USA

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The U.S. Postal Service debacle hits the headlines

Republicans want mail-in ballots for themselves and deliveries for rural areas. Trump is hurting them as much as he's hurting others. So from now on, every late or lost package is Trump's fault. Great plan.

NY Times:

Poll: 58% of Biden supporters prefer to vote by mail, vs. 17% of Trump supporters.

Eighty percent of registered voters who support Mr. Trump or lean toward supporting him said they would rather vote in person — with 60 percent saying they would do so on Election Day and 20 percent saying they planned to vote early.

Only 17 percent of Trump voters or leaners cited voting by mail as a preference.

By contrast, a majority of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s backers — 58 percent — said they preferred voting by mail, according to the poll, which was conducted in late July and early August and released on Thursday.

Amidst the outrage, Congress is making noises on both sides of the aisle about doing something, but it’s more noise than action. North Carolina mails out their ballots Sept. 4. At the same time, all the attention is not going to help Trump. Rural states and Republicans depend on the Postal Service for medicines, checks business, etc., and there’s a lot more to come. 

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All the headlines are building the pressure on the Trump WH to reverse course. And a lot of the pressure is local.

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Paul Waldman/WaPo:

Trump’s attack on the Postal Service is now a national emergency

In an interview on Fox Business on Thursday morning, Trump also said of the money Democrats have requested to help states and the Postal Service ensure that mail ballots are delivered and processed in a timely fashion: “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots ... But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

So to summarize: Trump says an election in which too many Americans vote by mail would be illegitimate, so he’s doing everything he can to make sure that the Postal Service can’t handle the huge numbers of ballots it will have to deliver.

Paul Musgrave/NY Times:

Busy work
Trump’s secret political weapon: Wasting his opponents’ time

But the battle over TikTok and WeChat is part of a now-familiar story. The president or his loyalists threaten to upend some policy, institution or norm they know others will fight to defend. Issuing the challenge can be easy: a speech, a leak, a tweet or two, about immigration rules or education regulations or cutting taxes on the rich. In response, Trump’s opponents must invest substantial time, money and effort to resist the proposal — otherwise, Trump wins by default.

Essentially, the administration has weaponized wasting everyone else’s time.

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Rachael Bade/WaPo:

Discontent with McCarthy rises as GOP considers a possible post-Trump world

A cluster of GOP lawmakers is starting to privately question whether the California Republican is putting loyalty to the president over the good of the conference. And a small group of members is discussing whether someone should challenge him for minority leader if Trump is defeated Nov. 3.

The matter bubbled to the surface this week with the primary election of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fringe House candidate in Georgia who espouses the QAnon conspiracy theory and has made numerous racist comments. Multiple Republicans implored McCarthy to help defeat her by supporting her primary opponent. But McCarthy refused, phoning the candidate in an apparent peace accord before the primary, while Trump embraced her on Twitter this week as a “future Republican Star.” … 

“There’s no doubt that McCarthy is a Trump loyalist, through and through,” said Doug Heye, a former House GOP leadership staffer who has known McCarthy personally for decades. “I think the challenge for everyone in the Republican conference is, at some point there will be a post-Trump world — whether that’s coming in three months or later. What direction does the party go?” …

One House Republican was blunt in criticism of McCarthy, whom Trump has referred to as “my Kevin”: “He does nothing but lick Trump’s boots. That’s all he cares about — so no, it’s not helpful.”

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Russell Berman/Atlantic:

What Really Scares Voting Experts About the Postal Service

No matter what Trump says, the USPS has the money and the capacity to handle a huge surge in mail-in ballots. But new restrictions could disrupt the election.  

From a sheer numbers perspective, none of the experts I spoke with doubted that the Postal Service could handle a vote-by-mail election, even if every one of the nation’s more than 150 million registered voters stuck their ballot in a mailbox. As one noted to me, a presidential election might be a big deal, but in postal terms, it’s no Christmas. The Postal Service processes nearly 500 million pieces of mail every day, and it annually handles more than 3 billion pieces in the week before Christmas alone. “I don’t worry about their capacity,” Amber McReynolds, the former director of elections in Denver, who now runs the National Vote at Home Institute, a mail-balloting advocacy group, told me.

