Friday, November 19, 2021

Fixing USPS will be slow, but Biden is probably going as fast as he can

I know a lot of people who have been frustrated that almost one year into Biden's term, Louis DeJoy is still postmaster general. The problem is that the USPS's governing structure is designed to give it some independence from whoever happens to hold the presidency. And that is good! DeJoy's postal "reforms" were always part of the Trump agenda, but because of the procedural hurdles to changing policy, they weren't able to get a majority on the USPS Governing Board and install DeJoy as postmaster general until June 2020 (in the last six months of Trump's term),. Even then DeJoy wasn't able to institute his plan to ruin the USPS until October 2021, almost five years after Trump won the presidency in November 2016. Bureaucracy is frustrating, but in that case it protected USPS from a destructive conflicts-ridden postmaster general for almost all of Trump's term, and then prevented Trump's troll from doing major damage until after Trump was already out of office.

Of course now that Biden is in office, those same institutional barriers that made change slow for Trump are now slowing down Biden too. But in comparison, Biden is making a lot faster progress. He got three members of the USPS Board of Governors confirmed just 4 months into Biden's term, giving Democrats a majority on the USPS Board. Unfortunately, one of the Democrats that Trump appointed, Ronald Bloom, still supported DeJoy so there were not enough votes to fire DeJoy and reverse his changes before DeJoy put them into effect on October 1, 2021.

Luckily, Ron Bloom's term expires next month. After 77 public interest groups urged Biden not to reappoint Bloom, Biden is expected to announce today that he will nominate someone else for the Bloom seat. Plus the term of another USPS Board of Governors member, Republican John Barger, also expires next month. So Biden should be able to nominate two new members to the Board, making an easy vote to get rid of DeJoy.

Of course, those two new members need to be formally nominated and confirmed by the Senate first. It is still going to be a slow process. But DeJoy should be gone by mid-2022, which would be less than a year after his disastrous postal reforms went into effect. That counts as record time given the bureaucratic realities in my book.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Stamp twice today!

Second Stamp Day is the least appreciated of all the official Rubber Hose Holidays.

For history buffs: The Original Day2011201220142015201620172019, 2020

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The EU has an easy out of the Belarus border crisis

The best move the EU can do to resolve this crisis is to just let in all 4,000 refugees. They could then be resettle them across Europe, and the EU could broadcast images of refugees living a better life than most people are in Belarus.

As easy as that choice seems to be, it will never happen. The EU (and the European voting public) is too anti-immigrant to tolerate something like that. But 4,000 people is drop in the bucket of a union with a population of 447 million. Admitting them would have no effect on employment or the overall economy. And for Europeans who just think foreigners are icky, they can rest assured that almost all of them will never even encounter any of the refugees if they were let in. But the fact that there is almost zero cost to the EU by admitting the refugees and it would give an enormous propaganda victory to the Union that would almost certainly get Lukashenko to stop piling refugees at the border, doesn't matter. This crisis is  caused as much by the EU's bigotry as it is by Lukashenko's border shenanagans.


Monday, November 08, 2021

What was the right answer?

The key fact missing from this article about the quiz:
On Monday, WGNO reported that a Sacramento-area school district is under fire for a strange multiple-choice question on a history quiz asking students to identify "a group of complete idiots."

"Whitney High School, located in the Sacramento suburb of Rocklin, released a statement Saturday saying it would investigate the quiz," reported Connor Malone and Gurajpal Sangha. "The question supposedly asked respondents to identify 'a group of complete idiots.' The options shown were the 'KKK,' 'all of Florida,' 'FOX news,' and 'Texans.'"

Thursday, November 04, 2021

All post-election spin is stupid but some completely plausible spins never get spun

When Democrats don't do well in an election why are all the post-mortem stories the same every time? It's always about how the Democrats need to cater more to moderates and blah blah blah. Republicans didn't cater to their moderates when they lost last year. They chased, and are still chasing, their moderates (to the extent there are still any left) out of the party! Why isn't anyone saying that the fact that Republicans won so many upsets this week by ignoring moderates suggests that Democrats would win if they do the same thing?

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

still alive

Hey sorry for neglecting the blog these past few weeks. The funny thing is that I got COVID (it ended up being a mild breakthrough case), but I first got sick on October 12, so as you can see below it didn't really interrupt my posting although I didn't mention I was ill at that time.

Actually the worst part of my COVID experience was having to isolate myself for 10 days following the appearance of my symptoms. Being confined alone in my bedroom for a whole week when I was feeling fine was pretty rough. If anything explains my lack of posting since I got out of COVID jail, it's all the catch-up work I had to do after I finally got out.

But part of it might have just been my mood. I don't ever post here unless I feel like it. At one point early in this blog's existence I got the idea that I should post every day. But that just meant I would put up stuff for no good reason and was often just a rehashing of something I saw elsewhere. I don't see any point in doing that so my urge to post every day dissipated pretty fast. Nowadays I don't feel the urge to post stuff here unless I don't see anyone else saying what I'm thinking. Sometimes I just don't have an original thought for a while.

In any case, posting should return to whatever passes as normal here soon. Or maybe not. Everyone should keep clicking on this blog anyway though. Inflate my visitor stats even if I'm not doing anything to deserve it!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Why does the U.S. still have soldiers in Syria?


I realize once the U.S. commits to a troop deployment, its really hard to end it. That seems to be because of political pressure or perceived pressure (no one wants to seem like they've "lost" and pulling out soldiers looks like a loss), but also because the military always resists removing U.S. forces from anywhere once they are there.

Why is that? Is their budget tied to a particular deployment and people within the military are trying to protect their own budgetary fiefdom? Do people just get psychologically attached to the status quo? Keeping soldiers supplied and rotating in and out in a faraway and mostly hostile country is a logistical challenge, one that the U.S. military is really good at meeting, but still wouldn't it be easier just to wind things down when the original purpose for the deployment is over?