Northern Valley Beacon

News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

American theater may save the nation

Mellissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer

One of the courses I had the most fun teaching was the survey of American Theater.  From colonial days,  American literature has been a force in the cultural, social, and political development of the country.  A unique aspect of America literature is that no other country has been as thoroughly motivated and recorded in its development as the U.S. has in its literature.  The theater is a part of that literature that has the most direct appeal to people.  It deals with issues in entertaining rather than rhetorical ways.

Melissa McCarthy's portrayal of Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live was in the tradition of theatrical entertainment that satirizes some foibles apparent in American life but which on occasion makes an incisive parody of something more serious while still having fun doing so.  Such was the case as the press briefing sketch took on the issues of "alternative facts,"  dissimulating and deception with language, the White House relationship with the press, and the inane posturing of the Trump administration.  

The videos of Ms. McCarthy's performance have been viewed millions of times throughout the  world, and has been cited as comic genius.  She ignited and illuminated the sketch with her talent, and if there was a satire academy award, she would truly deserve it.

She adds to the portrayal of the Trump administration which has given SNL a boost in viewership with Alec Baldwin's portrayals of Trump.  


Alec Baldwin as Trump with Steve Bannon coaching him in being president.  
One of Ms. McCarthy's comic moments is when she hauls out a box of props to illustrate key words that come in press briefings.   It is an old bit of stage business used in vaudeville routines.  
Illustrating Musllm as Moose + Lamb


It is an emulation of the silly comedy of the prop comedian Rip Taylor,  who is known for showering his audiences with confetti and showing a bunch of mousetraps sewn on a brassiere with the quip "booby trap."  Silly.  But we giggle.  
Rip Taylor

These comic moments on SNL portray some insidious actions and thinking by powerful political figures, but bathed in the light that parody can shine on potentially deadly human misdeeds.

The stage comedy, however, overshadows the work of writers who create the scripts that McCarthy and Baldwin bring to life.  When Melissa McCarthy picks up the podium and charges a reporter with it,  it is silly but captures the belligerent hostility with which Spicer and Trump treat the press.  Writers come up with the ideas and make the scripts that the actors use to create their portrayals.  The writers for SNL are currently Kent Sublette, recently named head writer, Sarah Schneider, Chris Kelly, and Bryan Tucker.  It is their brains and senses of humor that supply the occasions for the actors to exercise their talents.

One of the moments in the Spicer sketch that captured an absurdity in the Trump cabinet was the portrayal of Betsy DeVos by Kate McKinnon.  McKinnon's classic deer-in-the-headlight look when DeVos is asked what is the best measure of education captures the vacuous responses DeVos has given at her Senate hearings.  
Kate McKinnon as Betsy DeVos


Our country has diminished in its literary understandings of late, largely because, at the behest of conservative school boards, those courses which  acquaint students with wit and verbal competence have been under attack and eliminated from curricula.  Still, the  literary underpinnings are presented in comedy sketches which satirize as did early plays in American theater.  They present occasions to examine the values in the things said and done in our culture.

One of the ways that comedy helped President Obama happened when conservatives attempted to stereotype him as an angry black man.  Some comedy writers and comedians came up with Luther, the anger translator, to make of fun of the stereotype but also to make the point that there were things to be truly angry about.  At a White House Correspondents' Dinner,  Luther came out to interpret how someone in the black culture would receive Obama's words.  It was comic gold.  And it was in an old American theatrical tradition.   


Luther the Anger Translator and President Obama
















Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Good story with a fatal flaw: jobs lost in Aberdeen

Covering business news is the stable-cleaning job of journalism.   I know.  I edited the business section of a newspaper once.  It's a lousy job because most of sources are unreliable.  If things are going well, they exaggerate.  If things aren't going well,  they lie.  Or cover up as best they can.

Things aren't going well for the Molded Fiberglass plant in Aberdeen.  They announced a "substantial" layoff at their plant.  The Aberdeen newspaper announced it this way:

"Due to an unexpected reduction in customer orders, Molded Fiber Glass of South Dakota is reducing its staff at the Aberdeen plant effective (Monday).”

The news story did a good job in covering how the layoff is being handled.  The Dept. of Labor sent in seven people to help the laid off workers process their unemployment and prepare to look for other work.  The story also did a good job of outlining the impact the  layoff will have on the work force and in profiling the kind of people affected.  

