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“Now we’re sort of the stupid party”

jones

Shortly after the President was diagnosed with Covid-19, long-time, high-level Republican operative Ed Rollins publicly lamented Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic.

Rollins, who is currently co-chair of the pro-Trump Great America super PAC, wailed, “There was a panic before this started, but now we’re sort of the stupid party.”

Rollins was referring to the events leading up to Trump’s contraction of the virus, including the September 26 super-spreading White House Rose Garden soiree to announce Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. There in the crowd were many unmasked Republican elite, crammed together, hugging and infecting one another, including the Trumps. It was a clear illustration of the consequences of ignoring the advice of epidemiologists.

Unfortunately, a bit too much of the stupid has found its way into the ranks of that Grand Old Party in recent years. It did not start with Trump, but he has certainly hastened the rush toward what Rollins bemoaned. The stupid is not confined to Trump’s pandemic response, however.

In the mid-60s, Congressional Republicans teamed with President Johnson to legislate civil rights and voting rights protections for people of color. That was in the proud tradition of the party founder, Abraham Lincoln. Now, Trump and his party are doing their level best to discourage and depress voting opportunities for minority citizens. Trying to shut American citizens out of the electoral process is not a smart thing to do. Disenfranchisement builds anger and frustration of the type we are seeing play out on the streets of many American cities today. It won’t end up benefiting the GOP in the long run.

Trump incessantly attacks the integrity of our elections, the very bedrock of our democracy. There is no credible evidence of significant fraud in our elections, but that has not stopped Trump’s diatribes against mail-in balloting and election security. Russian media largely echo his attacks on our elections in an effort to delegitimize our form of government. It is stupid to give Vladimir Putin aid and comfort in that devious enterprise.

Trump struggles mightily with the simple task of denouncing white supremacists and other dangerous extremists. It is a good way to garner the votes of Proud Boys, QAnon members, Boogaloo Bois, and various and assorted vigilantes and militias, but it puts the country at risk.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have identified “violent extremists who are motivated by white supremacy and other far-right ideological causes” as the “most significant terror-related threat facing the U.S.” Trump darkly hinted at the presidential debate that some of these people may be deployed to the polls on November 3. It is not too bright to give these types the presidential stamp of legitimacy.

The problem is not just with Trump’s misguided leadership, but with the total lack of leadership by Republicans in Congress. We have many smart people in the Senate and House, but they have given up on their sworn duty to stand up for constitutional government. Senators Risch and Crapo stand by mute while the President attacks our elections, fails to develop and employ a strategy to contain the coronavirus and plays footsie with extremists.

It is probably just craven cowardice, but is does make them look stupid. Maybe Rollins had it right.
 

Turning the corner?

jones

From the very start of the pandemic, Donald Trump has prioritized the health of the stock markets over the health of the American people. His strategy for re-election has been to downplay the coronavirus threat, disparage preventive measures like masks and social distancing, push for immediate re-opening of schools and the economy, and hope that the illusion of economic well-being lasts until the votes are cast.

Trump claimed for months that he did not know how deadly or highly contagious the coronavirus was. On September 9, these claims were exposed as lies by reporter Bob Woodward, who produced tape recordings to back up his report that Trump was briefed on the deadly threat of the coronavirus by national security adviser Robert O’Brian on January 28. Trump has deliberately played down the virus threat from that time to the present.

Trump said he played down the danger of the coronavirus so as not “to create a panic,” even though he has tried to create panic among voters on a range of other issues--immigration, crime, Black lives, socialism, you name it. As I pointed out in a March column, Trump’s sole concern was about creating panic in the financial markets, which might endanger his chances of re-election.

Trump failed to take simple measures to protect public health and save lives--universal masking, distancing, robust testing, tracing--as a deliberate strategy to keep from spooking the stock markets. That deliberate strategy has cost tens of thousands of American lives.

America’s Covid-19 death toll is the highest of any country on Earth. We have lost 205,000 precious souls to the virus. With 4.2% of the world population, the U.S. has suffered 22% of the deaths. About 70%-99% of those deaths could have been prevented by the simple protective measures implemented by almost every other country on the globe. Had Trump taken action as soon as he learned of the deadly nature of the virus, at least 143,500 Americans might still be alive. Trump sacrificed those lives for the benefit of his re-election effort and many more will needlessly die as we approach the election.

