Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

2020 Voter Fraud

First, look at the political make up the states from where all the noise of voter fraud is coming. These states have:

  • Republican legislatures as determined by Gerrymandering.
  • A trifecta (possibly) which is a Republican Governor and legislature.
  • A historical turnout of voters in 2020.
  • A higher turnout of Democratic voters than Republican.
  • A reversal of votes from Repubs to Democrats historically or from 2016 to 2020 (MI, WI, and PA)
  • Had a normal percentage of votes for Others, Libertarian, etc. candidates in 2020 as compared to 2016.

Enough people woke up to the tyranny of trump and Republicans. It is rich that each one of the states trump is complaining about is either 100% controlled by Republicans or at least has a Repub controlled legislature. Michigan has its Republican controlled legislature.  Georgia has a trifecta (Republican legislature and governor) as does Arizona. Pennsylvania has a Republican Legislature, as does North Carolina and Wisconsin. These were the states in play this election.

Nevada has had a Democratic  legislature since 2008 and has a Dem Gov. for the first time since 1994.

Distribution

These days, the nation, the world, is faced with the problem of how to distribute wealth, wealth that is being created using less and less labor input? How to distribute the profits from highly capitalized, highly automated, production? Unions, that had been much a part of the solution to the distribution problem in the early 20th century, are becoming more and more irrelevant. A new economic model is desperately needed.

Since the dawning of the Industrial Revolution, wealth has been created by the production of manufactured goods. To date, the sharing/distribution of this wealth has been by way of exchanging labor for wages. Except for the brief period from around 1940 to 1970 when union jobs commanded good wages, this method never really work all that well; much of the time, the god awful of Zola, Dickens, and Sinclair Lewis. In this, the age of technology, for a price, many task can be, have been, partially or completely automated using a combination of computers, servo motors, sensors, and programming. Now, many tasks, once performed by well paid union workers, are being performed by ‘robots’. Today’s work force tends to be either professional, highly technical, or service, with the professionals and technicians being well paid and the service workers often being paid less than a living wage. Good paying blue collar union jobs have become rare. In the heydays from around 1940 to 1970, the wealth created from the production of manufactured goods was distributed via the good union salaries to the economy as a whole. As a consequence, merchants thrived, towns thrived, schools thrived, farmers thrived, contractors thrived, … Much of society, including municipal governments, was premised on this model.

We now need an economic model that will somehow directly distribute the profits from production to the population in a somewhat equitable manner that doesn’t rely on the exchange of labor for wages. If, somehow, sufficient numbers of the population shared in the profits from automated manufacturing, and distributed their share into the community at large by consuming goods and services, thus giving others the means of consuming, such a model wouldn’t look a great deal different than the one existent from 1940 to 1970. If, for example, in exchange for the federal monies granted corporations during the COVID pandemic, the government had demanded corporate shares in return, in a sense, the public, via the government, would now be part owners in these corporations. The federal government could then distribute any future returns from this ownership to the public. In another example, a government, federal, state, or local, could exact a share of a corporations profits by way of taxes, then distribute those revenues to the populace. Governments can nationalize corporations. And, no doubt, there are, will be proposed, other ways of accomplishing distribution going forward.

There has to be another way. Not changing isn’t an option. It makes no sense to continue doing something that does not, cannot, work.

Processing Center Percentages are “Not” On Time Delivery Percentages

Steve Hutkins of Save the Post Office has been live blogging and providing updates to the 12 federal district court cases filed. In the November 6, 2020 Update Steve discusses the delivery updates being filed in court and which are being used by some news outlets to show the USPS has been delivering ballots late and not on Election Day. Steve cautions against the use of this data as actual delivery dates are different than processing dates.

November 6, 2020 Update

The Postal Service’s daily reports on service performance, election mail, and late/extra trips (submitted as part of the Joint Order from the courts in RichardsonVote Forward, and NAACP) can be found here.

