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Louis DeJoy, a Donald Trump flunky, was appointed to be Postmaster General despite him having ZERO experience at the Post Office—which is unheard of. He was, however, a major donor to the Republican Party and to Trump’s campaign. DeJoy and his wife also have serious conflicts of interest, since they both have assets between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in USPS competitors or contractors.
But really, how much damage could he do? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, quite a damn bit.
This is bad, folks. REAL BAD!
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) now has a serious backlog of letters and packages, which are piling up at distribution centers. Despite the increase in packages during the pandemic, Trump’s new Postmaster General has cut hours and banned all overtime, and is also placing fewer trucks on the road. He even changed priorities in mailing.
Postal leaders are already complaining about sabotage. The American Postal Workers Union has been sounding the alarm, with the president saying she is “terrified” of how the sabotage is going to affect the upcoming election.
Then, on Friday, Dejoy took out the machete and started cutting. Twenty-three executives with decades of experience were reassigned, and power is now consolidated around DeJoy.
Coincidentally, this year will be a record year for voting by mail, which Trump is doing everything he can to undermine. In fact, Trump admitted that mail delays will help him in his election. Of course, it’s also a census year, which Trump is also doing everything he can to undermine. We need more mail carriers, not fewer, although DeJoy has instituted both a hiring freeze and requested future buyouts—two things Democrats in Congress specifically asked him NOT to do. The results are obvious.
This may be Trump’s doing, but Republicans are completely on board. Not one Republican has spoken out against this. It’s up to Democrats to save the post office. We also have to save our democracy and our republic, so might as well just add it to the list.
In the meantime, sound the alarm. Tell your GOP representative that this is NOT cool, and that you are watching. Tell your Democratic representative to be more vocal about this. Democrats are all over the map on several issues, but we must focus! We need public hearings, and we need to demand more funding (along with safeguards that DeJoy will use it as ordered) as a top priority! This is worth a major fight. People in this country love their mail, and we need to make it clear that one party is on the side of saving it while the other side is out to destroy it!
Here’s a state-by-state scorecard on how prepared your state is for vote-by-mail. If there are drop boxes, encourage people to use those and promote their locations. If you are doing it late, please deliver your mail-in ballot in person if you have to. If you can’t, please consider using certified, priority or express mail so there is proof of delivery and when it was mailed.
Thirty-four states require that they receive ballots by Election Day—a policy which, under Trump and DeJoy, will cause millions to be thrown out. Democratic leaders need to be pushing for a law that allows votes to be counted afterwards, and force Republicans to fight them on this. In the meantime, encourage everyone you know who isn’t voting in-person NOT TO WAIT! Vote as soon as you are able.
I know it gets old that we have to fight for our very democracy on what is a seemingly day-to-day basis, but this is who Trump is, and what Trump wants. Let’s go all in, every single day, until we can finally rest—the day after November 3.
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This just happened, too: The Postal Service has informed states that they’ll need to pay first-class 55-cent postage to mail ballots to voters, rather than the normal 20-cent bulk rate. That nearly triples the per-ballot cost at a time when tens of millions more will be delivered.
If you misplaced your countdown clock, you might not have noticed that Friday was the day that Donald Trump declared he was going to sign a “full and complete healthcare plan.” So, that’s another example of promises made and … something something. However the rest of that goes. In a moment that was absolutely no surprise to anyone, Trump did not pull out the executive sharpie to either provide healthcare or reroute storms on Friday. However, the subject of healthcare did come up as Trump was enjoying the adoration, and viruses, of the assembled Bedminster crowd. Actually “crowd” is too strong a word. Even “gaggle” seems too much for the handful of very fine golfers who showed up to cheer on Trump’s declaration that he, and only he, decides who lives and dies.
But while he’s unwilling to help American workers facing an increasingly desperate situation, Trump did hand out a gift to his favorite giftee … Donald Trump. Because two weeks after Trump said he’d be signing a complete healthcare plan, he instead determined that he would be working for two more weeks on just one very special feature of that plan. “Over the next two weeks,” said Trump, “I’ll be pursuing a major executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions for all customers.” And if that sounds like something that the Affordable Care Act already does … you’re absolutely right. After two weeks, all Trump delivered was a plan to provide something that Barack Obama signed over a decade ago.
Of course, there is a reason why Trump might need to write that executive order saving pre-existing conditions. That’s because while Trump was standing on front of his golf buddies to declare he was going to wag an executive finger at insurance companies, he has Bill Barr was in court trying to take away exactly that protection. Which is, of course, exactly the plan. Trump needs to destroy Obamacare so that Trump can then gift everyone with a “complete plan” that is actually just one of several items already covered by the ACA. That is, he’ll give it to Americans who are grateful enough.