What the story did not contain was an exact number of the people thrown out of work.  It quoted a number of sources who only said it was "substantial."  The company, of course, knows exactly how many people it plans to dump.  The Dept. of Labor gets the number from the company, as do local officials.  The use of the vague term "substantial" is a bit of a fact-and-ass-saving device.  The company does not want the public to know the exact impact of the layoff.  That caused a commenter on the news story to snark a bit:  "like a 190 people...and the paper cant find that out...."

Why would not a company be precise about the impact?  Because it calls into question how well the company is run,  how well it is doing.  The clue is in the phrase "unexpected reduction in customer orders."

The troubling aspect of that statement is that the renewable energy market is in a state of growth  A CNBC story states:
In its latest Annual Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information administration projected renewable energy consumption will grow faster than any other source through 2040, because capital costs fall as more solar and wind farms crop up and federal and state policies encourage their construction. 
The story states this rosy outlook despite Trump's vow to restore the nation to a fossil fuel energy basis.  

So, why a reduction of orders in a growing market?  Some problems with the product?  Some problems in selling to a strong market?  Management problems?

Aberdeen is a city that does not have a good history with companies that set up shop here.  The Aberdeen American News has does a fine job of tracking the record.  The one thing it leaves out is the call centers that have popped up, then vanished.  But here is an outline of the history of Molded Fiberglass and an accounting of businesses that have closed down and the effect those closing have had on the labor market.  (I reproduce it here from the American News for those who might be blocked by the pay wall.)


Molded Fiber Glass history
• Nov 19, 2007: Ground is broken on 332,700-square-foot facility on the Molded Fiber Glass facility. At the time, plant officials expected to employ 750 workers within three years.
• Oct. 20, 2008: Molded Fiber Glass rolls out its first wind turbine blade. "It's 37 meters long and weighs 12,000 pounds, but I don't know if it's a boy or a girl," then-plant manager Rob Dinsmore said.
• Nov. 19, 2008: First blades shipped for GE, sent to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
• Jan. 28, 2009: Molded Fiber Glass lays off 30 workers. About 220 people were working at the plant.
• March 12, 2009: Thirty laid-off workers are recalled to Molded Fiber Glass. The company also begins accepting applications.
• August 2010: The 500th 40-meter was produced at Molded Fiber Glass.
• Sept. 12, 2012: Molded Fiber Glass lays off of 92 of its 370 Aberdeen employees.
• Oct. 2012: 15 workers were recalled.
• June 2013: Instead of laying off employees while the company transitions to another blade, it pays employees do work on community projects at places including the 4-H building, Safe Harbor and SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center.
• Aug. 2014: An expansion plan was approved by the Aberdeen Board of Zoning Adjustment. In an email, Molded Fiber Glass senior vice president Dave Giovannini said the company has nothing to announce yet about the expansion and that it had requested the variance in order to maximize its options moving forward.
• Dec. 2015: Molded Fiber Glass announces it will expand, adding 15,000 square feet and 75 to 100 jobs by the end of 2016. At the time the location employed around 600 people.
Source: American News archives

Layoffs Aberdeen
Wyndham Hotel Group announced on Sept. 9, 2015, that it would be closing, which eventually put 240 employees out of work.
Midstates Printing Inc. eliminated 55 jobs on July 7, 2015, in anticipation of projected customer demand. It was a 19-percent cut in its workforce.
Northern Beef Packers laid off 260 employees on July 26, 2013. The plant had filed bankruptcy one week prior. Northern Beef Packers had previously laid off 108 people in April 2013, citing a lag in work.
Verifications eliminated 77 jobs in September 2012. Twelve remaining employees were given options to work from home. Fifteen people had been laid off in October 2012. At the time of the final layoff, Verifications also closed its Mitchell office. Officials said the company was going global and that facilities in India and the Philippines would better help international clients.
• An expiring tax credit led to the Sept. 12, 2012, layoffs of 92 workers at Molded Fiber Glass. That was about 25 percent of the workforce at the time.
Wells Fargo Auto Finance eliminated 66 jobs in February 2012. The cause was said to be a consolidation of two auto finance businesses within the company — auto finance and dealer services.
Hub City Inc. laid off 79 workers in January and February 2009. Officials said they hoped the cuts from the production shop floor would be temporary.
Midcom, an electronics manufacturer, closed its Aberdeen plant in March 2001; 190 employees lost their jobs. Midcom closed its Huron plant on Jan 6, 2001, and 73 people were laid off. A downturn in business and a slumping economy were cited as reasons for the closures.
Sheldahl closed in 1996 and had 125 to 130 employees at the time.
Imprimis, a subsidiary of Control Data Corp., announced in November 1988 that it would close its Aberdeen plant. Some 750 workers were affected, making it the biggest layoff in 30 years. The company had more plants than it needed, and the Aberdeen location was too far away from its customers, company officials said at the time. Other Midwest plants for the Minnesota company were also reduced or closed.

