Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Rocky Road To Republican Redemption

Hawaii Democrat (and former Republican) Beth Fukumoto explains her journey from the GOP to the Democratic Party, and unlike 99% of Never Trump Republicans, she actually is doing what it takes to earn a second chance.

I rehearsed the words over and over from the back of the black sedan, hired to take me from my red-eye flight to an event at the Republican National Committee headquarters: “We are committed to electing candidates who reflect the full diversity of our nation.”

It was June 2013. I had come from my home state to D.C., to do one job — announce a $6 million investment from the Republican Party to support candidates of color and women running at the state level.

This initiative was one of many meant to change the course of the GOP following its defeat in the 2012 presidential campaign and the subsequent release of its what-went-wrong report, known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project.”

Without a more inclusive message, better representation, less ideological rigidity, and compassionate immigration and economic policies, the report warned, Republicans would continue to lose national elections. It described a party I wanted to help build.

Over the next year, I recruited people to a party that promised diversity, dialogue and the chance to reimagine its foundation. I wanted a government that would be responsible with its power and judicious in its interventions, a leveler when our systems became unbalanced.

Instead, that party nominated a president who sends federal forces to tame American cities yet refuses to use the power of his office to coordinate an effective response to the novel coronavirus.

There are only so many ways to say, “I was wrong.” I’ve exhausted them all.

As the Republican leader in the Hawaii House, I made compromises that I regret. I spoke out when our presidential candidate said he might have supported Japanese American internment, but I couldn’t find the courage to question the implementation of voter identification laws that I should have understood weren’t designed to protect voters.

I made decisions out of political expediency, or hubris, or naivete. Republicans offered an inclusive vision of “Growth and Opportunity” for all; then we elected a man that didn’t even bother to fake it. I couldn’t make it right. I declined to endorse him and criticized his policies. Then, when he won, I continued to disagree with him in public, and my Republican colleagues said they would strip me of my leadership position unless I promised to stop speaking against him. So, I resigned from the party. A few months later, I joined the Democratic Party.

I drew my red line too late. I’ll answer for my choices publicly and privately for years to come. But admitting your mistakes is one of the best ways to keep from repeating them

Fukumoto switched parties and was deservedly mauled in the primaries in 2018, coming in a distant 5th for the seat won by current HI-1 Democratic Rep Ed Case. She paid for her crimes with her career. She asked Hawaiian voters to give her a chance to redeem herself as a Democrat, and they told her to go straight to the nearest volcano and take a swan dive.

But at least Fukumoto, unlike 99.99% of Never Trump Republicans, isn't asking for absolution or even forgiveness. She deserves neither and has resigned herself correctly to the fact that she'll never receive either one.

Don't feel sorry for her, she's got a nice job at Harvard as a Kennedy School fellow. She's better off than the vast majority of Hawaii right now.  The point is, she correctly tried to earn a path to redemption, and was rightfully denied it.  She accepted it, and moved on, warning the remaining Republicans a similar fate awaits them this fall and in the years ahead.

I wish her well, actually.  But she can never be part of our political process like she was, and has lost the right to do so. She failed her constituents totally. She has to live with that, but so do her constituents. They are the ones we should reserve our empathy for. Not Beth Fukumoto.

We will not forgive. We will certainly not forget.

Stamp Of Disapproval

Democrats are taking aim at the Trump regime's new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and businessman who is doing everything in his power to sabotage the US Postal Service so Americans turn against it and it can be destroyed and privatized, not to mention that DeJoy is trying assure the disenfranchisement of possibly tens of millions of voters who will attempt cast their ballot by mail this year.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s mail service, displacing the two top executives overseeing day-to-day operations, according to a reorganization memo released Friday. The shake-up came as congressional Democrats called for an investigation of DeJoy and the cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy, a former logistics executive and major ally of President Trump, and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge. All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring, with five more staffers joining the leadership from other roles.

The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays — the Postal Service banned employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail — and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and November’s election draws near.

It also adds another layer to DeJoy’s disputes with Democratic leaders, who have pushed him to rescind the cost-cutting directives that have caused days-long backlogs and steady the Postal Service in the run-up to the election. DeJoy clashed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a meeting on the issue earlier this week.

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House subcommittee responsible for postal oversight, called the reorganization “a deliberate sabotage” to the nation’s mail service and a “Trojan Horse.”