Trump has continually demanded that businesses and schools fully reopen, regardless of the risks. He has consistently downplayed the risk of sending kids back to their classrooms, going so far as to try to subvert Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for schools.

Trump’s campaign rallies pack maskless people together in close proximity, putting them in danger of infection. He has downplayed the need for robust testing and tracing. At his ABC town hall on September 14, Trump made the outlandish claim that,  “If we wouldn’t do testing, you wouldn’t have cases.”  Trump has denigrated his scientific advisers, tried to politicize the advice given out by federal agencies, pedaled fake cures for the virus and generally caused chaos in the pandemic response.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims that we have “turned the corner” on the pandemic and that the virus will just disappear, the CDC tells us that the pandemic is far from over. Despite that expert assessment, Trump plans to take $300 million from the CDC, which desperately needs the money for the pandemic fight, to run feel-good ads in an attempt to mask his wretched pandemic response.

If Trump had taken immediate steps to combat the virus, he could have saved tens of thousands of American lives, while causing much less economic devastation in the country. Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence’s former coronavirus task force adviser, summed it up this way: Trump displayed  “flat out disregard for human life” in task force meetings because his “main concern was  the economy and his re-election.”The question is, how many more Americans will forfeit their lives for his re-election?

 

Kiss your pre-ex coverage goodbye

jones

Donald Trump has tried repeatedly during the last 4 years to cripple or kill the Affordable Care Act (also called the ACA or Obamacare). He has attempted to repeal the law, both in Congress and in the courts, with limited success so far. If Trump succeeds in appointing a new Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court before January 20, the ACA will likely be killed by the Court.

What is at stake? The ACA prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions. It provides subsidies to millions to lower their premiums, allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, closed the doughnut hole for drugs under Medicare, and expanded Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income people. All of those provisions and many more could be stricken in a case that will be argued in the Supreme Court on November 10.

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to see that the laws are “faithfully executed.” The ACA is the law of the land. Yet, Trump has rejected his Constitutional duty and directed the Justice Department to attack the ACA in the court case. He wants it struck down in its entirety. Four of the Justices, including the two appointed by Trump, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, are hostile to the ACA. The other four, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have supported the ACA. If confirmed, Trump’s new appointee will tip the balance, dooming the ACA.

If Trump’s Justices kill the ACA, about 20 million Americans will lose their health coverage, everyone with a pre-existing medical condition will be at the tender mercies of insurance companies as to whether they can get coverage or how much extra they will have to pay for it, and millions of low-income folks may become ineligible for Medicaid. The benefits available under insurance policies will dwindle. The entire medical system will be thrown into turmoil, and the economy with it.

The timing is certainly unfortunate, being that we are in the midst of a pandemic that has twisted the medical system in knots. Millions of people have lost their jobs, along with their employment-based medical insurance. A Commonwealth Fund survey indicated that 41% of those who lost a job because of the pandemic relied on that job for health coverage and that 20% of them were not able to get other coverage.

Trump continues to promise that he will do all he can, through the courts or otherwise, to destroy the ACA, and it is obvious his best route is through filling Justice Ginburg’s seat with a person hostile to the law. What can we do? I plan to vote for Joe Biden, who has promised to keep and improve the ACA. It is critical that voters across the country vote for a Democrat Senate majority to restore the ACA, should it be struck down by Trump’s Court appointees.

Let’s not be fooled by Trump’s claimed support for protecting those with pre-existing conditions. If he truly supported that protection, he would ask the Supreme Court to spare that existing provision in the ACA. He has not explained how an executive order can do the job--the short answer is that it cannot.

If Trump wins the election, everyone who has a pre-existing condition had best get ready to mortgage their house to cover a recurrence of their illness or get the name of a reputable bankruptcy lawyer.
 

Because they love their country

jones

The revelation that Donald Trump disparaged the 1,811 U.S. Marines who died in the fierce fighting at Belleau Wood in WW1 as “suckers” and “losers” brought out additional accounts of his unfortunate attitude toward those who serve in the U.S. military.

