Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stealth Attack

It was widely believed that such tweets as the following from President Trump were exclusively about Amazon, or at least Jeff Bezos:

Guess again.  As the article begins, this New York Times article appears to be merely a frightening look at the autocratic rule Donald Trump has in mind for the USA if he survives his first term, runs for a second, and is re-elected.  Michael D. Shear of The New York Times reports

President Trump abruptly issued an executive order on Thursday demanding an evaluation of the Postal Service’s finances, asserting the power of his office weeks after accusing Amazon, the online retail giant, of not paying its fair share in postage.

In the executive order, issued just before 9 p.m., Mr. Trump created a task force to examine the service’s “unsustainable financial path” and directed the new panel to “conduct a thorough evaluation of the operations and finances of the U.S.P.S.”

The president does not mention Amazon in the order, but it is clear that he intends for the panel to substantiate his repeated claim that the financial arrangement between the Postal Service and Amazon, its biggest shipper of packages, is a money loser.

In December, Mr. Trump railed against the service on Twitter for being “dumber and poorer” by losing billions of dollars and not “charging MUCH MORE” to Amazon and other shippers. His Twitter attacks date back as far as 2013, when he scoffed at the service for planning to eliminate Saturday mail delivery — “our poor, poor Country,” he wrote — and raising the cost of stamps.

Postal Service experts and even Mr. Trump’s own advisers have privately urged him to back off the accusations, noting that the huge number of packages shipped by Amazon is actually helping to keep the Postal Service financially solvent.

While the service has consistently reported net losses for a decade, much of its financial woes are the result of a prolonged decline in the volume of marketing mail and first-class mail. The service makes money on packages, and Amazon is the service’s biggest single shipper of packages.

But the president has refused to believe those arguments, insisting in a tweet as recently as March 31 that “the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

“That amounts to Billions of Dollars,” he continued.

Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks on Amazon have focused in part on the company’s billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. People close to Mr. Trump have said the president’s tirades against the retailer often come after The Post has published negative articles about him.

President Trump has continued his vendetta against the federal law enforcement agency- the FBI- and against the nation's intelligence agencies. However, he will turn on a dime if re-elected.  No personal or political enemy of the President of the United States of America will be off-limits as a re-elected, unrestrained President marshals the power of the federal government to establish one-man rule.

Trump rails against Jeff Bezos because he owns one of the two greatest daily newspapers in America. But it is more than a hint of what would come in a second term. In a cunning sleight of hand, the President is using his grudge against the free press to divert attention from yet another effort at privatization.  Shear continues

In the order, the president calls on the task force to examine various parts of the Postal Service’s business, including ones that appear to directly involve large parts of Amazon’s business.

That includes the “expansion and pricing” of the package delivery market and the service’s role in competing with other, private delivery companies. The task force should look at the decline in mail volume and the implications for the service, Mr. Trump said.

The order also calls for the task force to look at the service’s “universal service obligation,” which requires the service to deliver to everyone in the United States, given changes in technology and e-commerce.

Some parts of the order appear to hint at further privatization of the Postal Service, indicating that members of the task force should examine “the U.S.P.S. role in the U.S. economy and in rural areas, communities, and small towns.”

Like a Vietnamese village in the war US forces conducted there- or Medicare or Social Security, which Republicans have longed to cut in order to "preserve," "save," or "restructure" for "future generations"- the Postal Service must be destroyed so as to keep it. We learn

In the order, Mr. Trump said that the longstanding financial problems at the Postal Service demand some kind of action.

“A number of factors, including the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the U.S.P.S. to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit,” Mr. Trump says in the order. “The U.S.P.S. is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.”

At the moment, arguably our best hope at maintaining relatively inexpensive first-class mail service is the incompetence of this Administration, for

It is unclear how quickly the task force will be assembled, or when its review might result in changes at the Postal Service that could directly affect Amazon and other shippers.

Early last week, the FBI executed a search warrant upon the home, office, and hotel room of Michael D. "Thug" Cohen, Donald Trump's "fixer." When news broke that the President had ordered a bombing raid on Syria, speculation arose that he had implemented a "wag the dog" strategy by launching the (limited) war to distract attention from the Special Counsel's investigation into his campaign's conspiracy with Russia and related matters.

That may have played a role, though with revelations coming fast and furious, almost any major action by this President could be viewed as a distraction. This includes Donald Trump's preliminary moves against The Washington Post and the U.S. Postal Service, both of which in a second Trump Administration would have a devastating impact upon the country he despises.

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