You might think that Americans would notice that Trump was offering to grace them with something that they already have, while actually working to take that very thing away. But that might be harder than it seems. For example, here’s the headline on this item from CNBC.
“Trump says he’s working on health insurance executive order on pre-existing conditions”
That same headline is in the New York Times, and in hundreds of other publications — all of them simply repeating an article from Reuters.
Seriously there are only two rules:
1. Don’t repeat a lie until you are ready to debunk that lie. “Trump says ...” is not news. News requires considering what was said and putting in context. Any publication not prepared to debunk a lie, should not repeat that lie, because it only serves to amplify the effect.
2. Don’t make the lie your headline. Even if your article is 100% devoted to debunking the lie, which this Reuters article is not, placing the lie in the headline ensures that for most of those passing by, all they get is a boost of the lie. And since Reuters compounds this by repeating the lie again in the first paragraph, it’s understandable that any reader might come away with the wrong impression.
Putting “says” or even “claims” in the headline is not enough. Not nearly enough when the rest of the headline serves the purpose of propaganda.
Donald Trump is trying to take away insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. That’s the truth. That is what Trump is actively doing, right now, in court. He is trying to blow a hole in healthcare, so he can pretend to patch it. That’s the truth of the situation. Reporting what Trump says, rather than what Trump does, is a fundamental mistake.
How bad is the 2020 hurricane season expected to be? So bad there might not be enough traditional hurricane names to go around, experts say.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s May forecast gave a 60% chance of an above-average hurricane season. That’s now up to 85% in the latest forecast, with a prediction of 19 to 25 named storms, seven to 11 of them hurricanes, with three to six becoming major hurricanes. Because what 2020 needed was a lot of people without power or clean water.
“An average year, based on 1981 to 2010 data, is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes,” the Associated Press reports. “Everything looks ready to be a pretty huge year,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told the AP.
This is the highest number of storms ever forecast, though in 2005 a forecast of 21 named storms turned into 28 of them. That isn’t expected this year. There are 21 names assigned, and if that number is exceeded, the later storms are named after characters in the Greek alphabet.
Colorado State University, which does a separate hurricane forecast, just increased its predictions to 24 named storms, with 12 of them being hurricanes and five becoming major hurricanes.
Climate change doesn’t necessarily cause more hurricanes, but it makes them more likely to be dangerous, with higher wind speeds and more precipitation.
GOP activist says hating on transgender people can boost Trump to victory. He's despicable and wrong
Right-wing activist Terry Schilling thinks he's a clever guy with a fresh idea. But Schilling, who runs the conservative "think" tank American Principles Project (APP), is about to prove that he's nothing more than a two-bit anti-trans tactician who's trying to rehash a hackneyed GOP strategy from over a decade ago.
Schilling thinks he can revive Donald Trump's reelection bid by sprinkling a bunch of transphobic hate-dust over the heads of the very suburban voters who are currently fleeing the Republican party due to Trump's grievance-driven politics. But a quick review of the last four years of GOP fails on anti-trans campaigns proves Schilling's an idiot, not to mention despicable.
In fact, Schilling's strategy began with a failure. He tried to help Trump firebrand and Kentucky governor Matt Bevin win reelection by stressing his Democratic challenger's "extreme" support for transgender rights. Instead, Bevin lost, Democrat Andy Beshear became governor, and Beshear now enjoys the support of 69% of Kentuckians for his handling of the coronavirus.
But Schilling's taking his 0-1 record and shining it up for a run at the presidential contest. In Schilling’s retelling of the defeat, his firm's six-figure investment in anti-trans messaging on transgender participation in sports “delivered nearly 13,000 new votes for Bevin." Apparently, APP commissioned some kind of post-mortem on the election—no word on who conducted it or how they came up with that figure.
“Now, donors understand that although we came up a few votes short in Kentucky, this can still work. This is persuasive,” Schilling said.
What it is, is desperate. Trump's tanking, he's got nowhere to turn because he's created such an epic mess of the pandemic that, unfortunately, keeps getting worse with no end in sight. And with the White House's failure this week to strike a relief deal with Democrats—who would have provided most of the votes in both the House and Senate—the economic pain and the suffering experienced by average American households across the country is about to get exponentially worse.