Trump has called airmen who got shot down by enemy forces, including President George H.W. Bush and John McCain, “losers.” A senior administration official said Trump “frequently” disparaged the missing in action, calling them losers. Earlier this year, the POW/MIA flag that had flown over the White House was demoted to a less visible place on the grounds, angering MIA families. During planning for a military parade, Trump told staff not to include amputees because, “Nobody wants to see that.”

Fox News national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, reported that Trump has questioned why people join the military--”What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.” Griffin also reported Trump saying that anyone who served in the Vietnam War was a “sucker.” According to another report, he believed those who served in Vietnam must be “losers” because they had not gotten out of it. Trump has suggested that Vietnam veterans didn’t know how to exploit the system to get out of serving.

Trump’s father was able to get a podiatrist, who was a tenant in one of his buildings, to say that Donald had bone spurs in one or both of his heels to help him escape the draft. Ironically, the theme music at a September 10 Trump rally in Michigan was about rich kids dodging the Vietnam draft.

Some of those subject to the draft tried to take advantage of any available deferment to avoid being drafted, but I doubt there were many who used false medical excuses to get out of doing their part. It was not a matter of being too stupid to get out of service, but of being too honorable to cheat their way out.

As a Vietnam combat veteran, I want to respond to Trump’s misconceptions. The people with whom I served in Vietnam were patriots who loved their country. Many disagreed with the wisdom of the war, but nevertheless they gave their utmost effort to the fight. They did not need a monetary incentive to serve their country. Likewise, the young people who streamed to join the all-volunteer service after 9-11 were motivated by love of country, not love of money.

Many volunteered for Vietnam service, even if they had a valid excuse to get out of it. For instance, I was physically disqualified as a result of an auto accident that mangled my legs, requiring a 14-week hospital stay. Yet, I voluntarily joined the Army and insisted on going to Vietnam. Many others who fought in that war, and the ones since, have similar stories. It is a sense of duty to this great country.

In the 1980s, I collected biographical information for a book, Reasons to Remember, honoring Idaho’s 251 Vietnam War dead and missing. Not one of them was a cheater or loser.

Vietnam vets lived through years of bad publicity. It took years for the American public to recognize that they had stood up for their country and served honorably. They were not losers, suckers or too dumb to cheat their way out of serving. They served because they loved and honored their country, as do the young people who volunteer today. It would be appreciated if the commander in chief could understand that simple fact.
 

Deserving of respect

jones

The desperate battle at Belleau Wood, about 50 miles northeast of Paris, was a major American victory in World War One. After 26 days of savage fighting, a brigade of U.S. Marines helped to stop a major German advance toward Paris. American forces suffered 9,777 casualties, including 1,811 who gave their lives and were laid to rest at the nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

President Trump was slated to attend a ceremony at Belleau Wood to honor those brave souls on November 10, 2018, but cancelled at the last minute due to rain. According to a well-sourced report, Trump said he did not want to get his hair wet. The rain did not keep other officials from attending. Trump reportedly asked senior staff, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” He also referred to the 1,811 Marines who died as “suckers” for getting killed.

The White House has vigorously disputed the report, but it has been confirmed by a number of reputable news organizations, as well as Jennifer Griffin, the national security correspondent of Fox News. Along the same lines, Griffin’s source also told her that when Trump spoke of the Vietnam War he said, ”Anyone who went was a sucker.”

Trump’s claims of being a strong supporter of U.S. service personnel do not withstand critical scrutiny. He admits never confronting Vladimir Putin about Russia’s offer to pay bounties to the Taliban for killing American soldiers. Trump has claimed the intelligence was not credible, a claim supported by Idaho Senator Jim Risch. Secretary of State Pompeo put the lie to their claims when he disclosed on August 12 that he had given a stern warning to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the bounty payments. Pompeo said he told Lavrov, “We won’t brook that; we won’t tolerate that.” Weak intelligence would not justify that kind of warning.

Trump has browbeaten the Afghan government into releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners as part of a so-called peace deal. Included in the release are four Taliban who carried out insider attacks against American troops. One insider, who killed two American officers, was released on May 29. The three others were among 300 high-value prisoners, the last to be released. France and Australia have strongly opposed the release of insiders who killed their troops, but Trump seems to be alright with releasing those who killed Americans.