Steve Hutkins: One note about these daily reports on election mail. Some news reports are looking at these reports and misinterpreting the data and saying things like this:

“The data based on scans of ballot envelopes that were filed in Sullivan’s court Wednesday suggested that in South Florida, just 85.12% of the mail-in-ballots were delivered on Election Day and in central Pennsylvania, just 61.3% of the mail-ballots in the postal system were delivered on time both of which were based on the scan data in the court filing shown. In Philadelphia, slightly more than 66% of the mail-in ballots had been delivered on Election Day. In Atlanta 82.2% percent of the mail-in ballots were delivered on Election Day, the court filing shows.”

The daily numbers being reported do not indicate how much of the mail was delivered on time, i.e., within the service standard of two or three days. These numbers are  processing  scores, i.e., the percent of the ballots that went through the processing network on time. They do not encompass;

the “first mile” (the step between a voter dropping a ballot in the mail and its arrival at a processing center) or the “last mile” (from post office to letter carrier to destination).

USPS Court Case Updates – Election Ballot Delays

Steve Hutkins on-line live blogging at Save the Post Office has been updating the progress of the “Lawsuits against DeJoy, USPS & Trump with relation to mail delays and election mail. This is the sweep ordered by the court for the USPS to perform to discover and report via the  “sweep of facilities”  how many ballots (were) are being delayed due to the USPS. The twitter link in the Afternoon Update has numerous comments on the delay by the USPS delaying the Sweep. In the Morning Update (below) there are multiple various commentary by news outlets.

More to come.

November 5, 2020

Afternoon Update: Judge Sullivan presided over another hearing today. One of the questions on the table was how many ballots may have been delivered late or are still in the system and not delivered yet. The Postal Service shared some specific numbers, as reported in a great “live” twitter thread on the hearing by @USPostOffice911.

Looking a ballots without a destination scan, the Postal Service says that in the Central PA district, there are 1524 total, and of these USPS has confidence that 979 were expedited, while 545 require further investigation.  In Greensboro, 3087 total, 1752 expedited, 1335 to investigate. In the Carolina district, 2404 total without destination scans, 1204 confidence they were expedited, 1200 to investigate. In Philadelphia, 2496 total, 1682 expedited, 814 to investigate. The Postal Service said that there is no evidence yet that the ballots in the “investigated” category were not delivered.

In a separate filing, the Postal Service provided a list of the number of ballots that were delivered Express in each district over the three days Nov. 1- Nov. 3. The total appears to be about 10,655.

The plaintiffs have presented two proposed orders, which Judge Sullivan appears to have ordered.

Outsourcing

Warning! First person ahead. I don’t usually talk about myself, don’t even like to talk about people, but this a story that I want to tell and don’t know how to otherwise do so. So, your forbearance, please. Those of you who have been around as long as I, have probably witnessed personnel changes that follow a change in political Administrations. I happened to be on campus when Reagan became governor in 1967 and saw people with no qualifications whatsoever, other than their political connections, take over high level administrative positions. As a child, I saw rural Postmasters come and go with changes in Presidential Administrations, and thought, wow, now that’s connected. Richard Nixon handed out contracts to build ships, and a whole sundry of other things. Gerald Ford was into skiing. In the 1980s, we saw Reagan’s Candy Store, operated by Ed Meese, handout Post Offices, funds for streets and roadways, etc. Bush I handed out an International Airport. Bush II, through his loyal sidekick, Little Beaver, pretended to hand out Hurricane Katrina relief, but in reality outsourced it to Halliburton, who outsourced it to connecteds in Texas, who outsourced it to hard-ups in New Orleans, who they never paid. Trump outsourced everything, or almost everything. Didn’t want to take responsibility.

On 9/11, in 2001, I was a gun for hire, a consultant for control systems. At that time, I was working mostly for the Bio-techs such as Bayer and Genentech. In 2002, when it came time to renew my professional liability, I was told that it would be $15,000 for six months; ten times a much as before; that I might not be able to get coverage at all; that it was just the market. I had never had a claim. Made a couple calls, same answer. So, I called my fellow consultants, to ask about perhaps subbing under them. They had ran into the same numbers. The younger ones took jobs with Bayer, Genentech, … Us older guys were simply out of luck.

Someone had decided to shutdown small contractors, to ensure all those contracts at firms like Genentech, Bayer, went to larger, well connected firms; firms that hired H1Bs almost exclusively. Doubt that Genentech, Bayer, … ever knew; though they were the losers, or would have been if bio-tech wasn’t basically cost plus. It had nothing to do with competence. I had spent many an hour explaining to these guys, how systems and components worked, and why something had smoked when they turned it on.