But here's the spoiler Schilling has planned, according to Politico:
Next week, APP will debut two ads in battleground Michigan that accuse former Vice President Joe Biden, who has generally used his platform to promote protections for LGBTQ youth, of endorsing “gender change treatments for minors,” including surgery and hormone therapies for transgender youth. One of the ads, featuring former drag queen Kevin Whitt, warns that children “need time” to develop a stable sense of their gender. “As a young teen, I felt I should be a woman,” Whitt says. “Seventeen years later, I felt I should be a man again. Treatments to change the gender of a minor are very dangerous and irreversible.”
Sorry, Schilling, get ready to crash and burn. The number one issue most suburban women cite to explain their disdain for Trump isn't coronavirus, it's usually his "law and order" message and his stoking of divisive racial issues in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. That's exactly the conclusion from dozens of focus groups conducted with suburban women in the battleground states of Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Just on Thursday, Republican voter Katey Morse of East Grand Rapids, Michigan, told MSNBC she thought Trump's "law and order" messaging was "ludicrous." After reluctantly voting for Trump in 2016, she can't wait vote him out of office. "We aren't suburban moms, we're not 1950s housewives anymore," she said.
What's similarly ludicrous is the idea that a voter like Morse is going to see an ad about a former drag queen and somehow think that's relevant in an election where Trump has pushed racial divisions, gassed the suburban Wall of Moms in Portland, and presided over the nation's most lethal public health calamity in a century.
In fact, just ask former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory how his embrace of the anti-trans bathroom issue worked out for him in 2016. It almost single-handedly doomed McCrory’s reelection bid on an election night when many if not most Republicans outperformed expectations and state and local GOP officials had a great night overall. But thanks to his transphobic bathroom bill that cost the state billions in canceled revenue, McCrory's campaign went into a downward spiral. He never recovered.
Similarly, in Texas, the transphobic bathroom bill played so poorly for the state’s top GOP officials that after several years of getting clobbered, they all but washed their hands of it in 2019.
Anyway, Schilling apparently has the ear of some of Trump's most deplorable confidants—Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, and Trump Jr.
Frankly, they might be just daft enough to adopt the strategy—especially since they’ve really got nothing left to run on. It will ultimately be a strategic loser, but in the meantime the ad campaign will surely heap a lot of hate and derision on an unbelievably vulnerable minority—young transgender individuals. So perfectly repugnant, it's certain to find an audience in Trump's West Wing.
On Friday evening, Donald Trump surrendered any pretense that he was actually interested in providing Americans with relief from the health threats and economic collapse triggered by his mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he declared that he was “going another way.” That other way seems to be using this moment to undermine Social Security, and making sure that cities in desperate trouble because of the expense of dealing with the crisis while facing a collapsing economy are left with nowhere to turn.
Nowhere, that is, other than begging Trump. Because after two weeks of going through the motions of holding talks with Congress, the owner of Bedminster country club has made it clear that his “other way” is to treat executive orders as dictatorial power. Rather than go through all that effort at legislation, and compromise … Trump will simply determine who gets help, and who doesn’t, with a scrawl of his sharpie. Trump is going another way from democracy.
The charade that Republicans might actually agree to something that helped Americans ended with a ridiculous whimper delivered, appropriately enough, in a Friday night address from one of Donald Trump’s golf clubhouses. Trump, surrounded by a gathering of pasty, wealthy golf buddies, declared that he wouldn’t agree to even a third of what’s actually necessary. It was the absolutely appropriate ending to a process that was never more than a smokescreen from the outset. That Trump did this at a gathering of millionaires who refused to don masks, while declaring what was supposed to be a White House announcement “a political event” was only icing on the authoritarian cake.
Three months ago, Nancy Pelosi and Democrats the House passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion aid package that would send funds directly to families, extend expanded unemployment benefits, expand the Paycheck Protection program to keep small businesses afloat through the crisis, help businesses cover the expense of protecting workers and customers from COVID-19, and provide funds to state and local governments hit hard by the need to address the emergency and declining tax revenues following the collapse of the economy. The bill is a complete package that addresses real needs of both people and communities, from giving everyone a second $1,200 check to helping schools plan for delivering online classes.
Since May, Republicans have done literally nothing. Not only has Mitch McConnell failed to bring the Heroes Act to the floor of the Senate, it took until the last week of July before Republicans even assembled something of a “plan” of their own. That plan did … none of the above. Instead, their response to an ongoing pandemic that has already killed over 160,000 Americans was to provide a list that included F-35 fighter jets and a new FBI headquarters. Those items—and a lengthy list of other items completely unconnected from the crisis at hand—was the price to took to get a bare majority of Republicans to pretend to be interested.
