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Testimony of Mark Jamison; Jones v. United States Postal Service Part I

Testimony of Retired Postmaster Mark Jamison in law suit against the USPS and DeJoy filed Wednesday, September 2, 2020, Save The Post Office

Jones vs Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service and Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States, US District Court, Southern District, New York

Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion for Preliminary Injunction, US District Court, Southern District, New York

Declaration of Mark Jamison, US District Court, Southern District, New York

“Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Introduction

Those were the stirring words of President Lincoln during his first inaugural address. The nation had come to a crossroads or perhaps it was a dead end, we could no longer go on without facing our original sin, what some euphemistically called “that peculiar institution.”  After four years of the bloodletting, we finally put aside the evils of slavery, but rather than finish the job we stopped half way.

It took a century to bring the hope of healing to the next step with the Civil Rights laws of the 1960’s. And still we hid from our responsibilities and the hopeful destiny that could have been our course. Some clung to hate and privilege, resisting and rejecting the idea that all of us were created equal and had a role to play as citizens in this experiment of self-government.

Today we have the opportunity to starkly face and solidly put to rest the sins of our past. Even now when the chance to make amends is within our grasp there are those who choose anger and dissension, hate and separation, obfuscation and obstruction over opportunity.

There is no right more sacred than the right to vote, to exercise one’s choice in free and fair elections. Through the Civil War, World Wars, the 1919 flu pandemic and all matter of natural disasters, we have made it a point to hold elections. In these troubled times, faced with another pandemic, there are those who would obstruct our ability to vote for purely partisan reasons. There are those who are too cowardly to stand before the electorate and seek an honest count.

We can and must do better. Every citizen who wants to vote should be able to vote and there should be no question or impediment that prevents that or the counting of their ballot. Every voice must be heard.

The U.S. Postal Service is a treasured institution. It has been around in one form or another since before our country was founded. The mandate of Title 39 gives the Postal Service a mission — binding the nation together. Those words are reminiscent of Mr. Lincoln’s mystic chords. The idea of binding the nation together also implies a healing and a connection. For our entire history the Postal Service has bound this nation together.

Today there are at least ten lawsuits seeking to ensure that the Postal Service does not become another casualty in our age where our most cherished norms and even basic truth itself are rejected for fear mongering, conspiracy theories, financial  advantage, and the exposition of ugly hate that tarnishes any notion of our better angels.

I had the privilege of testifying in one of those suits.

The following testimony was submitted to the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in the case of Mondaire Jones, et al., v. United States Postal Service, et al, on Sept. 2, 2020. The testimony in its original legal format is here.

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Trump and Antifa

No one seems to know what or who Antifa is; so far be it from me to pretend that I do. I did meet a self-avowed one once. Interviewed the young man for 30-45 minutes; even talked on the phone a few minutes with his parents who lived in Oakland. By way of providing context; this was during the Occupy Wall Street protests in Oakland, CA. Down from Portland, OR, he was looking for a place to stay for ‘up to a week’. Twitchy, desperate, and vague, …, fits the description. I encouraged him to talk on the premise that I would learn more from listening than from asking.

It’s been a while, memory fades, but here’s what I recall: There was some connection to Guy Fox (Fawkes). His parents told me that they were estranged from their son, that he was involved in activities they didn’t approve of, would not allow their son to stay in their home, and couldn’t recommend that I do so. Joining a protest movement in progress was obviously nothing new for him. He was a bit of a Peter Pan; having no visible means of support. Others from Portland had come down at the same time. He talked vaguely about radioactive materials. For sure, he wasn’t down to sit in a tent on Broadway. I came to conclude that the young man was an anarchist, sought to somehow bring the Occupy Wall Street protest to a boil, to get a real revolution going, and, that somehow, he thought that doing so was a good thing. He intimated that he may have somehow been tangentially involved in the WTO riots in Seattle; not sure those numbers worked.