David E. Williams, formerly chief operating officer and executive vice president, will take the role of chief logistics and processing operations officer, a new position for a trusted adviser to former postmaster general Megan Brennan and members of the agency’s governing board. A new organizational chart also gives Williams the title “executive vice president,” though that role was not included in the internal restructuring announcement obtained by The Washington Post. The Postal Service’s Kevin L. McAdams, the vice president of delivery and retail operations and a 40-year USPS veteran, was not listed on the chart.
It’s not clear what the impact of all the changes will be. DeJoy wrote in an internal memo to employees obtained by The Post that the new structure would create “clear lines of authority and accountability,” but others are more skeptical. The USPS publicly released a shorter description of the changes that did not include DeJoy’s remarks to postal workers. The agency declined to comment further on the staffing changes.

“One of the things that’s led to a lot of head scratching is how some of these folks have been reassigned. We’re not sure he put the right players in the right spots, but maybe he sees something we don’t,” said one person with deep knowledge of the leadership team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a candid assessment. “We’re all going to wait and see and hope he’s done the right things, but who knows? It looks as if most of the people we’ve all worked with for years and years are still there, just moved around.”

The Postal Service will implement a hiring freeze, according to the reorganization announcement, and will ask for voluntary early retirements. It also will realign into three “operating units” — retail and delivery, logistics and processing, and commerce and business solutions — and scale down from seven regions to four.

DeJoy is destroying the Postal Service so it can be replaced, and that Americans are forced to pay two to three times more for postage.  Why does Trump hate the Postal Service so much? Like most Republican politicians, Trump can't stand the idea of government that actually works.

For years, the USPS has been the most popular government agency in the United States. According to a Pew Research Center study released in April, 91 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Postal Service, and roughly the same percentage of Americans want to bail out the agency. Similarly, countless companies that do business with the Postal Service are fans. Online retailers, including Amazon, even spent millions of dollars on an ad campaign begging lawmakers to save the Postal Service.

These facts leave us with a very curious situation. The Postal Service is seriously struggling, but it’s never been more important. It’s critical to get prescriptions to the homes of people during a pandemic and to deliver ballots to state election boards. It’s even prized by huge corporations like Amazon, who could easily give their money to a competing private company but would rather work with Postal Service. At the same time, President Trump seems to disdain the agency, and the new postmaster general seems to be doing more harm than good.

The upshot of it all is that the USPS has survived difficult moments in the past. The agency can trace its roots back to the days of the American Revolution. Two and a half centuries later, mail service has never been more essential. If anything, a crisis like this could serve to remind the country how much it needs the Postal Service, despite what a handful of powerful people might believe.

Trump is taking advantage of the chaos of 2020 to wreck the Postal Service, a long-term goal of the GOP.  He wants to punish states that conduct safe and effective voting-by-mail with a postal system that's too broken to do the job correctly, and force states to end the practice for all but rich Republicans.

Turning voting-by-mail into a postal poll tax was always the plan.  Ending vote-by-mail for 99% of America is the goal.

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

As the US surpasses 160,000 COVID-19 deaths, a new study from the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, operated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, finds that the US could reach 300,000 dead by December 1.

Researchers behind an influential model are projecting that the US death toll from coronavirus could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 -- but that can be changed if Americans consistently wear masks. 
According to Johns Hopkins University, 159,990 people have died in the United States since the pandemic began. 
"The US forecast totals 295,011 deaths by December," the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation statement says. 
The model doesn't have to come true, said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray: "The public's behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths. 
The statement said that if 95% of the people in the US wear face coverings, the number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, and more than 66,000 lives could be saved.
Murray told CNN his group looks at studies on the effects of mask use and the best estimate is they can cut spread by 40%. 
"You get this really huge effect that accumulates over time," he told Anderson Cooper, "because every individual that is wearing the mask is putting the brakes on transmission by 40%. That starts to add up." 
The model comes the same day the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an ensemble forecast that projects 181,031 deaths by August 29. 
"State-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Hawaii and Puerto Rico and may decrease in Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and the Virgin Islands." the CDC says on its forecasting website. 
The forecast relies on 24 individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers.

Again, the biggest single factor in preventing deaths would be a national mask mandate, and that will never happen as long as Republicans are in charge.  We're looking at a third of a million deaths by the end of 2020, meaning COVID-19 would be the third leading cause of death in the US this year, behind only heart disease and cancer.

But we'd have to start now, and Donald Trump will simply never allow that to happen, so tens of thousands of Americans will die as the flu season ramps us this fall and COVID becomes even more rampant, overwhelming hospitals and clinics and people die from secondary knock-on effects.

As many people are going to die as Trump allows.
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