With the most recent developments in Postmaster Louis DeJoy's U.S. Postal Service, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to understand the effect of dismantling sorting machines and reducing letter capacity by millions of pieces per hour just in time for the elections. When he became postmaster general, CNN reports, DeJoy owned an equity stake of between $30 million and $75 million in XPO Logistics, DeJoy's former company and a USPS contractor. He also held large investments in Amazon stock that he divested upon becoming postmaster. But, CNN notes, he then purchased between $50,000 and $100,000 in Amazon stock options.
DeJoy's potential conflicts of interest and his subsequent tinkering with the USPS represent the ultimate disloyalty to an institution that's been essential to our democracy. These efforts fail America at a time when mail-in ballots are imperative. Let me illustrate:
John Q. Public: "I hate to interrupt our visit, but could you please excuse me for a moment. I need to go call my bookie, 'cause there's a big race this weekend at the Downs. He's the best bookie a guy could have, and he's hardly ever steered me wrong. You can count on him; he'll always deliver."
(Sound of dialing)
Louie "the Postman" DeGioia:"Louie 'the Postman' here, what can I do for you?"
JQP: "Hey, Louie, it's me—John Q. Public—and I'm hoping to pick a winner for this week's race. I'm particularly interested to hear your recommendation on the colt, ElectoralFreedom. What are the odds?"
Louie the Postman:"Well, he's won almost every race since he was a 2-year-old, so I'd have to say that, historically, he's in a very strong position. As you know, he's the winning-est horse ever born, and he's never, ever not finished strong."
JQP: "So you're telling me ElectoralFreedom really is a sure bet?"
Louie:"Well, not exactly. You see, I have a little inside information, and unfortunately, this time, I can say he's actually not a safe bet. I know you love his record, but, if I were you, I'd put my money on "UPS 'n' Downs" or "ExFed." It might look like a conflict of interest, since my position, as your bookie, is really to just do the math and come up with honest odds. But I'm gonna level with you; I have invested in the syndicate that owns those other horses, and I think they'll both run stronger than ElectoralFreedom."
JQP: "Whaddaya mean? Isn't ElectoralFreedom the best 244-year-old at the starting gate?"
Louie: "Hate to say this, John Q., but ElectoralFreedom hasn't been feeling too well. There's even a question on whether he'll be able to start in Sunday's race."
JQP: "Why? What happened?"
Louie:"Oh, his trainer says he sustained some injuries overnight in his stall."
JQP: "You're kidding! You're telling me that a horse that's watched-over like the proverbial family jewels just turned up injured after a good night's rest?"
Louie:"Essentially, yes. That's the situation to a tee. It's pretty strange, because these racehorses are coddled and so carefully attended to. But, you also realize, accidents do happen, and, unless there's some miracle veterinarian hanging out at the stable, he's going to have a really slow day. He's lucky just to be alive."
JQP: "Louie, you haven't answered my question. What's the problem?"
Louie:"Apparently ElectoralFreedom was feeling a bit depressed and tried to commit suicide last night. The owners and vets are there right now, and they're doing their best to stabilize him."
JQP: "Oh, my God; You've got to be kidding me—a suicidal horse. I knew that lots of people suffer from such maladies—but a horse? I'd have never believed it."
Louie: "Yes, it seems that he took a sledge hammer to his right front knee, broke several vertebrae in his neck trying to reach the grain bin through the bars on his stall, shot himself in the foot with a borrowed Glock and received a genital injury trying to mount a mare stabled in the stall next door."
JQP: "Oh, no! I'm speechless; That's awful."
Louie: "You know, John Q., I'm a believer in that horse, and if any horse can do it, after what he's been through, he'll finish strong. He's been slowed before, but he's always come through. Yes, despite his injuries and the amputation, I think he'll actually do fine."
JQP: (gasping) "Amputation! You hadn't mentioned that before. What's this about an amputation?"
Louie: "Well, nobody's really sure about how, but ElectoralFreedom somehow amputated his own left hind leg. But that horse is all heart, and, believe it or not, he's getting around pretty well, considering."
JQP: (gasping again) "You have to be kidding. Is this some kind of a sick joke, Louie? This just can't be; tell me it's not really true."
Louie:"I'm afraid it's all true, John. And yet, after all these years of stoic determination, I feel sure that he'll still run a good race. You know his motto—about how neither rain nor sleet can stop him. He's been a winner from the start, and, no matter what, he'll always finish. But, since I am your friend and I've never steered you wrong, I think you'd be better off betting on Trumped-Up Charges. I won't lie to you; I'm putting my money where my mouth is."
The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.