Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon

Post Office Gilbert Ark
Post Office Gilbert Ark

The Washington Post reports:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery.

Few U.S. companies have drawn Trump’s ire as much as Amazon, which has rapidly grown to be the second-largest U.S. company in terms of market capitalization. For more than three years, Trump has fumed publicly and privately about the giant commerce and services company and its founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post.

Trump’s attacks on Amazon date to 2015, when he accused Bezos of using The Post as a tax shelter to allow Amazon to avoid paying taxes, a false accusation. (Amazon is a publicly traded company, and The Post, wholly owned by Bezos, is private. The companies’ finances are not intermingled. The Post’s editors and Bezos also have declared that he is not involved in any journalistic decisions.)

Bezos responded to Trump’s 2015 attack with a tweet.

“Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace,” Bezos, who owns a space company, tweeted in December 2015.

This angered Trump, who at the time was fighting for credibility during the GOP primary.

(click here to continue reading Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms – The Washington Post.)

It isn’t that Amazon irks Trump, it is that the Washington Post is reporting on Trump’s (mal)administration, and by the transitive property, since Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, and is a majority owner/founder of Amazon, Trump is angry at Amazon. 

Bezos is no saint, the USPS certainly has issues, the Washington Post has published plenty of ignorant or misleading articles over the years, but there is no reason Trump should be foaming at the mouth like this towards a corporation, much less a journalistic institution like the Washington Post.

The Irony of Freedom
The Irony of Freedom

Bill Davies Folly was uploaded to Flickr

Well, maybe folly too strong a word. But he’s owned the Old Chicago Main Post Office on Van Buren for five years, and it can’t be cheap to maintain, pay taxes on, etc.

Latest news is that Sterling Bay has withdrawn from the development.…

embiggen by clicking

I took Bill Davies Folly on April 25, 2014 at 07:29PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 10, 2014 at 02:33AM

Lift Your Skinny Boat Like An Antenna To Heaven was uploaded to Flickr

I was biking so didn’t have my Nikon, but for some reason, there was a boat on a crane over the Van Buren bridge

embiggen by clicking

I took Lift Your Skinny Boat Like An Antenna To Heaven on June 05, 2014 at 08:30PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 06, 2014 at 03:24AM

Red White and Blues was uploaded to Flickr

Randolph Street

embiggen by clicking

I took Red White and Blues on January 11, 2011 at 12:29PM

Republished at Mail Fail-Jet Van Lines

We Deliver For You, Eventually - Ilford HP5+400

My photo was used to illustrate this post

The U.S. Postal Service may be undergoing some serious changes in the face of a rather large deficit. While many take for granted that mail is delivered on time, and can usually complain about the cost of stamps, the Postal Service has been suffering. Just this year the agency posted a $15.9 billion dollar loss. While trying to salvage health care coverage for their many employees the U.S. Postal Service also failed to meet the deadline for reserving $5 billion dollars for this purpose for retired postal workers. Basically, without drastic changes there could be a very real possibility of no Postal Service without a huge helping hand from the government. …Photo credit: swanksalot / Foter / CC BY-SA

click here to view:
Mail Fail? « Jet Van Lines

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Time Wasters In Congress

We Deliver - Just not Saturdays
We Deliver – Just not Saturdays, maybe

Our Congress, hard at work…

In the 18 months the 112th Congress has been sworn in, the House has introduced 60 bills to rename post offices. Thirty-eight have passed the House and 26 have become law. During those 18 months, the House has produced 151 laws, 17 percent of which have been to rename post offices, according to Congressional Democrats. Not a single bill has come to the House floor aimed at reforming a Postal Service, which is bleeding billions of dollars because of Congressional mandates. … USPS claims that if Congress does not act, the mail service will default not only on the $5.5 billion payment due [August 1, 2012], but also on another $5.6 billion payment for future retiree’s benefit due September 30. The Postal Service has pleaded with Congress for years to end the requirement that it pre-fund its retiree’s health benefits. But many lawmakers claim that because USPS has such a massive workforce – there are 614,000 Postal Service employees-if it does not pre-fund retirement benefits, it will not be able to pay them in the future.