Trump has pardoned several individuals for war crimes they committed in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is a great propaganda coup for our adversaries. Enemy combatants use it as a powerful tool to recruit others to kill American troops. It undermines our mission to gain the confidence and support of civilian populations in the war zones, and tarnishes our moral standing across the wider world. It was a devastating blow to soldiers who faithfully obeyed the laws of war and came forward to testify against the criminals, who include Edward Gallagher and Clint Lorance.

Trump was apparently unaware of the popularity of Stars and Stripes newspaper, which is an independent source of news for our troops. He eliminated funding for the paper in his FY21 budget and had the Pentagon issue orders to close it down in September, despite the fact that Congress was on track to restore the funding. I suspect he was angry that the paper did not toe the party line, as he saw it. The immediate and angry outcry from every part of the political spectrum caused Trump to do a swift about face.

The active duty military has sensed Trump’s disdain for the concept of service over self. Consequently, his support in the ranks has been rapidly diminishing. A recent Military Times poll showed Trump running behind Biden 37.4% to 41.3%. Four years ago, Trump led Clinton 54% to 25%. If Trump does not interfere with the right of service personnel to vote by mail, he’ll likely get an unhappy message from the troops on November 3.

Jim Jones volunteered for combat service in Vietnam (July 1968--August 1969).
 

Following the herd

jones

America’s haphazard pandemic response has produced worse results than almost every other nation on Earth, even the poorest third-world countries. After flailing around for the last 6 months, searching for an easy fix that would ensure his re-election, the President appears now to favor the “herd immunity” concept of socialist Sweden. Who would have thought?

Right from the start, we leapt out ahead of every other country in numbers of infections and deaths and have steadily held that lead ever since. With 4.2% of the Earth’s population, we have 24% of the reported world infections and 22% of the deaths.

Our August 30 death toll of 187,194 souls dwarfs that of all other nations, including those in the immediate vicinity of China where the pandemic began. The present reported Japanese death toll is 1,264. In Taiwan it is 7, South Korea 323, Myanmar 6 and Vietnam 32. The combined population of those five countries is 22 million more than the U.S. and they have a combined total of 1,632 deaths to this point in the pandemic. We have experienced an average of 1,189 deaths each day since March 30. Reputable epidemiologists have found that we could have prevented 70% to 99% of those deaths by taking the same actions as almost every other country in the world.

What sets the United States apart from the other nations is indecision and political meddling in the coronavirus response. The President did not take the virus seriously until the mid-March stock market crash. He failed to implement a nationwide strategy, foisting the heavy lifting on our 50 states, each to sink or swim on its own.

Trump has derided masks, disregarding scientific evidence of their critical importance in keeping the virus from spreading. His hot and cold messaging on protective measures has given rise to heated division throughout the country. His refusal to follow the advice of epidemiologists has prolonged any chance of achieving the success other countries have had in minimizing infections and deaths.

Instead of promoting proven ways of fighting the virus--masking, distancing, testing, tracing--Trump hypes miracle cures. The virus will miraculously disappear, injecting disinfectants, shining bright lights in bodily orifices, taking hydroxychloroquine. His latest fake cure is oleandrin, an extract from a poisonous plant, which he hyped at the White House with the My Pillow guy. This type of behavior is dangerous and destructive.

Trump is letting political considerations disrupt efforts to control the virus--”grossly misrepresenting” the effectiveness of convalescent plasma, retweeting a conspiracy theory that the Covid-19 death toll is really only 9,000, forcing the CDC to change testing guidelines for those without symptoms, continually questioning the need for testing, falsely claiming FDA is slow-walking Covid-19 vaccines, belittling and muzzling Dr. Fauci. All of this misconduct is directed toward getting the economy stoked up again to help Trump’s re-election chances, regardless of the cost in American lives.

Trump’s latest gambit is to move toward the “herd immunity” strategy of socialist Sweden. That is, to fully open up schools and businesses and let the virus run its course until a vaccine is available. It has been a disaster in Sweden and would only make our situation much worse. The cost in lives would likely be in the millions, but a reckless reopening of the country might save Trump’s political bacon. The real damage would occur after November 3.
 

The 19th Amendment to the rescue

jones

Who could have guessed that the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, would come to the rescue of the American republic 100 years after its ratification? Could Benjamin Franklin have had an inkling that women would eventually gain the vote when he spoke with Mrs. Elizabeth Powel upon the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787?

