There's a saying that goes, "When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras!" It's something told to medical students to make clear that the common diagnosis is the most likely one as opposed to a rare medical condition.
The police use it as well. When someone gets murdered, it's most likely a family member or acquaintance and not some convoluted plot that requires Lt. Columbo to solve.
It also applies to politics. There's a line from All The President's Men, when Hal Holbrook (RIP), playing Deep Throat, says to Bob Woodward (Robert Redford), "Forget the myths the media created about the White House. The truth is, these aren't very bright guys, and things got out of hand." It describes members of Congress as well.
That brings us to what I see as nothing more than Democrats laying the groundwork for blame in the case, via some miracle, Donald Trump wins reelection.
The new zebra hunt is Trump's supposed "sabotage" of the United States Postal Service as mail-in voting will play a significant role in the 2020 presidential election. Many states are fast-tracking the ability for more people to vote by mail, or to relax absentee ballot rules to avoid having to vote in person.
First of all, Trump doesn't make it easy to dismiss concerns. He continues to prove his unfitness for office with his constant whining about mail-in voting and charges of a "rigged election" and "fraud." What's ironic, is Trump is hurting himself more than he's going to hurt Joe Biden with his idiotic blathering. It's Trump supporters who will refuse to vote by mail because of what he says, thinking the fix is in. No person who supports Biden will refuse to vote after listening to the president.
But there is zero evidence of any "sabotage," and the anecdotal examples people have pointed to are getting used to further the conspiracy. Still, when you dig deeper, there's no "there" there. This may take some time, but I am going to go through the accusations and calmly explain what's happening and show it is not some concerted effort to "sabotage" the postal service.
The money - Trump is such an ignoramus that he's claiming the USPS asked for billions from Congress so they can handle the increased volume in the mail during election season. People have taken the president's lead and made the issue over money about mail-in voting. But it had nothing to do with the volume. The postal service can handle what might be 150 million mail-in ballots (and confirmed they could do so) much the same way they handle nearly 3 billion pieces of mail in the week before Christmas. They've asked for the money to avoid insolvency as they are $160 billion in debt, thanks mainly to Congress.
Yes, President Trump said he’s opposed to the emergency funding, but said he’d sign a bill if it was included (assuming some concessions by Democrats on other areas - you know…give and take?). He didn’t threaten to veto the legislation and everyone knows he won’t. It’s bluster. That hasn’t stopped Democrats and members of the press from claiming Trump wants “defund” the post office or “refuses to fund the post office.” One “reporter” at Refinery29 wrote Trump was “stripping it of funding.”
The government does not rely on the government to operate.
The 46 warning letters - The letters sent out by the USPS to 46 states warning of the possible voter disenfranchisement set the world on fire and used it as "proof" the administration was up to no good. The following Washington Post story sets the stage in the first three grafs. This sentence, in particular, stands out:
The Postal Service’s warnings of potential disenfranchisement came as the agency undergoes a sweeping organizational and policy overhaul amid dire financial conditions.
Except, in the very next paragraph, you get to the following (emphasis is mine):
The ballot warnings, issued at the end of July from Thomas J. Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the Postal Service, and obtained through a records request by The Washington Post, were planned before the appointment of Louis DeJoy, a former logistics executive and ally of President Trump, as postmaster general in early summer.
The letters were sent out, not because the USPS was concerned about their operations, but the laws governing mail-in ballots in states where they've expanded it this year. From the same article:
But the Postal Service gave 40 others — including the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida — more-serious warnings that their long-standing deadlines for requesting, returning or counting ballots were “incongruous” with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised.
Emphasis again is mine. Pennsylvania, for example, has a deadline of October 27th to request a ballot. That's one week before the election, and the deadline for the ballot to get counted is November 3rd. Note, that is when the county election office must receive the ballot. A postmark will not suffice.
The other point to consider is this: If DeJoy wanted to sabotage the post office to favor Trump, why on earth would the USPS warn states about their laws governing mail-in ballots?
The removal of sorting machines - I am going to keep this one brief. First off, the plan to remove or relocate the machines was put in place before Louis DeJoy took over as Postmaster General. Also, the president of one of the postal unions (It's not surprising that so many stories about USPS have quotes from union representation. I wonder why that is??) conceded many of the machines were not in use and couldn't say whether they'd be necessary for the fall when volume picks up. He also acknowledged the plans were in place before DeJoy took over. All of that information is in this CNN piece that, like others, puts the panic information first before getting to the relevant facts.
The removal of blue mailboxes - It’s another routine procedure the postal service carries out, utilizing data to move underused mailboxes to areas with more volume. That doesn’t matter as photos of flatbed trucks, loaded up with mailboxes have gone viral, providing more “proof” of the sabotage. What also does not make sense for any conspiracy to take place is the photos of mailboxes getting removed hail from states such as California, Oregon, and New Jersey — states Hillary won in 2016 by a collective 55 points. The USPS said they’d stop in the face of the panic, and that’s ridiculous because it lends credibility to the panic.
The DeJoy “Friday night massacre” of postal executives - It’s tedious having to explain the moves DeJoy made involving postal executives. There was no “massacre” as not a single executive lost their job. It was a reorganization and the implementation of a hiring freeze of leadership positions. That’s it. The squawking that the move could impact mail delivery is so ridiculous it defies comprehension. That didn’t stop members of Congress from making the claim:
The hyperbole is at a fever pitch, with the New York Times now referring to the issue as a “crisis.”
Now, with all of the said, is there a reason for concern? Yes. Absolutely. Trump has not earned the benefit of the doubt with him openly claiming mail-in voting is not possible with the $25 billion. That’s not true, but does it matter? He linked the two. It is now on him. That’s to say nothing of his wild and completely irresponsible accusations about the election getting “rigged” by mail-in voting. Trump’s constant attacks on government institutions make it easy for people to believe the worst of intentions regarding relatively mundane issues.
But cause for concern is not a reason to panic and it’s certainly not an excuse for people to go the full-throated conspiracy theory route. Trump is a buffoon and a wannabe authoritarian. It does no one any good to respond in kind with talk of “sabotage” and “dismantling” of the postal service when it’s nothing of the sort. Cooler heads must prevail. The press doesn’t help by framing what’s happening as a “crisis.”
I welcome all comments and disagreements.
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Until next week, folks!