And as long as these disagreements persist, it looks like naming post offices is the closest Congress will get to passing postal reform.

(click here to continue reading 60 House Bills to Name Post Offices, Zero To Fix Mail Service – Yahoo! News.)

Mail Acceptance
Mail Acceptance

Paul Ryan is one of those time-wasters:

He’s been in Congress for nearly 13 years, but Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has only seen two of his bills pass into law during that time.

Ryan, who Mitt Romney has tapped as his running mate, passed a bill into law in July 2000 that renames a post office in his district. Thanks to Ryan, the post office on 1818 Milton Ave. in Janesville, Wis., is now known as “Les Aspin Post Office Building.”

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Only Passed 2 Bills Into Law In More Than A Decade.)

I Won't Mind Waiting
I Won’t Mind Waiting

and speaking of wasting time, the Republican mouth-breathers in Congress have also wasted taxpayer money with symbolic votes re: the Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare:

What grave business is the House of Representatives undertaking today? It is voting to do away with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—or, as the name of the bill puts it, on the Repeal of Obamacare Act. The title has a certain appealing conciseness, relative to what some of the other partial or entire repeal bills have been called, like the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act or the Repealing the Job-Killing Health-Care Law Act—Eric Cantor introduced that one, which stands as a true classic of the bill-title genre. (Reuters has a list of more.)

The names have been the bill-sponsors’ only real accomplishment, even though repeals have passed the House again and again—some thirty times, in various forms, since the G.O.P. got its majority, in 2010. Sometimes it’s been been brazen and loud (the NObamacare Act of 2012—isn’t there a ban on legislative names that rely on capitalization tricks?). And sometimes there’s an amendment that comes to Congress, as the saying goes, on little cat feet, attached to a big bill. All the significant ones have died, though, as everyone knew they would, and as today’s will as well, before getting anywhere near Senate passage, let alone the President’s desk. (If he signed it “NObama,” would that count as a veto?) The Republicans have some legislative options—reconciliation, debt-ceiling-collapsing blackmail—but not good ones. So why do they bother?

(click here to continue reading House Votes on the Repeal of Obamacare Act : The New Yorker.)

Good thing the nation is working perfectly with zero problems of any kind that need fixing so that the fools in Congress can play.

Chicago Has The Worst Mail Delivery In The US

Mail Acceptance

My congressman, Danny Davis, when he isn’t busy being a lapdog to Reverend Sun Moon in crazy Moonie ceremonies, is planning to run for mayor of Chicago. I don’t think he’d be a very good mayor, actually. Congressman Davis has been on the awkwardly named standing committee United States House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia for years, even been its Chairman for a while, and Chicago’s mail is still the worst in the nation.

The audit found that first-class mail sent between Chicago ZIP codes made it to the correct address the next day 91 percent of the time. The cities that fared best in the audit had deliver rates of around 97 percent. The audit was for mail delivered between June and September of last year.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who heads a congressional subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, said he has urged officials to do whatever they can to fix the delivery problems in Chicago.

(click to continue reading Chicago Has The Worst Mail Delivery In The US – The Consumerist.)

Doesn’t bode well for Congressman Davis’ ability to improve Chicago’s infrastructure, or be an effective mayor for that matter. When I moved to Chicago in the mid-90s, Chicago mail was a national joke1. Well, fifteen years later, Chicago USPS is still a joke.

  1. remember reading a long article in the New Yorker about it back then, but am too lazy to locate it at the moment []

Urban Flowers

Urban Flowers
Urban Flowers, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

South Loop. Van Buren, probably

Better in Lightbox:…

doorway of the abandoned USPS Chicago HQ…which is still for sale if you’ve got a few million dollars in your piggybank.

USPS Saturday mail delivery

Would it really be the end of the American dream if we didn’t receive mail on Saturday? Would all of our precious bodily fluids be sapped?

Mail Acceptance

Facing a projected $238 billion loss over the next decade, due in part to the rise of the Internet, the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday proposed a 10-year plan to bring it into financial health, including putting an end to Saturday mail delivery.

The Postal Service, which is regulated by Congress and the administration but operates without federal assistance, faces “a severe income gap that we absolutely have to close,” said Postmaster General John Potter.