That’s not to say that the Republican response didn’t address their own concerns about COVID-19. Included in that Republican response were guarantees that unemployment boosts would not be extended at current levels, along with protections for businesses who fail to protect worker safety. Those two planks: Forcing workers back on the job; and making sure that corporations can’t be sued, even if workers and their family members die, is the sum total of the Republican agenda. Trump has added another item of his own: Suspending the payroll tax, an action whose entire purpose is to blow a hole in Social Security and provide Republicans to tut over that inevitable failure of these “socialist programs.”
It’s little wonder that, as The Washington Post reports, little to no progress has been made in talks over the last two weeks. Democrats are interested in helping America, and Americans, weather this crisis of Trump’s creation. Republicans, and particularly Trump, are interested in using this moment to further the cause of corporations over people, authoritarian rule over everything, and leaving people utterly dependent on handouts from the wealthy. It’s hard to find a compromise between those positions.
So, rather than distribute money to every American and assisting the places that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus, America will no proceed on a system of Trumpian largess. Trump has already demonstrated that he can spend, or refuse to spend, money as he pleases, cherry-picking funds from across the budget with the blessings of the Supreme Court. Trump has already given a preview of exactly how this will look with his offers to pick up 100% of the tab on National Guard deployments to Florida and Texas, while sending other states a bill.
Unlike the federal government, states and cities can’t print their own money. The economic collapse triggered by Donald Trump’s failed handling of the COVID-19 crisis leaves those many of those governments teetering at the point where they are unable to provide even basic services. In the middle of a healthcare crisis, governments are laying off healthcare workers and experts, because they simply lack the funds.
Democrats are negotiating to try and get Americans what they need. Trump knows that a failure to achieve agreement means he can keep people crawling over broken glass to beg for his favor. That’s not a formula likely to lead to a happy conclusion.
Voting Rights Roundup: Iowa at last becomes final state to end its total ban on voters with felonies
● Iowa: On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an executive order automatically restoring voting rights for citizens who have completed felony sentences, including parole or probation, except for those convicted of homicide offenses. As a result, Reynolds' order means that Iowa is no longer the only state in the country to ban people convicted of any felony from ever voting again (barring individual intervention by the governor), though people convicted of certain felonies are still permanently disenfranchised in Iowa and a handful of other states.
Reynolds' order comes after months of pressure by Black Lives Matter activists and after Republicans in the state Senate refused to pass a constitutional amendment making this change permanent, which Reynolds had advocated for and had cited as a reason for opposing an executive order until now. Iowa's last two Democratic governors also automatically restored voting rights until Reynolds' predecessor, fellow Republican Terry Branstad, revoked that order when he took office in 2011.
Importantly, Reynolds did not include what is effectively a poll tax requirement in her order even though she signed a law earlier this year that would have required affected citizens to pay off any court-ordered restitution to victims before regaining their rights. That law would only have come into effect if Senate Republicans had followed their House brethren in passing the constitutional amendment discussed above, but even if both chambers had approved it, they would have needed to do so again and voters would have had to pass it in a 2022 referendum before it could become law.
While Iowa is no longer the only state to impose an automatic lifetime ban on voting for any felony conviction, it will remain one of the most restrictive states. A number of other states in recent years have moved to restore voting rights to everyone not currently incarcerated, and they've generally enshrined these restorations in state law; this order, by contrast, could always be rolled back by a future governor. However, Reynolds' order for now mitigates an injustice that has had a sharply disparate impact on Black voters: A 2016 Sentencing Project analysis estimated that 1 in every 10 African Americans was disenfranchised, five times the rate of everyone else.
● 2020 Census: Confirming last week's bombshell report, the Census Bureau announced that it would conclude its counting efforts a month sooner than scheduled, ending its efforts to contact people who haven't yet filled out the census on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31. As we recently explained, rushing the end of counting efforts while the pandemic has only made the census more difficult risks creating a massive undercount of communities of color, a hallmark of Donald Trump's ongoing efforts to weaponize the census against Democratic and Latino representation in redistricting.
● Georgia: A federal district court on Friday rejected a request to block the use of Georgia's new electronic voting machines, which experts have argued pose security vulnerabilities, and instead require hand-filled paper ballots. The judge noted that the plaintiffs had filed their motion before the pandemic prompted Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to postpone the March 24 primary to June 9 and therefore were unable to include evidence regarding the machines' use in an actual election.
However, the court did allow the plaintiffs to continue pressing their claims by buttressing their case with information from the June 9 election, which the plaintiffs have indicated they will do. Last week, the same judge largely rejected the GOP's motion to dismiss this case.
While the suit proceeds over the new voting machines, the plaintiffs have also filed a motion to require paper backups for the electronic poll books that are used to verify whether a voter at a particular polling place has voted already, citing widespread failures in the June primary as a major contributor to long voting lines.