People like McReynolds are instead preoccupied by the changes DeJoy introduced within weeks of taking over the agency, and the cautionary letters the Postal Service has sent to election administrators in certain states. According to a memo published by The Washington Post, whose authenticity was verified by the American Postal Workers Union, postal employees are now instructed to leave mail behind at the post office rather than make extra trips or wait for a delayed truck—a directive that amounts to a sea change for men and women trained, in the words of one union official, that “when the mail comes in, the mail goes out.” The agency is also cutting back overtime, even though as many as 40,000 postal workers have been quarantined or out sick because of the coronavirus. The changes have already led to complaints about delayed deliveries across the country, and the potential effects on the collection and delivery of ballots in the days before the election is obvious.

Philip Bump/WaPo:

Tracking Trump’s effort to stay in office by any means necessary

Put another way, the election isn’t going well for the incumbent. Trump’s efforts to undercut Biden and to amplify a message aimed beyond encouraging his own base haven’t had noticeable effect. Were the election held tomorrow, Biden would probably win.

The election won’t be held tomorrow, though, giving Trump and his campaign time to try to woo voters and to stymie Biden’s effort in a wide range of other ways. On Thursday, for example, Trump casually informed Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo that the reason he opposed a coronavirus relief package that includes money meant to bolster voting by mail is because, without that money, an expansion of mail voting can’t happen. And since he said earlier this year that he sees mail-in voting as beneficial to Democrats, it’s not hard to figure out the play here.

Again, though, that’s simply part of a range of efforts Trump, his campaign and his broader team have used with an apparent or obvious eye toward influencing the outcome in November.

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Here’s the way headlines should always be framed:

AP:

Trump gives credence to false, racist Harris theory

Asked about the matter at the White House, Trump told reporters he had “heard” rumors that Harris, a Black woman and U.S.-born citizen whose parents were immigrants, does not meet the requirement to serve in the White House. The president said he considered the rumors “very serious.”

The theory is false. Harris, who was tapped this week by Joe Biden to serve as his running mate on the Democratic ticket, was born in Oakland, California, and is eligible for both the vice presidency and presidency under the constitutional requirements. The question is not even considered complex, according to constitution lawyers.

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Dave Roberts brings the heat on the GOP crises non-response:

Anyway, all that is familiar. The question is, WHY? Why are they doing this?
First, there's no conceivable ideological or economic rationale. None of the usual moral-hazard arguments apply. Unemployed ppl & suffering businesses aren't being lazy or shiftless ...

... they're beset by a virus, an entirely exogenous force that has nothing to do w/ their choices, for which they couldn't conceivably have any responsibility. None of the "fiscal responsibility" arguments apply. If there was ever any conceivable reason for deficit spending ...

... it's a giant exogenous crisis! What is controlling your own currency FOR if not to spend at a time like this? They aren't even offering a coherent argument for why cities & states shouldn't get aid. Pinheads like R. Paul & T. Cruz are opposing fed assistance based on ...

... a bizarre, kneejerk "gov't should never spend $$$" instinct that has no basis in any ideology or economics. Nor is anyone on the right even pretending to offer a coherent justification for forcing people back into schools/offices/bars when the damn pandemic is still raging.

And the wildest thing of all is, it isn't coherent ideology, it isn't good policy, it isn't good economics, but it *isn't good politics either*. It's not like they're sacrificing responsible governance in a bid for popularity. People HATE the shit they're doing!

So, collectively, their behavior makes no policy, economic, OR political sense. It is not to their benefit, in any way. Why the F are they doing it? Is it shady billionaire donors running the show? Kochs or whatever? I can't see how they're helped by this either. No one is.

The conclusion I've come to is that no one's in charge. They're not doing anything, per se. The party has lost all superego & runs entirely on id now - no strategy, no plan, no intentionality. All that's left is a bunch of tired tropes & instincts that haven't changed in decades.

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