Such cost-cutting measures have been proposed, and largely ignored, in the past. Last year, post office representatives pushed multiple times at hearings on Capitol Hill for the authority to end Saturday delivery, change the way the service pays out retiree health benefits and raise prices, all actions that require congressional approval.

The Postal Service predicted that first-class mail volume will drop 37 percent by 2020. Bob Bernstock, the agency’s president of mailing and shipping services, said that “creates an urgency that was not there before.” The post office generates about half its revenue from first-class mail.

The service has identified measures within its authority to close the shortfall by about $123 billion over 10 years. It cannot eliminate the remaining $115 billion without being granted the authority to implement additional measures, including ending Saturday delivery, estimated to save $40 billion, Bernstock said.

Other savings would come from personnel changes and price hikes, though the price for a first-class stamp will remain at 44 cents through 2010. Post offices would remain open on Saturdays.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., a member of the subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service in the House, said that the proposal was “heading in the right direction,” but that it is by no means a done deal.

[Click to continue reading Mail service: U.S. Postal Service may end Saturday mail delivery –]

We Deliver - Just not Saturdays

I wouldn’t begrudge not getting mail on Saturday, if mail delivery became more reliable on the other days of the week. From my small sample size, I get misdelivered mail every week, sometimes several pieces at a time1. If I get mail that isn’t addressed to me, then how much of my mail is delivered somewhere else?

Contrary view, USPS mail is dirt cheap, compared to sending a FedEx or UPS envelope. Last time I sent an envelope via FedEx (a signed contract, wanted to be able to track its progress), it cost me over $20. A USPS stamp is only $.44, what other business good or service do you use for less than a dollar?

  1. magazines, envelopes, direct mail, etc. []

Reading Around on September 8th through September 10th

A few interesting links collected September 8th through September 10th:

  • dy/dan » Blog Archive » What I Would Do With This: Groceries

    – “The express lane isn’t faster. The manager backed me up on this one. You attract more people holding fewer total items, but as the data shows above, when you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person! ” I’d add – when I do the mental calculations as to what checkout line to choose, I also add gender and age into the mix (of cashier and customer both)

  • Pchela (Bee) No 5 1906..jpg
  • Post Office Buyer May Not Deliver | NBC Chicago – my photo used by NBC Chicago with a fairly crappy credit link: better than none I guess, but NBC didn’t ask either.
  • Peapod celebrates 20 years :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

    – Thomas Parkinson, co-founder with his brother Andrew of online grocer Peapod 20 years ago, recalls checking customers’ 1200- and 2400-baud modems while he delivered groceries in those early days.

    “There were moments of sweat rolling down my face as I thought I’d messed up someone’s hard drive,” recalled Thomas, Peapod’s chief technology officer. “One woman asked, ‘What do I use this foot pedal for?’ Turned out, it was the mouse.”

    Andrew Parkinson serves as president. The two brothers started Peapod 20 years ago in Evanston with $25,000 they’d raised from friends and family.”

    I find I use Peapod more frequently in the winter months

    William Blake - Ghost of a Flea.jpg

  • Tasty ways to use seasonal tomatoes | Frugal Village – “photo by swanksalot

    If you have an abundance of juicy tomatoes this season, consider yourself lucky to have escaped late blight. For folks not so lucky, I’m sharing recipes that don’t use a ton as the main ingredient but will let you savor every delicious bite.

  • Interview: Wallace Shawn – Chicagoist

    “I suppose I should say that all my roots are all in Chicago,” Wallace Shawn told us. “Both sides of my family. My parents were very identified with being from Chicago, really. My childhood memories of visiting the relatives in Chicago are central to my being. And all sorts of things that some people associate with New York, I associate with Chicago, like going to hear jazz. I went with my uncle to hear Erroll Garner in Chicago.” Shawn is usually thought of as the quintessential New Yorker (in fact his father William was the long-time editor of The New Yorker) but his new book is published by Chicago-based Haymarket Press.