There is little evidence that Trump knows or cares what Antifa is other than a word that spits well. He does seem to believe that it would be good to associate such a mysterious sound with liberalism. Here in the US, it seems that no one is clear on what or who Antifa is. I hear that there is a more defined Antifa Movement in Europe. But anarchists abound. Some of the right-wing armed militia groups advocate Civil War which would certainly lead to anarchy. Many of Bernie’s Bros wished to pull the house down.

What is the appeal of tearing the house down and starting all over again? For the Right, it appears to be a wish to erase all changes to the nation since 1950; 20-30 years before most of the militiamen were born. For Bernie’s Bros, a wish to somehow impose their political philosophy on us all; something straight out of the bowels of 1950s Brooklyn, NYC. Seems 1950 was a very good year.

In the breast of every good anarchist beats the heart of one who sees themselves coming out on top in the end. All takers of shortcuts to the top of the mountain they would reduce to rubble. Hard to think of the armed right-wing militia groups separate seeing them as white supremacists wishing to return us to those good old days when blacks and browns knew their place. Cases of arrested development the both. Fantasies of Anarchism are common to teenage boys; fantasies fortunately most outgrow. What are the odds that these fantasies would persist so long in so many into middle age and beyond? Our times.

What of those who would employ these lost souls for their own purpose? Trump, no doubt saw right-wing, white supremacist, armed militias as part of a coalition allowing him to attain and retain the reins of power. In case of anarchy, Trump would do his fail-up trick to come out on top. Bernie must have thought that he could somehow leverage his <30% of about 30% into his gaining control of those very same reins. As to how Bernie was planning to ascend to the top in the advent of anarchy, don’t know.

In Trump’s case, they did follow. Alas, for Bernie’s, we will never know. Is America a land of sheep, or only a land of half sheep?

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DeJoy’s Fix for the Post Office: The Wrong Time, the Wrong Plan, the Wrong Man

PMG Louis DeJoy’s Fix for the Post Office, Mark Jamison, Save The Post Office, Aug. 29, 2020

After years of being a journalistic backwater the Postal Service is all over the news. From the usual contextually vacant reports about financial losses, we shifted to meaty and sometimes sensational coverage about the removal of Blue collections boxes and mail processing equipment at plants. There’s also the entrance of a new villain on the scene, Louis DeJoy, a wealthy Trump and Republican contributor with business interests and investments that coincide with the Postal Service.
Mr. DeJoy began his tenure as Postmaster General in June of this year after being named to the post by the Postal Board of Governors, which oversees postal operations. The Board is populated by a former RNC chair, a couple of investment bankers, the CEO of a public affairs and corporate advocacy consultancy, and a former CEO of various logistics and transportation companies that also specialized in mail consolidation, a form of outsourcing of mail processing.

Mr. DeJoy’s first couple of months have been eventful to say the least. His comments to the BOG at his first open session of the board on August 7th make clear that his intentions are to transform the Postal Service. Early in his remarks he says, “We are at the beginning of a transformative process. Our goal is to change and improve the Postal Service to better serve the American public, and I am excited about the opportunities ahead.” He proceeds to offer the usual professions of fealty to the ethic of service to the American, followed by the even more usual assertions about the dire straits the institution finds itself in.

Whatever he may say, it’s clear that Mr. DeJoy has entered the scene like a bull in a china shop. Within weeks of his taking office, there have been widespread reports of delays and service failures (which are backed up by internal USPS documents), news stories about Blue box removals, reports of mail processing equipment being removed, employee reports of mail left on docks or at carrier cases, and actions that seem to violate basic contractual provisions with the unions, causing the initiation of grievances as well as the breakdown of normal lines of communication between the APWU and L’Enfant Plaza. Mr. DeJoy seems to be moving full steam ahead at executing the expressed desires of the president for dismantling the USPS.

It’s fair to say that under DeJoy the Postal Service has lost any sense of urgency with respect to delivery of the mails. DeJoy seems to be taking his cue from the Wall Street manipulators who populate the BOG and hired DeJoy. He is in paring mode, sacrificing service and performance for operational reductions with questionable or at least unproven financial payoffs. This is especially damning during a pandemic and economic slowdown and certainly before an election, times when the postal network is more necessary and important than ever.