● Arkansas: Backers of an initiative to create an independent redistricting commission have announced that they have filed 50,000 more signatures to place their measure on the November ballot, on top of the 100,000 they had already submitted.
Last month, the Arkansas Supreme Court gave organizers a 30-day extension to collect more signatures while it reviews their appeal of GOP Secretary of State John Thurston's decision to reject all of their signatures as allegedly invalid. Thurston contends that signature-gatherers for this initiative, as well as a separate measure to adopt a form of instant-runoff voting, had not "passed" background checks even though the groups certified that they had "acquired" such checks.
If Thurston's decision is overturned, redistricting reformers should have a sufficient cushion to ensure that at least 89,000 of their signatures are valid statewide, as well as a number equivalent to 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in at least 15 of Arkansas' 75 counties.
A federal appeals court had recently overturned a lower court ruling allowing supporters to gather signatures without them needing to be witnessed in-person, which would let voters sign petitions at home and mail them in. Plaintiffs have not indicated whether they would appeal that decision, but their effort to move ahead with traditional signature collection indicates they do not view it as a prohibitive obstacle.
Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete summary of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to elections and voting procedures as a result of the coronavirus.
● California: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a law allowing counties to consolidate polling places, particularly by adding larger sites that are better equipped for social distancing. In exchange, counties must offer more in-person early voting days, and if officials do consolidate voting sites, they must still maintain at least one polling place for every 10,000 registered voters, and they must be open for Election Day and the three days preceding it. Counties are furthermore required to set up one drop box for mail ballots for every 15,000 registered voters in the four weeks before Election Day.
California is mailing a ballot to every registered voter for the first time this November. However, in-person voting and mail ballot-return options that don't rely on the U.S. Postal Service are critical given both the difficulties mail voting poses for some voters as well as the Trump administration's efforts to sabotage postal delivery service by creating delays.
● Georgia: Georgia Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent a repeat of the long voting lines that plagued the June primary by requiring a host of improvements, including: more polling places; emergency paper ballots in case Georgia's new electronic voting machines malfunction; paper backups of the voter registration rolls at polling places in case electronic poll books fail to work, as they did in in many cases in June; more training for poll workers; and more technicians to fix potential problems with voting equipment.
● Ohio: Ohio Democrats have filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to require officials to allow voters to apply for absentee mail ballots by fax or email instead of having to submit applications by mail. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that he thinks electronic applications are a good idea but claims that he lacks the authority to enable them without the approval of the Republican-run state legislature. LaRose is already planning to mail applications to all voters for this fall, but such a mailing will invariably fail to reach some voters.
● Pennsylvania: Voting rights advocates have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to require Pennsylvania to notify voters and give them a chance to fix problems with their mail ballots that could cause them to be rejected, such as a non-matching signature. Separately, Democrats are waging an ongoing lawsuit in state court seeking this change and several others to expand mail voting access.
● Virginia: Virginia's bipartisan state Board of Elections has unanimously agreed to add so-called "intelligent" barcodes to all mail ballot envelopes so that voters and election officials will be able to track them as they go through the mail system. Additionally, the board passed another rule saying that ballots received by noon on the third day after an election and have an illegible or missing postmark must nevertheless be counted, since the U.S. Postal Service is supposed to postmark ballots but hasn't always been doing so.
The Nobel Peace Laureate helped bring nearly three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland to an end. But reconciliation between the country’s communities remains unrealized.
Oprah Winfrey and her crew at O, the Oprah Magazine not only featured Breonna Taylor on one of the magazine’s final covers, the first ever O Magazine cover to feature someone other than the media mogul herself in 20 years of publication, they are going even further in their quest for justice for Breonna Taylor and her family.
The magazine has sponsored 26 billboards to be erected around Louisville, where Taylor worked and lived until she was shot and killed by police in her home while she slept on March 13. Police tried to enter with a “no knock” warrant and not knowing police were at the door, Taylor’s boyfriend fired a warning shot hoping to scare away intruders. Police, in turn, open-fired on the couple. The person police were looking for in the warrant not only did not live in Taylor’s home, he was in custody at another precinct across town. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend had any criminal record and Taylor has recently been employed as an EMT in the city.
The billboards direct passersby to untilfreedom.com, “an intersectional social justice organization rooted in the leadership of diverse people of color to address systemic and racial injustice.” Winfrey and her crew aren’t letting go and neither should you. Taylor’s family deserves justice in this case. Here are ways you can help, with an action petition from Daily Kos and suggestions from Until Freedom on who to call to get justice in this case.