing inactive or under-active boxes since the Obama administration and prior to that; realistically, most people don’t NEED these boxes (we can put outgoing mail in our own boxes and the carriers will pick them up), and if we use a post office box… well, we’re at the post office!!
Even if the Postal Service WASN’T seriously in the red, it makes no sense to have collection boxes in places where you might have an average of 40 pieces of mail (stamped at $0.55 each) per day, with two pickup times. By the time labor and vehicle operating expenses are figured in, there’s no credible argument to be made for spending $30 or $40/day for $22.00 worth of revenue – and that’s before we get to the station, then the sorting facility, and all the stuff that happens on the delivery end. It’s nuckingfutz to think that it does.
Try to explain this to the Trump Deranged, however, and you’ll get all sorts of stuff like “Yeah? Well, it SHOULD be subsidized!” and “This is all because Trump is a poopy head!”
Take me at my word on that last part. I have the experience.
Agreed. This is Big Mail at its finest. The unions are the ones causing this grief. Anecdotal evidence to support the stupidity of the USPS management and the strength of the unions:
I worked at a law firm located in the Hunter’s Creek section of Houston (which is an unincorporated town inside the city of Houston). Our office was located on I-10 West, just outside the 610 Loop. Well, the mail carrier fellow would come into our office at around 11:00 am, drop off our mail, and proceed to stay in our office for anywhere from 2 to 3 hours – usually talking to the paralegals about all kinds of cool stuff (e.g., lunch, the latest movie, their weekends, etc.). I, being mine ownself and asking the questions that should not be asked, asked him one day why he did that. His response was brilliant.
He said that the USPS had measured the route and agreed that his route took 8 hours to complete. He, being a bright guy, looked at the route and realized that the most efficient way to deliver the mail, was to start at the end of the route and work backwards. It took him between 4 and 5 hours to complete the route and his customers were overjoyed. He did a great job, everything was correct (because he would actually look at letters and could figure out that letter X should be delivered to Customer Y and not Z). He was bright, always cheerful, engaging, and gave his customers suggestions to make their mail experiences more efficient. So, he would go back to the mail center well ahead of time. At first, his managers were impressed.
Then, things took a turn for the nasty: He was making the other carriers look bad because they were doing similar or smaller routes in more time and usually with overtime. They began to resent him because the managers wondered why the other carriers were taking so long. “Customers” would complain that he was late or delivered the wrong mail, so managers began to suspect that he was not doing his job properly. His packages started getting mixed up and the sorting machines kept “malfunctioning” requiring expert machinists’ expertise to fix the stupid plug that kept falling out of the wall socket. The carriers were not allowed plug it back in because the technicians were required to do that, usually at great expense. After a while, our carrier guy just stopped completing his route ahead of schedule. Our office was his last stop so he would just spend some time getting to know his customers, which usually required face-to-face meetings for the necessary amount of time so that he would arrive at the mail center when he was supposed to. Eventually, the “errors” corrected themselves and everyone lived inefficiently after.
jvb wrote, “Then, things took a turn for the nasty: He was making the other carriers look bad because they were doing similar or smaller routes in more time and usually with overtime. They began to resent him because the managers wondered why the other carriers were taking so long. “Customers” would complain that he was late or delivered the wrong mail, so managers began to suspect that he was not doing his job properly. “
I ran into a very similar situation with steamfitters union coworkers at a job a long, long time ago. It got so bad that I left the job and took another job in another shop, another steamfitter union shop, and ran into the exact same thing thins time I actually caught a coworker going back on one of my completed jobs and he intentionally uncompleted it. When I confronted him, on the spot, the reply I got was either to leave or this will continue to happen at all the other local steamfitter union shops until I was unemployable. The word was out throughout the union that I was going to work at my pace even if it made everyone else in the union look bad. I got the fuck out of that screwed up intimidation filled union and got a non-union job that actually payed me better because of my ability to perform faster than others.
I never worked as a member of a union from that moment on.
I had other experiences working as a non-union steamfitter being hired by hired for a contracted jobs where I had to work with or around the union people in the facilities and the things I saw were outrageous. For example; at one job a commercial grade Groen food steamer at a University in Illinois needed some regular maintenance tasks performed and the unionized shop employees couldn’t efficiently do the job because it would take the following union employees, a general laborer, a steamfitter, an electrician, maybe a plumber on hand, and an engineering supervisor to complete the tasks required. They hired me, an authorized Groen warranty provider, to drive 2½ hours from Wisconsin to do the work and 2½ hours back, they paid for drive time, my labor time and mileage to get the job done, the bill was ridiculously expensive for this kind of job but they couldn’t have done it cheaper. Talk about predefined limitations controlling the employees abilities, this was absolutely absurd!