Source: American News archives




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Aberdeen American News endorses Trump University School of Journalism

Donald Trump made a  tweet  about a federal judge, who rendered  a decision that Donald didn't like,  infamous by making a demeaning reference to the "so-called judge."


                                                -----------------------------
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!
                                             --------------------------------

Editors and reporters at the Aberdeen American News took immediate note and apparently liked the tactic and adopted it for their own use.  They must not have liked Initiated Measure 22 which was titled the South Dakota Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act.  When it came to occasions to mention the measure in Sunday's edition of the newspaper,  the editors and reporters invoked the style of editor-in-chief Trump and reduced a couple of stories to cheap expressions  in the Trump tradition.

Scott Waltman, who went to the state capitol to cover the legislature, is the paper's managing editor and managed to insert a little snark into a story about covering the state government with other reporters.  When he mentioned the repeal of IM 22, he referred to it as the "so-called anti-corruption measure passed by voters."


Then in a story covering a Cracker Barrel session held by legislators in Aberdeen, reporter Shannon Marvel chose the same pejorative when she referred to IM 22  as  a "bill that repealed a so-called anti-corruption and ethics measure approved by voters."

Exactly what about IM 22 inspires their derision is not evident, but what is evident is that they have chosen to emulate Master Trump.  The  irony in this is deadly because they cover the town in which some horrendous incidents of government corruption have taken place.  

The first of those is, of course, the EB-5 scandal which involved the attempt to start up the Northern Beef Packers plant.  The paper never did explore and explain the extent of local involvement.  It never explored the role of the city-subsidized Aberdeen Development Corporation, to where Joop Bollen took refuge when forced to leave the NSU campus.  Or the role of the County in environmental waivers and the sale of Tax Increment Financing bonds.  Much of the participation was well-meaning,  but no one has ever explained to those well-meaning folks how badly they were deceived.  

And no one has probed into a child abuse case which grew into criminal charges being filed against an assistant state's attorney and a child welfare advocate because they refused to participate in a cover-up.  Even though a judge threw the criminal charges out of court because there was no foundation for them,  there was never any investigation into the acts involved in filing those charges.  In the trial transcript there  is evidence of malfeasance,  malicious prosecution, and abuse of legal process.  But the questions raised have been untouched by government oversight agencies,  by the bar association, and certainly by the press.  

The newspaper's recent reporting of court news involving recent immigrants has raised questions about biased handling.  In one case,  the punching out of recent immigrant received front page treatment .  But the molestation of a mentally-challenged woman was never reported until a sentencing trial was announced.   As a result, the newspaper has injected itself in the ruckus raised by an anti-immigrant group.  

The deficiencies of the American News have been noted for decades.  Back in the 1980s in the early years of online databases, a journalism review cited the American News as a leader in deficient journalism.  This was at a time when there was a monthly distribution of BIA checks in town after which the Aberdeen paper would publish a lengthy list of all the Native Americans stopped for traffic offenses while other things going on in the local population were ignored.  

As an old journalist and teacher of journalism,  I have never found the paper to live up to the basic standards of competence and fair reporting.  In fact, I dropped my subscription and did not subscribe again until some work I do with justice and innocence projects made the monitoring of local coverage a necessity.  When I come across some the paper's blunders,  I think of how editors I worked with would have responded.  The main response is that the blunders would never have made it to print and some omitted events would have printed coverage.  

With the word "so-called" the Trump effect in journalism was brought to Aberdeen.
A journalism analyst has been headlined saying about Trump:

Press needs to stop acting like Trump’s ‘botoxed Riefenstahls’ and realize he’s at war with them

When the Aberdeen paper decided to reflect the attitude of the state government toward the citizens' vote to do something about the corruption it put itself in the role of sneering propagandists.  It joined the governor and the  legislature in a disparagement of the voters and its readers.  Even though the AAN did editorialize in behalf of the public's interest, that borrowing from Trump's Tweet vocabulary made clear it is not serving the public,  but its authority figures in Pierre.  And those authority figures own a huge reputation for corruption.

