Santa Barbara Central Post Office | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

LETHAL MOUTHWASH:  After getting a most reluctant tooth yanked from the back of my mouth a couple of weeks ago, my dentist recommended an especially lethal mouthwash, at least where germs are concerned. It’s so badass, he exclaimed, it kills COVID-19 dead in 30 seconds flat. So I was all in, despite the stuff’s prohibitive price. It had to be ordered online, direct from the manufacturer. So I did.

Fourteen days later, and I’m still waiting. No antiseptic package has yet arrived in my mailbox. Obviously, it had to have been Trump. He’s that desperate. 

Expect him to spring my mouthwash on the public at the end of this week’s televised coronation as yet another surefire crackpot cure for COVID. Sure, it’s a crime to steal mail from another man’s mailbox. But so long as Trump occupies the White House, he can’t be charged for anything ​— ​except crimes against sense and taste. 

As for COVID-killing mouthwash? It beats the hell out of his bleach idea.

If it wasn’t Trump, then it had to be Louis DeJoy, the fat-cat Trump donor who lives in a palace he calls “The Castle.” Trump appointed him Mailman in Chief only this May. DeJoy is one of those Triple A+ personality disorders who talks about running government like a business. Since he took over, however, the rate of First-Class mail that gets delivered on time plunged by 8.1 percent. When pressed about this during Monday’s subcommittee hearing, DeJoy got vague in a hurry. Middle management was to blame, he said. When is it not? 

DeJoy is the one who launched the now-infamous crusade to cut Postal Service costs just as a COVID-spooked nation girds its loins for its first mail-in election in history. Though Trump himself prefers the convenience of the mail-in ballot, he contends mail-in elections are inherently fraudulent, one of the ways he says Joe Biden will steal the election.

So naturally, when the big blue mailboxes started disappearing, Democrats got nervous. When one in front of the Patterson Avenue post office in Goleta got abducted by aliens two weeks ago, progressive activists protested, planted flowers, took selfies, and posted it all on Facebook. Congressmember Salud Carbajal held a press conference at the scene of the crime. A vote delayed is a vote denied, he thundered, accusing Trump of vote tampering and election sabotage. 

Soon, where there was no mailbox, there were two. Thus, the people spake. 

Reports then circulated that one of the mammoth mail-sorting machines from the mail-sorting annex on Storke Road had been hauled off to the junk heap. Dutifully, I tried to track this down. I called all the postal-worker union leaders I could find. But they were under strict orders to say nothing. I contacted the authorized spokesperson for the western branch of the Postal Service, who provided me copies of statements made by DeJoy that conspicuously did not address my questions. Ultimately, Carbajal’s staff ferreted out an answer: No sorting machines have been abducted from any Santa Barbara post offices. 

People are understandably jumpy. This is the darkest, starkest presidential election in living history. I am hardly immune. If I were any more jaundiced about Trump, I’d have hepatitis.

Even so, I’ve been tuning in to the Trump convention. Most shocking is what I didn’t hear. I didn’t hear a single word, for example, about the 176,000 Americans killed by COVID. (It would take until Day Two, when Melania Trump took to the podium, before any of the suffering was acknowledged, and she was the only one.) The silence, as they say, was deafening. Instead, we heard how Trump made the economy the greatest it’s ever been and how he will do it again. 

Likewise, I didn’t hear word two about how Trump will resume the enhanced unemployment benefits cut off a month ago for 30 million Americans now without jobs thanks to the pandemic. And I didn’t hear word three, four, or five about Trump enacting eviction protections or mortgage relief for renters, landlords, and homeowners. Basic and obvious stuff, you’d think, if your goal is to keep the economy from imploding.

Say what you will about the Democratic Party, but at least they crafted a stimulus plan in May. Since then, they expressed willingness to cut it by a trillion bucks just to make a deal. But from the Senate ​— ​nothing. And from Trump ​— ​worse than nothing.

Naturally, DeJoy says he’s not trying to disenfranchise anyone. Perhaps that’s even true. But if you want to make sure your vote gets counted in time, Santa Barbara County elections officials are making it pretty damn easy. Here’s how:

If you’re not registered already, you can do so now online; just hit Santa Barbara County elections on your Google search. You can register up to Election Day itself, November 3. If you’ve moved recently, you need to re-register. Ballots go out on October 5. Everyone gets a mail-in ballot whether you ask for one or not. If you want to track where your ballot is, you can sign up for that too. If you don’t trust the mail, the county will set up 33 drop-off sites. If you like voting in person, there will be 25 sites available, open for four days ​— ​from October 31 to November 3. For your ballot to count, however, it has to be postmarked no later than November 3. And they won’t stop checking the mail for straggler ballots until November 17. In other words ​— ​no excuses. 

If you don’t have a bad taste in your mouth, you’re not paying attention. In the meantime, I’ll be by my mailbox, waiting for the mouthwash to come.

Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.


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