Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

 

D.T. (as aides refer to the present occupant of the Oval Office) is really quite good at one special skill: branding. He has slapped his name on a ridiculous range of consumer merch — teddy bears, steaks, made-in-China ties, vodka, underwear and even a urine test. His nasty policies and behavior steadily turned the brand toxic, as only two merchandisers have kept his name on their products. Still, some two dozen towers, condos, palaces and other glossy real estate edifices blare his name, and 17 global golf meccas proclaim his ostentatious wealth. Then, of course, there’s his very own post office.

Yes, he bought a 60-year lease on the “Old Post Office Pavilion,” an iconic 1899 federal structure that once housed our country’s postal service and has also been the home of various other national government agencies. Located just five blocks from the White House, D.T. and daughter Ivanka had it converted into a 270-room hotel for the rich in 2016. “The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.,” boasting gold-trimmed bathrooms and a 5,000-square-foot suite in what once was the office of America’s postmaster general. The suite can be yours for about $25,000 a night (but that’s a bargain compared to a bigger presidential suite that The Donald named for himself, charging up to $29,000 for a one-night-stay, plus $4,000 in taxes). Branding the once-public facility with the family name was “really important,” Ivanka declared at the launch of the redo. “You’ve got to be careful,” she explained. “You can’t allow people to walk by thinking it’s a post office.”

Daddy agrees. Now that he’s in the White House, he wants to bring the family’s sensibility for branding to our local POs. The Trumpsters say it’s time to turn this historic public service over to the magic of the free market profit motive and the efficiency of bottom-line corporate management. You know, like airlines and cable companies.

This spring, Donald signed an order creating an inter-agency federal task force to propose structural reforms in the U.S. Postal Service. In a stunningly short time — shazam! — the task force (comprised entirely of top Trump officials) issued its cursory report only 10 weeks later, with a key recommendation that fit their base to a T: “Prepare (USPS) for future conversion from a government agency into a privately-held corporation.”

Are they not aware that the mail agency is enormously popular and important to the public? A February Pew Research poll finds that an astonishing 88 percent of Americans give a thumbs-up to the PO’s work, dwarfing the pitiful approval rating of Trump and the congress critters who’re trying to kill it. Even the president’s executive order that set up the task force conceded that our postal service “is regularly cited as the Federal agency with the highest public approval rating.”

The 640,000 middle-class postal workers and letter carriers merit such kudos because they literally deliver for us in every ZIP code . Working from 30,825 local POs, they trundle 150 billion pieces of mail a year, 4 million miles a day to 157 million addresses across the land, from inner-city neighborhoods to back roads—and deliver them within a few days. They carry their loads door to door, ride snowmobiles, fly bush planes, run mailboats and even ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on mules to reach us. USPS does all of this without taking a dime in taxpayer funds, financing its operations entirely from its sales and services to customers.

This is an unmatched bargain, a civic treasure, a genuine public good that links all of America’s people and communities into one. And that’s why the right wing is so dead set on offing it. For decades, extremist anti-government propogandists (from the John Birchers to the Koch brothers) have relentlessly pushed the narrative that government is inherently incompetent, wasteful and “the problem” — a social evil that is to be hated and, piece by piece, eliminated.

The problem for these ideologues and corporate predators is that USPS is not only a government agency that works, but a tangible presence in people’s daily lives, so millions of folks see it working for them. Therefore, to maintain the negative political narrative about public entities, the far-right corporatists are desperate to kill our public post offices. For more information and to keep the post office public, go to USMailNotForSale.org.

Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.

 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.