A long time ago not too long after after High School someone I knew had a 3rd shift union job in an area plant and he told me I should apply there too. My understanding is that his job was to completely clean a specific area of the plant twice during his eight hour shift. He would go in at he beginning of his shift get everything cleaned as efficiently as he could and then go to a nice quiet room where there was a cot set up and he would sleep the rest of his shift until he needed to get up and clean again before his shift was over. Now I really can’t say for sure that what he told me was fact or bull shit but experience has told me that there’s almost always some truth to claims such as his. I had a different kind of work ethic and I couldn’t work like that so I never applied.
When talking about unions, especially public sector unions, this story always pops into my head…
Unions inspire the same kind of “drive” towards success, it seems that they drive everyone abilities down to the lowest common denominator.
Why does the Post Office need a budget increase to handle added mail? The state governments should pony up the fees to mail ballots as they run the election process in their states.?
After much consideration of articles like this and no coherent thread of information from the American Left, I can all but assume that when I see some people tee up this issue as a “Conspiracy Theory”, that they are correct. Humble makes a good point below about it being “incompetent” for Trump to allow these types of headlines in an election year, but I can believe that “incompetent” is a good sign. It means he lacks detailed control and is letting the people in these positions do what is necessary to bring real change. Someone who would put off making changes and making things better because of “political optics” is an ineffective leader, and someone who is too involved in micromanagement.
A watchdog group made these recommendations before the current leadership came in. The USPS is $50B behind in funding pension obligations. It’s only solvent until 2021 at this point. Yes, change is happening, but no it’s not because Trump is a mastermind of it all. It’s because he trusts everyone to do their job.
Well, unfortunately that article is behind their pay wall.
I ship out a lot of books (especially this year) and I have not seen deliveries slowing down. They seem to be meeting their delivery guidelines. Of course, one answer is simply to vote in person, but the Democrats have been disparaging that option for many years.
Regardless of whether the Post Office makes or loses money, I think it is something essential to the good of the country, just as much as the military or other core services. The Post Office knits together everyone, from coast to coast, even those in flyover country who live far from anywhere. That mandate means it’s not likely to be a money maker, but I believe it is an essential government service — which is why it is specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Tweet from Scott Adams today:
He’s absolutely right. What the Democrats and their media are doing is obviously planned and coordinated. The phony “Trump’s war on the Postal Service” stories are part of it.
There’s no question. Regardless of what happens with the USPS or mail-in ballots, though, a Trump win will be declared illegitimate due to some vague accusation of one shenanigan after another. It will be framed as “See, we told you Trump would cheat so he wouldn’t have to leave office!” and the Second Term Coup Attempts begin anew.
And now for something completely different.
EA commentators, BUY MY BOOK!
I’ve published a collection of my short stories. It’s available as a handsome paperback as well as a Kindlebook. I’ve had some good reviews from readers including this one posted on the Amazon sales site:
Reading Bill’s book was pure pleasure. He has incredible insight into the absurdity of people’s relations in families and society in daily life. I had many belly laugh moments although many situations were not amusing. Bill’s use of the English language is brilliant. I highly recommend it!
Exposition is really not my forte. I’ll never even sniff a Comment of the Day here. I’m more suited to fiction. “Anecdotal evidence is the best evidence.”
Thanks and cheers.
Yikes, I had no idea that would pop up! Sorry. But since it did, the artwork on the cover and inside the book is all by Arizona’s most important oil painter, Phillip C. Curtis. A surrealist with a great sense of humor and of Arizona’s culture and landscape.
Well, now. You are Paperback Writer! Did it take you years to write? Is it based on a novel by a man named Lear?
Yes, John. It has taken a long time to write. Well over ten years. Just proof reading it three times as it went into print was debilitating, and I’m sure there are still typos. I probably should have hired a professional proof reader. But it was worth the effort, I think. Something I’ve wanted to do since ninth grade English and reading short stories and thinking, “Hey! I could do this!” Writing’s a powerful drug. And no hangover. I’d love to hear what you, and anyone else here, think of the stories.
I am going to cease using, and regarding as relevant, the term “nation of assholes.”
I could explain why, but I gotta sleep.
Anyone remember this?
Click to access Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
By this logic, Trump saved over 1,8 milliion lives!