  • Wonk Room » Joe Klein Compares ‘Left-Extremist’ Van Jones To ‘White Supremacist,’ ‘Nazi’ – ”

    Joe Klein, the prominent Time Magazine liberal columnist, has embraced the right-wing

    Hate that Joe Klein aka Joke Line is still called a liberal columnist, even after being a Republican suck-up for twenty years or more.

  • Terror Slaves of the Nile - March 1963.jpg

Bids Start at $300,000 for Chicago’s Old Post Office

United States Post Office Parcel Post Entrance
[address listed as 358 W Harrison St, Chicago, IL, but I always think of it being on the corner of S. Canal and Van Buren – directly north of where Congress turns into the Eisenhower Expressway, aka I-290]

After 13 years of failed redevelopment efforts, the United States Postal Service is giving up and auctioning off its largest vacant property: the hulking 2.7-million-square-foot old central post office here.

The suggested opening bid for the auction is $300,000, which is less than an individual condominium goes for in many of the surrounding downtown buildings.

[Click to continue reading Bids Start at $300,000 for Chicago’s Old Post Office –]

Chicago Central Post Office

[corner of Van Buren and S. Canal]

The building is actually quite a lovely structure, I hope it doesn’t get torn down to have a mixed-use building in its place, or shudder, condos. The article doesn’t mention what property tax on it would be1, but even annual maintenance, utility and security costs are nearly $2,5000,000

The behemoth, which is nine stories tall with 14-story corner towers, is several blocks southwest of the Loop, the downtown central business district. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in a Neoclassical Art Deco style and built in phases from 1921 to 1932. (Graham, Anderson is the firm responsible for Chicago landmarks like the Wrigley Building, the Civic Opera House and Union Station.) The total cost was $22 million.

A peculiarity of the building is that it was built using air rights over railroad tracks that terminate several blocks to the north, at Union Station, and so it has no basement. In addition, the Congress Expressway literally passes through the structure. The two-story-high tunnel carries six lanes of traffic.

I’ve never been inside2, but I want to

“I miss the grandeur of the lobby,” said Musette Henley, who worked in the building in a variety of jobs from 1961 until its closing day and is now a customer relations representative in the new facility. “They don’t build buildings like that anymore.”

The imposing Neoclassical lobby at the north end of the building, which has cream-colored marble walls and an elaborate inlaid marble floor, is certainly a stunner: 340 feet long and 40 feet wide, with a towering 38-foot ceiling.

Chicago Central Post Office North view

[Van Buren side]

couple other photos:
United States Post Office Chicago River view - Agfa Scala

the Chicago River side

United States Post Office East view

  1. astronomical I assume []
  2. other than by watching the Batman movie, The Dark Knight []

Catalogs are a Scourge

I first heard of Catalog Choice’s service in 2007, and between our home, office, and made-up names, I cancelled over 83 catalogs. Amazing really, but direct mail firms subsidize our nation’s cheap postage.

CatalogChoice’s site,, is a free service with close to 1,000 catalogs on file that you can opt out of with one click once you register. … The consumer credit-reporting industry’s Web site,, allows you to eliminate mailed credit-card and insurance offers. If you’re a DIY person, go to the site for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse ( for directions on getting off mail lists.

Caveats: It could take from two to four months for your requests to be processed.

[From Cutting Down on Catalogs –]

About time to cancel another batch: our mail box is getting over-stuffed again.

Here’s what they say about their service:

Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources.

Who we are
Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, the Kendeda Fund, the Weeden Foundation and the Mead Foundation.

Our mission
The mission of Catalog Choice is to reduce the number of repeat and unwanted catalog mailings, and to promote the adoption of sustainable industry best practices. We aim to accomplish this by freely providing the Catalog Choice services to both consumers and businesses. Consumers can indicate their mail preference for catalogs, and businesses can receive the list in a secure manner so that they can efficiently honor the requests.

Help spread the word
The collective positive impact that the Catalog Choice community has on the environment is directly related to the number of people using the service. You can help spread the word, by displaying one of our linked badges on your own website or blog. Just click the color you like best and use the HTML clipping:

[From Catalog Choice – Eliminate unwanted catalogs you receive in the mail]

Well worth the time if you get more than a few unsolicited or unwanted catalogs in your weekly mail.