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Illinois mail handler fired after ignoring Hatch Act to run for Congress- twice

marcuslewisAn Illinois mail handler has been fired after he ignored warnings that his campaigns for partisan political office violated the Hatch Act. Marcus Lewis, who worked at the Carol Stream IL processing plant, ran twice for the seat formerly held by Jesse Jackson Jr- first in the 2012 general election, and again in the 2013 special election that was called after Jackson resigned his office.

Lewis, a Republican, claimed he had no knowledge of the Hatch Act provision that prohibits most federal employees from competing in partisan elections- despite repeated warnings from the USPS and the Justice Department that he needed to choose between withdrawing from the election, or resigning his job. While Lewis ran as an independent, the elections were considered partisan, making them off-limits to federal workers.

In the 2012 general election, Lewis actually got 40,000 votes- but he was far behind both Jackson, and the official GOP candidate, getting just 13.5% of the vote. What little support he had mostly evaporated in the special election, when he recorded just 1,345 votes, or 1.6%, trailing even the Green Party nominee.

Not surprisingly for a failed GOP politician, Lewis has responded to the loss of his postal job by running to Fox News, which has proclaimed him a true folk hero. The network is attempting to compare Lewis’s firing to the suspension handed out to an IRS worker accused of political activities on the job, ignoring the simple fact that the IRS employee admitted that he had violated the law, and accepted his punishment, while Lewis still claims to be above the law. (Fox also conveniently fails to mention that the law Lewis violated is the 2012 update of the Hatch Act, passed by the GOP controlled House).

Lewis may also consider himself above reality- faced, he says, with the need for a job to support his family, he’s decided to- what else?- run for Congress again!

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Anti-gay group refuses mail with Harvey Milk stamp

You probably weren’t wondering about this, but just in case- the rabidly homophobic “American Family Association”, which has called for a boycott of the Harvey Milk stamp, and says it will refuse to accept mail bearing the stamp, is serious about it! From the humor blog Wonkette:

You may recall that we recently challenged you to send the nice folks at the American Patriarchy Association some love in envelopes adorned with Harvey Milk stamps, which they are urging people to boycott because ew, gay. And so Alert Wonkette Operative “TK” sent them a little note, and even a small donation, in an envelope with one of the terrible horrible demon stamps. And back it came!

afa-return-to-sender

Read more: Exclusive: American Family Association Bravely Refuses To Touch Sodomite Postage Stamps Honoring Harvey Milk.

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National Review thinks postal workers should earn less than they did 36 years ago- and be grateful…

The National Review, that bastion of traditional entitled conservatism, founded by the quintessential erudite elitist William F. Buckley, has weighed in on the Stop Staples campaign. The Review thinks that postal workers should be attacking their union rather than USPS management or Staples.

That in itself tells you a lot about the right wing mindset. They have a problem with democracy, and can’t quite grasp the idea that postal workers belong to unions by choice, and they elect the union leadership (or as the right wingers like to call them, “union bosses”). So telling workers to attack their unions is the same as telling them to attack themselves.

Here’s how the Review explains why postal workers should apparently be lobbying to slash their own pay:

Consumers benefit from having more options, and the Postal Service may also save, if a recent internal memo is any indication. The memo estimated that private-sector retailers could offer the same mail services for less than a third the cost, which gives a bracingly clear picture of how inflated mail workers’ pay has become. The memo also added that “the [Staples] pilot will be used to determine if lower costs can be realized with retail partner labor instead of the labor traditionally associated with retail windows at Post Offices.”

So as far as the heirs of Bill Buckley are concerned, postal workers wages are incredibly “inflated”? Really? A level five clerk at top step makes around $52,000 a year. That works out to $25 an hour. I’d love to see the writers at the National Review try to survive on that. Read More

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USPS responds to wing-nut hysteria over ammo “hoarding”

Screenshot 2014-04-19 at 7.56.03 AMIn January the US Postal Service announced on the Federal Business Opportunities web site that it was planning to buy “assorted small arms ammunition”. People who know anything about the USPS wouldn’t have been particularly surprised about the announcement, given that the USPS has a sizable armed police force, the Postal Inspection Service. But right wing commentators quickly went, well, postal about the news: “USPS ANNOUNCES GIANT AMMO PURCHASE” crowed WND.com. The fact that no quantities were specified in the solicitation wasn’t mentioned.

The claims were so outlandish that even one anti-gun control site felt the need to debunk it. In February, gunssavelives.net carried a post pointing out that the USPS “contains within its organization the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country – The United States Postal Inspection Service.” The post continues:

So the Postal Service has most likely been purchasing “assorted small arms ammunition” for over 200 years. The department has over 1,000 armed agents. Fourteen USPIS agents have been killed in the line of duty.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But conspiracy theories continued to make the rounds. This past week, Newsmax.com, the most popular right wing extremist news site carried the news. (Newsmax may be popular, but it’s apparently a bit slow on the uptake). While the story made passing reference to the Inspection Service, it also pushed a new theory- that the USPS was trying to drive up the price of ammunition.

Finally this week the USPS issued a statement denying the bizarre story:

U.S. Postal Service PR manager sets the record straight on 4-15-14 Newsmax.com article that USPS hoards ammunition.

The U.S. Postal Service is not hoarding ammunition. The Postal Service Inspection Service is a law enforcement agency and its Inspectors carry firearms. Periodically, the Inspection Service must purchase ammunition for activities like firearms training, required annual firing range qualifications and for duty. As the Postal Service’s primary law enforcement arm, the Inspection Service is a highly specialized, professional organization, which performs investigative and security functions essential to a stable and sound postal system and the security of the U.S. Mail. The Postal Inspection Service has a proud and successful record of fighting criminals who misuse postal services and products to defraud, endanger or otherwise threaten the American public.

Dave Partenheimer
Manager, Media Relations
U.S. Postal Service

The USPS statement probably won’t carry much weight with the committed gun nuts out there, but on the bright side, the conspiracy theory seems to be confined to the usual lunatic fringe outlets like Newsmax and Fox News.

If there is a conspiracy behind all the hysteria, the real culprit is probably the gun lobby itself. The big gun companies that underwrite the NRA and the rest of the so-called “second amendment advocate” groups are the only ones who would profit from all this. Like the fella said, “follow the money”! Smith and Wesson are no doubt laughing all the way to the bank!

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House GOP Budget Would Cut Compensation for Postal Workers

From Government Executive:

Paul_Ryan_official_portrait

The House Republican budget considered in committee Wednesday would require U.S. Postal Service employees to pay more for health care, using that reform and others to save $19 billion over 10 years.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., targeted USPS employees in his budget blueprint as part of a larger effort to find cuts through the federal workforce. Ryan’s plan would also impose pension contribution hikes on all federal employees and reduce the size of the workforce through attrition measures.

Read more: House GOP Budget Would Cut Compensation for Postal Workers – Pay & Benefits – GovExec.com.