As Franklin was leaving Independence Hall, Mrs. Powel asked him, “What have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” His reply was perhaps prophetic. He said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” The learned gentlemen who wrote the Constitution had failed to provide women the franchise, apparently assuming it was reserved for male property owners. For Franklin to tell a woman that it was her job to keep the republic, even though she could not vote, was rather odd. But perhaps Franklin believed the country would correct that failure at some time in the future.

That time came 133 years later on August 18, 1920, when Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee House, heeded his mother’s plea to be “a good boy” and cast the deciding vote to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. It then became the law of the land, although it must be mentioned that Idaho women had obtained the right to vote in 1896.

Burn could not have known in 1920 how critical his vote would be to the preservation of the republic 100 years later in 2020. In an historic turnout, fueled in large part by female voters, Donald Trump will be swept from office.

First, women have voted in larger numbers than men in recent years. In the 2016 presidential election, women outvoted men by 10 million votes. The 2018 election produced slightly more than 8 million more votes by women than men.

Second, women have increasingly favored Democrat candidates as the Republican Party has continued to drift to the right. Women favored Obama over Romney by 11 percentage points in 2012 (55% to 44%) and Clinton over Trump by 13 points in 2016 (54% to 41%). In the 2018 midterm elections, they favored Democrat Congressional candidates by 19 points (59% to 40%).

Trump prevailed in the 2016 election because of the geographic distribution of the female vote under the Electoral College setup and an 11-point advantage in the male vote. However, that will likely change in the 2020 election because of a decrease in Trump support by both sexes, according to recent polling. For instance, an early June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed Trump down 21 points among female voters (56% to 35%), with an 8-point advantage among males (50% to 42%).

There are likely a variety of issues that have caused the erosion of support for Trump by women voters but it is likely that public health concerns play a major part. An interesting article by Nick Kristof notes that female-led counties have suffered one-fifth as many coronavirus-related deaths as male-led countries, including the U.S. It is attributed to “low-key, inclusive and evidence-based leadership” by women, as opposed to “a lot of male ego and bluster” where things have gone wrong under male leaders in the U.S., Brazil, Russia and the U.K.

These female leaders reflect the approach of women voters. A Stanford health expert cited by Kristof “found that as states, one by one, granted the vote to women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, those states also invested more in sanitation and public health.” Beating back the pandemic will save lives, allow kids to safely return to school, reduce unemployment and restore the economy to health. Women understand that and, thanks to the Nineteenth Amendment, will save our republic in November.
 

Supreme Court litmus test

jones

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has come up with a keen idea for stacking the deck at the U.S. Supreme Court -- he’ll refuse to vote for a Court nominee who has not taken a firm stand in favor of his specific pet policy position.

In a recent Washington Post interview, Hawley announced that he would “vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.” He continued: “If there is no indication in their record that at any time they have acknowledged that Roe was wrong at the time it was decided, then I’m not going to vote for them -- and I don’t care who nominates them.” He’ll show them!

My first thought was that he ought to check with a lawyer to see how his stance might square with professional ethics constraints applicable to lawyers and judges. I was dismayed to discover that he is a lawyer, a graduate of Yale Law School.

Hawley did say that he was “not looking for forecasts about how they may vote in the future or predictions.” Whew! At least he did not want to extract a blood oath to support his viewpoint on the issue, just to get certainty as to how they would vote.

I’ve been in the legal profession since 1967 -- U.S. Senate staffer (1970-1973), Idaho Attorney General (1983-1991), Idaho Supreme Court Justice (2005-2017), private practitioner for 28 years -- and never once had the need to make a record of whether I thought Roe was right or wrong at the time it was decided. From a practical standpoint, the universe of candidates who meet Hawley’s narrow litmus test is likely to be infinitesimal. Although, if Hawley’s idea catches on, we might see scads of young lawyers penning law review articles and op-eds designed to meet his appointment criteria.

The really troubling aspect of Hawley’s position is how it would further inflame the appointment process and impugn the integrity of the Supreme Court. If Hawley is using Roe as his sole criteria for seating a SCOTUS nominee, I suppose other Senators would be emboldened to impose their own narrow litmus tests -- Citizens United (campaign finance), Heller (gun rights), Brown v. Board (racial discrimination).