An article earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal suggests that DeJoy is actually doing the right things “to make the U.S. Postal Service’s operations more efficient,” but he may have picked the wrong time to get started on them.

But the problem is bigger than the timing. It’s always the wrong time for any plan that sacrifices service for “efficiency.” DeJoy’s plan is the wrong plan for saving the post office, and DeJoy is simply the wrong man for the job.

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“Be Ready to Distribute Vaccines on Nov. 1”

CDC tells states: Be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1, Modern Healthcare, September 2, 2020

The federal government told states to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine to be ready to distribute by Nov. 1; from which the declaration of the early timeline raised concern among public health experts about the  “October surprise” of a vaccine approval and use being driven by political considerations ahead of a presidential election, rather than science.

The planning  documents here and here sent to governors Aug. 27 by CDC Director Robert Redfield advises states they will receive permit applications “in the near future” from the authorized distributor, McKesson Corporation, to distribute vaccines to places which include state and local health departments and hospitals. Dr Redfield wrote in an accompanying  letter,

“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020,”

There is not even a hint or a suggestion of partial Phase 3 testing being given beforehand which causes me to wonder if the extent of this is allowed under the 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2018. The act allowed for the skirting of some testing and the use actual data outside of the normal testing protocol to show a drug works? I believe the Cures Act only allowed a partial go-live on new drugs during a phrase 3. We must be following Putin lead. He gave the vaccine to his daughter. Perhaps, Trump will have Ivanka inoculated ?

Any volunteers at AB?

C.D.C. Tells States How to Prepare for Covid-19 Vaccine by Early November, New York Times, September 2, 2020

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Preserve the People’s Post Office: Let Us Do Meaningful Postal Reform

It is said the Postal Service is mired in debt, that it is unsustainable, a burden to the American people. This is the position of the current postmaster general, supported by the board of governors who hired him and by a treasury secretary who seems to be the chief architect of the current assault on a cherished national institution, goaded by a president who cares little for governing or the public welfare.

These claims are a lie, one that has been pushed repeatedly for at least fifty years by those who would steal an American asset and convert its public benefits into private profits.

If the Postal Service has large unfunded liabilities, it is as much because they have been defined as such by those who seek to look at this most American of institutions in a way that lays the most burdens upon its shoulders. The truth is that the Postal Service has incurred its liabilities in the service of a greater and necessary good. Far from being onerous and intractable, they are evidence of a skewed perspective, a perspective bent on being intentionally blind in furtherance of an ideology that denigrates and denies the validity and necessity of government.

If one begins with the premise that government is only a creator of debt, then the normative assumptions underlying the accounting systems designed to measure government will be weighted towards finding liability, not value.

The Postal Service has employed as many as 800,000 Americans gainfully in jobs that paid living wage and provided life-sustaining healthcare and secure retirements. These benefits rebound and reverberate through local economies, spreading both wealth and security. They have lifted many whose options were otherwise limited into productive middle-class lives while bringing communities together. And this has been done in the service of a noble and useful purpose, creating an essential infrastructure whose uses are limited only by a failure of imagination and political will.

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What is Looting?

“Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance.” — Guy Debord, “The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy.”

The photograph used in Andy Warhol’s 1964 print, “Race Riot” was taken by Charles Moore and was published in LIFE magazine in May of 1963. Warhol used it without permission and Moore sued. Eventually there was an out-of-court settlement. The scene depicted was not a “Race Riot” as Warhol’s presumably ironic title claimed. It was a police attack ordered by Police Commissioner “Bull” Connor on a nonviolent demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama.