I really truly doubt that Bush II or Cheney I knew anything about any of this.  Though the agent mumbled that it did, it certainly didn’t have anything to do with 9/11. But in their Administration, there were those who were tasked with this sort of thing. Someone who had been given the list of, taken the calls from, those someones who had contributed lots of money to the campaign; tasked with responding when those contributors called in their chits.  9/11 was used as an excuse for a lot of things.

Without going into the weeds about patents, up until 2003, if one thought they had a infringement, they could make two or three phones calls and within hours they could get a lawyer to take to case on contingency. High risk for the lawyer, but these guys were willing to put up $millions of their own in return for the possibility of winning many times as much in settlement. Many fortunes had been made. By 2007, they all demurred, just couldn’t do it anymore. Cost too much, and the odds were stacked against them. Maybe Bush I and Cheney did or didn’t know about this; but someone did. Someone did it for them. Doubt that the call even has to come from the White House, but everyone involved knows what it’s about. Today, patents are only for the really big guys; infringement suits are now pissing contests amongst $Billoinaires. There must be a 9/11 in there somewhere. Let the record show, though history will not record, this is how politics work.

Dearly Beloved

Our beloved Constitution has flaws. Only a very few, but these few have cost the Nation dearly, and, unless corrected, will continue to do so. It is very possible that unless corrected, they will lead to the Nation’s demise. These flaws have been and are being taken advantage of by the worst among us, and used against the rest of us. The electoral college, that most undemocratic of bodies, has, in just sixteen years, seated two of our most incompetent presidents, both of whom have greatly damaged the nation. The Senators from states with less than one-million population have as much say in our nation’s affairs as do those from states with forty-million population. The structuring of the Senate has from our early days allowed abhorrents like Mitch McConnell to extort the nation and stuff the courts with right wing ideologues. Presently, we have a supreme Court majority that would use the Constitution to deny some of our citizens the right to vote. A Court that has recently interpreted the Constitution as allowing for gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. In the face of such flaws, the ratifying of amendments is nigh on to impossible. Amendments have not, can not correct these flaws. Not some but all native born and naturalized citizens must have equal rights in every way, and know full and equal representation.  We know well of the difficulty of the bargaining, fault not those who bargained; but it is time to save all the good and great parts of our constitution and rid it of those few that paid paeanage to colonial governments, wealth, and slave holders in the barter for votes of ratification. Amendments can not adequately append modern concepts of personage and rights to the Constitution’s august body. There can be no full solution for these structural problems other than direct addressment of their cause. It is time to appoint a constitutional commission to list and correct these known flaws.

Voting by Mail and the Next Election Meltdown – A Prophecy

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office, October 31, 2020

This post was written in 2016 and slightly updated on Oct. 31, 2018, exactly two years ago today. The update started like this:

According to this AP report today, alarms are already being raised about the rejection of many mail-in ballots in next week’s elections. Several of these elections are likely to be very close, and in some cases, votes cast by mail may make the difference. As the AP article notes, “nearly one of every four ballots cast in 2016 came through the mail or was handed in at a drop-off location, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.” With more and more people choosing to vote by mail, controversies involving mail ballots are likely. Back in 2016, just before the November election, we ran this article about the potential for an election “meltdown” arising from voting-by-mail issues.

Following is the 2018 update, with no further revisions for 2020. Some of the details are out-of-date and incorrect, but much of the post is more relevant now than it was then.

Stop Girdling the Post Office

Mark Jamison, Retired NC Postmaster at Save the Post Office, October 29, 2020

In forestry the practice of tree girdling is well known. Although there are some circumstances where this can be a useful practice, in most cases the technique is used for nefarious ends. Girdling involves removing the bark and layers below the bark, usually around the trunk of the tree. The cut, when it includes the entire circumference of the tree, makes it impossible for the tree to heal itself and everything above the cut will eventually die. In forests where logging is limited to dying or diseased trees, loggers will girdle healthy trees to kill them and make them available for harvest.

