Lately I’ve seen two or three United States Postal Service trucks on the street that seem to have been manufactured in this century — shiny, white vans that look brand new. Quite a contrast to the ubiquitous Grumman Long Life Vehicle, or LLV, that we usually see. The Postal Service bought those LLVs between 1987 and 1994, which means that the oldest ones are 33, which is far beyond their projected lifespan. No wonder they’ve gained a reputation for inconveniently bursting into flames.
But that’s not the only problem the ramshackle USPS is facing these days. One could easily get the impression that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was hired not to run it, but to destroy it. So far in his short tenure, DeJoy, a big-bucks GOP fundraiser and Trump donor, has come under fire for changes that have resulted in nationwide mail delays, according to Forbes magazine. One recent poll showed that 53 percent of the public believe the mail has slowed down on his watch.
He has removed mail processing equipment and mail collection boxes, causing widespread criticism that this has slowed the flow of mail — at a time when millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail in the coming election because of fear of contracting COVID-19 if they go to their regular polling place. He has said that the equipment will not be reinstalled.
Which meshes well with his boss’s continuing campaign of denigrating mail-in voting and claiming — without evidence — that there will be massive fraud. Again, without evidence. (If President Trump says it, it must be true.) Mr. Trump has gone so far as to tell voters to vote twice — which is a felony — in order to “test” the system. Maybe it’s not a crime to encourage people to commit a crime, but it sure as hell is wrong.
What’s really going on, of course, is that Mr. Trump (see — even though I have no use for the guy and consider him the worst president in modern history, I grant him a “Mr.” because he does, regrettably, hold the office) knows he’s in trouble and is trying to both suppress the vote and engineer an excuse in case he loses.
By the way, he still has not stated that he will accept the Election Day results. Will he actually leave the White House on Jan. 20 if he loses? I’m not so sure. Will federal agents have to take time off from tear-gassing demonstrators to drag him out of there in shackles? Good question.
Last week I ran a column about Hurricane Carol, in 1954, which I like to run again every August. When I sent a copy to my friend June, who turned 95 in June, she wrote back with a few memories of the Great Hurricane of 1938, which was before such storms even had names.
Hunkering down in their house in Berlin, June wrote, “my visiting auntie and a friend were so terrified by the great falling trees on the Ridge (Worthington Ridge) that they were drinking shots of whiskey and my mother was praying.”
The 1938 hurricane killed more than 600 people and is considered the worst hurricane to strike New England in modern times. Oddly, the name Carol was used for a hurricane that hit New Brunswick in 1953 and again for the one that hit New England the following year, killing at least 68.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.