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SHORT TAKES ON THE NEWS
Trump Appointee Kills Baby Chickens
The U.S. Postal Service has already removed sorting machines and mailboxes all over the country. Sorting machines that can handle 35,000 pieces of mail a day have been dismantled and thrown out. Despite Postmaster Louis DeJoy's assurances that mail-in ballots will be delivered efficiently, one observer called a California postal facility "Armageddon" with dead baby chicks, rotting fruit, and clouds of gnats. LA Times story here, our breakdown of the war against the post office here.
The backstory: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was tasked with getting the new postmaster to stack the U.S. Postal Service board with loyal Republicans, including allies of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
According to the Washington Post, Mnuchin was determined to oust the former postmaster general, Megan Brennan, who had risen through the ranks. The New York Times reported that he called a meeting that wasn't subject to "sunshine" laws requiring transparency. It's not clear whether this was legal.
David Williams, the former Postal Service inspector general and the board’s vice chairman until his resignation in protest in April against Mnuchin’s involvement, told House Democrats that Mnuchin demanded that new governors “come to his office to kiss the ring and receive his blessing before confirmation.”
Mnuchin was the CEO of Golden West, a bank that aggressively pursued foreclosures in the 2008 economic crisis. See more in Homewreckers by Aaron Glantz.
The Case for Punishment
Humans are infinitely adaptable, they say. Now we appear to be getting used to living with Covid. Although infection and death rates are rising steadily in the U.S., airline travel has nearly doubled. It's not necessarily that we're safer, but that we're becoming numb. When we do something and we aren't punished--immediately--we tend to do it again, much like children, the experts say. So the idea of giving people fines and tickets for unsafe behavior doesn't just earn money for strapped cities and towns. It just might save us from ourselves, according to the Washington Post.
Death on the U.S.-Mexico Border
How many times have we read the same story? Migrants dying as they struggle to cross the inhospitable Sonoran desert in the summer. The New York Times calls these deaths a pandemic: Biblical, tragic, and like many Covid losses, unnecessary. While we attribute a certain number of Covid deaths to theTrump administration's irresponsibility, these deaths of desperate people crossing the desert--and there are thousands each year--are the result of equally criminal negligence by four presidents, including Bill Clinton's. Will immigration, once again, fall through the cracks in a Biden administration? Kudos to the Times for a deep dive that you can read here.
For more, read Luis Alberto Urrea's book The Devil's Highway.