For at least the last fifty years, the right wing has been girdling the post office and the postal network in the hope of undermining its health and thereby reaping a financial harvest. The very people who have been charged with caring for and sustaining the Postal Service have instead repeatedly cut services, saddled the institution with requirements that undermine its ability to function, and denigrated the value of the network.

Louis DeJoy and Robert Duncan are the latest in the long line of postal girdlers. But they have taken their game to a higher level and for what are clearly political reasons. Both are products of the president that appointed them and both evidence their benefactor’s outright mendacity. They have made it clear that regardless of the law, public necessity, or public opinion, their goal is to cut postal operations. The recent OIG report reviewed here at STPO  demonstrates that clearly.

DeJoy’s 57 Varieties of Cost Cutting: What’s in the new OIG report—and what’s not?

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office, October 26, 2020

In response to several inquiries from members of Congress, the Office of Inspector General has issued a report on “Operational Changes to Mail Delivery.” The report discusses the Postal Service’s plan to eliminate 64 million work hours — the equivalent of 33,000 jobs — by implementing 57 cost-cutting initiatives. As discussed in this previous post, the plan represents one of the largest downsizing efforts in the 50-year history of the Postal Service.

These 57 “Do It Now FY Strategies” include restrictions on overtime, late and extra trips from processing centers, and all the other cost-cutting measures that have caused the delivery delays we’ve seen since July. They also include numerous other changes to postal operations that have not received much, if any, attention.

The report criticizes postal leadership on several counts. First, the Postal Service “did not complete a study or analysis of the impact the changes would make on mail service prior to implementation.” Second, “documentation and guidance to the field for these strategies was very limited and almost exclusively oral.” That caused “confusion and inconsistency” and “compounded the significant negative service impacts across the country.”

The IG also criticizes management for a third major failing: The Postal Service did not “fully respond” to questions and document requests from Congress and did not share information about the plan beyond what the Postmaster General was specifically asked in his testimony before the House and Senate.

As a result, Congress was not informed of the existence of the Work Hour Reduction Plan and the “Do It Now FY Strategies” before or during the Postmaster General’s testimony to Congress. The plan is not mentioned at all in Senator Gary Peters “Failure to Deliver” report or his update report. It’s very likely that Congress has yet to receive a full accounting of the plan.

Do we really want our rights to be determined by the understandings of centuries ago?

The Philosophy That Makes Amy Coney Barrett So Dangerous, NYT, Erwin Chemerinsky, October 2020, Opinion Piece

If I did not know this man personally, I would have never looked to him for help and also advice from time to time.  It was only through a friend I wrote with at the old Slate site, I had the chance to meet him.

Professor Chemerinsky discusses the dangers of applying an originalism interpretation of the US Constitution. There is not much I can add to this and I would call this article a copy and paste at Angry Bear. It is a good read for nonlegal based readers.

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In 1987, Robert Bork was denied confirmation to the Supreme Court because his originalist beliefs were deemed a serious threat to constitutional rights. Originalism is no less dangerous for those rights today, yet Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s repeated statements professing her belief in originalism have been met with little objection.

Originalists believe that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it was adopted and that it can change only by constitutional amendment. Under this view, the First Amendment means the same thing as when it was adopted in 1791 and the 14th Amendment means the same thing as when it was ratified in 1868.

But rights in the 21st century should not be determined by the understandings and views of centuries ago. This would lead to terrible results. The same Congress that voted to ratify the 14th Amendment, which assures equal protection of the laws, also voted to segregate the District of Columbia public schools. Following originalism would mean that Brown v. Board of Education was wrongly decided in declaring laws requiring segregation of schools unconstitutional.

In fact, under the original public meaning of the Constitution, it would be unconstitutional to elect a woman as president or vice president until the Constitution is amended. Article II refers to them with the pronoun “he,” and there is no doubt that original understanding was that only men could hold these offices.

Throughout American history, the Supreme Court has rejected originalism and protected countless rights that cannot possibly be justified under that theory. For example, the court has interpreted the word “liberty” in the Constitution to protect the right to marry, to procreate, to custody of one’s children, to keep the family together, to control the upbringing of one’s children, to purchase and use contraceptives, to obtain an abortion, to engage in private adult consensual same-sex sexual activity, and to refuse medical treatment.