The Supreme Court is already considered by most Americans to be a political policy-making body with little accountability. Hawley’s gambit would further erode the Court’s legitimacy and endanger the rule of law in the United States.

As it is, every vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court sets off a political feeding frenzy in Washington and throughout the country. It is as if a new appointee is intended to be a super legislator, rather than an impartial arbiter of disputes between and among citizens and the government. The whole process is infused with political overtones. And it happens regardless of which party is in power.

Presidents nominate people whose political views align with their own on selected hot-button issues, disregarding the fact that the Court is expected to deal with a much broader range of issues. The tendency is to appoint younger people, without an identifiable track record, who can serve into their dotage, disregarding the fact that this excludes a large number of older, experienced lawyers with exemplary legal careers. The Senate confirmation process is a legal travesty that often produces untested ideologues rather than accomplished jurists.

The public increasingly views the Supreme Court as a mere extension of our dysfunctional political system and that is dangerous for our democracy. The last thing we need is a new type of litmus test on steroids like that advocated by Senator Hawley. There must certainly be other, less harmful ways for him to pander for political points with his constituency.

Jim Jones is a Vietnam combat veteran, former Idaho Attorney General and retired Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court.

[This opinion piece originally appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on 8-18-20.]
 

Stand up for the USPS

joneslogo1

The Post Office has been one of the most useful and revered agencies of government from the very founding of the United States. It helped to bring us together as a nation by facilitating communication and commerce from coast to coast. The institution of rural free delivery in 1896 ensured that rural Americans would be included in the growth of the nation’s prosperity.

Until 1971, postal operations were run by a Cabinet appointee, which allowed for political influence to enter into management of the mail. The U.S. Postal Service was set as an independent agency in 1971 to remove mail handling from the political arena. Since that time the system has been run in a cost-effective, non-partisan manner, earning the respect of its customers and the wider world.

Because of the friendly, efficient service they receive from the Postal Service, Americans rate it as their favorite government agency. The agency received a 91% favorability rating in a recent poll. It would be an obvious winner of any if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it award. Unfortunately, the 9% of people in the country who don’t love the Postal Service include Donald Trump, who has repeatedly villainized the Service since taking office.

Trump saw an opportunity to advance his vendetta against the Postal Service after he declared the coronavirus emergency in mid-March. The shutdown had a severe impact on postal operations, requiring an infusion of federal funds. Trump has strenuously opposed funding to shore up mail delivery. Democrats were able to get him to agree to loan the Service $10 billion as part of the CARES Act, but he has not yet released those funds.

Trump was able to get a political hack with no postal experience installed as head of the Postal Service in June and politics has since come rushing back into its operations. Trump has used the desperate funding needs of the Postal Service as a cudgel to fight his obsessive battle against mail-in voting. His captive Postmaster General has backed him up at every turn. We’ve recently learned that he’s been removing mail collection boxes, shutting down high-speed mail processors, substantially slowing down mail delivery and warning voters in 46 states that their mail-in ballots may not arrive in time to be counted. What next—misdirecting or losing ballots mailed from Democrat-leaning zip codes?

On August 13, Trump referenced Democrats’ efforts to obtain stimulus funding of $25 billion for postal operations in an overall stimulus package deal of between one and three trillion dollars.

He said, “If we don’t make a deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.” In other words, Trump refused to agree to a new stimulus package for the economy because he does not want to help the Postal Service nor to facilitate mail-in voting. Funds to help jobless Americans, to prevent evictions, to help struggling state and local governments cope with the pandemic, and to fund efforts by schools to safely open, are being held hostage by Trump because of his vendetta against the Postal Service and mail-in voting.

Slowing the mail hurts all postal customers, not just the 2% of volume that might be generated by increased mail-in balloting. Checks for the elderly, unemployed, disabled veterans, and many others are arriving late, as are critical, health-sustaining drugs. Rural customers, who regard the postal system as a lifeline, are disproportionately affected. Former Navy Admiral William McRaven, who orchestrated the takedown of Osama Bin Laden, warns that Trump’s undermining of the Postal Service and mail-in voting is a threat to American democracy.

The time is now for Idaho’s Senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, to stand up for the integrity of our Postal Service and for our very democracy.