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The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

As I have frequently noted, Trump’s approval has always reverted to the mean, absent a new outrage that is both unusually cruel and simultaneously unusually inept. Since there has been none in the past few weeks, Trump’s margin reverted by 2% for both approval and disapproval. Perhaps more importantly, there has been virtually no movement in the past week, despite the RNC convention:

 

Here is the updated map through August 22. To refresh, here is how  it works:

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A Carrier Named Stennis

That’s Stennis as in John C. of Mississippi. An Aircraft Carrier as in a really big ship that cost $4.5 Billion in 1995. John C. Stennis was a renowned segregationist who rose to power in the US Senate on the basis of seniority which means that he was very popular in Mississippi; US Senate from 1947-1989. Senator Stennis was always generous with northern states’ money when it came to the Defense Department Budgets. Never met an aircraft, tank, or ship that he wasn’t in favor of; sort of Mississippi’s entitle. So it isn’t surprising to learn that the Navy named a Carrier after him; excepting for the segregationist part, that is.

Modern US Navy Aircraft Carriers are huge and powerful. The Stennis is more than 1,000 feet long, displaces (weighs) more than 115,000 tons, and is very powerful. With 260,000 shaft horsepower she has a top speed around 40 knots; she can throw a rooster tail. Just guessing, I would say that each of her 4 screws is about 27 feet in diameter and that at full speed there is 2 and 1/2 turns torque in her number two shaft. US Navy Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers were once designated CVA(N)s. The A stood for Attack. Now CVNs without the A, attacks in faraway places is still what they are built for. They go all around the world, are known by their names, are seen by millions in faraway places.  At any given time, some 3,000 sailors have the Carrier’s name on a shoulder.

Mississippi is in the process of changing her state flag because of the old flag’s racial connotations. The US Navy needs to change the name of the USS John C. Stennis to something more in-tune with the 21st Century.

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250B

We have a President who tells us that he has an education in economics from an Ivy League School who doesn’t know what per capita means; who doesn’t understand doubling. Inescapable: Our president is not educated. Most of our high schools turn out a better product. This President is on track to be the very worst President ever. So why does he want to remain in office another 4 years? What is this guy really after?

It might be that financially he lives in a house of cards; that behind all the facades are cardboard walls and ceilings propped up with sticks. As President, he has $Billions and legions at his command, planes, helicopters, and armored cars at his disposal.  If reelected the charade can go on another 4 years. If he loses office, the tax collectors will take his couch and he won’t even have a place to sleep. Homelessness is a big step down.

It might be that this President is a criminal, that losing office could mean certain imprisonment; too, a long way to fall. It now appears that the Russian connection may go way back, involve loans that were not financially justifiable. Maybe Putin literally does own him. Having something on someone is something he could relate to, could understand, something he had learned at the knees of Father Fred, Roy Cohn, and Robert Moses. Something like this with someone like Putin could be a matter of life or death.

Might be that this President is a would-be Hitler. There are many similarities. He has managed to co-opt Departments of Justice, State, Health and Human Services, …; has his own armed militia of volunteers. And, there’s that kept at the ready nightstand copy his First tells of.

Maybe this President wants to be the richest man in the world. That he, like any good father, he wants to give each of his children $Billions and a Crown, and maybe each a small nation of their own. The richest man in the world would have to be very rich; at least $250B, and there are the children. Should we try to make our best deal now?

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Appeals Court Rejects Flynn’s Attempt to End Trial

The crux of yesterday’s ruling by the D.C. District COA is you cannot force a US District judge to drop criminal charges before they have ruled. In an enblanc  session on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit ruled 8-2 against Flynn’s plea to drop charges before Columbia District Judge Emmett Sullivan had ruled on the DOJ motion to dismiss Flynn’s case. District Judge Emmet Sullivan can now proceed to  examine why the Justice Department took the unprecedented step of dropping its criminal case against Flynn. This flies in the face of a three judge panel 2-1 ruling deciding Judge Emmett should drop the case.

George W. Bush appointee Karen Henderson and Trump appointee Neomi Rao, each filed a dissent claiming the case should be reassigned to another judge as Judge Emmett Sullivan has shown partiality and the COA has been inconsistent with its established practice. The COA has not ruled out another Flynn appeal at a later date after Judge Sullivan rules.

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