The AAN is obviously not at war with the legislature, but it should consider if it should be.  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Shoot the Democrats

In their frenzy to turn around their political fortunes,  the Democrats show that they can get quite as irrational and strike out in anger just as much as Trump and his anti-democratic collaborators.  I keep running across internet posts that make Hillary Clinton responsible for taking the first bite of the Eden serpent's apple and, therefore, causing the demise of the Democratic Party.  And posts demanding that all leadership of the party be rounded up and, a  la Donald Trump,  fired.  The only thing these demands leave out is the part about showing them the way to the gas ovens.  Where else does the complainants think the dispossessed Democrats will go?  

I am not suggesting that the Democrats have not fucked up.  In fact, I am suggesting ways in which they have fucked up.  And a prime example of a colossal fuck up is in demanding the firing and resignation of all the leadership of the party.  If such a thing were to happen,  does anyone think that all these people would meekly stay in the party?  Or would they look for other parties with which to ally?  Perhaps the opposing party?  Or perhaps become independent so they would no longer identify with the Democratic Party but will vote against the party that dispossessed them?

There is no doubt that the leadership needs to be changed.  But what needs to be changed is the way of doing political business.  In getting all red-faced and strident and uttering the astoundingly brilliant recommendation that the Democratic Party needs to attract the younger voters and more voters in the same breath demanding the expulsion of the current leaders, those shouters for change do not seem to realize how loudly they are broadcasting their stupidity to the world.  They put on a demonstration as absurd, chaotic, and as caught up in malevolent rivalry as the Trump White House.  They complain about party disarray at the same time they are putting on the biggest demonstration of it. What voter, young or old, wants to ally with a party that sends messages of exclusion and inclusion in the same breath?

I think of a good loyal Democrat I worked with for many years.  He contributed generously to the party with money.  Whenever we had telephone campaigns or mailings to get out,  he and his wife would show up to help.  Back then we had telephone trees to inform members when we needed help.  Those telephone trees were made obsolete by answering machines and the Internet.  People may see e-mails or social media posts announcing events and asking for help, but they do not produce responses.  But now instead of telephoning people and mailing things to them, we rely upon the Internet media, despite the evidence that it is not very effective. Or that we don't know how to use it to obtain consistent results.  

One evening when we had a massive mailing to get out, we put out call for help to stuff envelopes, and apply mailing labels.  My friend and his spouse, who was having some health problems at the time, showed up.  The person who was trying to coordinate the effort was in a bitchy mood.  When my friend had a question, that person in-charge responded in a manner that was demeaning and insulting.  Minutes later,  I saw my friend and his spouse slip out the door.

The next day I saw him in the grocery store and I asked him if something was wrong the previous night.  I thought perhaps his spouse had not felt well and had to leave.  That was part of it.  The little confrontation the night before was disturbing to her.  And, my friend said,  "As a Democrat, I could wander into the Republican headquarters with my campaign buttons on and be treated the same way."  Shortly, thereafter, the couple moved out of town, and I was informed that they had decided that the atmosphere in town was no longer friendly, so they moved to be nearer to a family member, even though they knew no one else in the town they moved to.  

Treating people with respect and consideration is a part of human communication.  The personal contacts with people representing the party is a crucial determiner of how people regard it. Another example concerns the loss of financial and political support for the party.  For many years, the county party relied upon the support of a labor union pac.  It was, in fact, the single biggest donor.  It not only provided cash, but during major campaigns it organized men to come in to the campaign headquarters and set up a telephone bank as an in kind donation. 

When some legislation came up that adversely affected union workers,  the unions complained.  A person in a prominent Democratic office made the comment, using the favorite South Dakota denigration, that the unions were always "whining" about something.  I have no idea about who heard the comment,  but I was informed of it within the day.  We never heard from the union pac again, and they changed their policy to supporting individual candidates rather than party organizations.

Another example of how the party damages itself occurred during a state convention.  There  was a contest over electing delegates to the national party.  Factions squared off in the political down-and-dirty and a lot of manipulation and undercutting went on.  When it was over, the winning faction gloated over its political acumen. A few of us raised the question of whether such tactics were appropriate for internal decisions.  We were concerned about the hard feelings they generated.

Two years later when the county party met to name candidates for delegates,  no one submitted their names for consideration.  The delegate from our county ended up being a person who never attended county functions,  did not know people in the party or the stance on the issues it had formulated, and has never participated since.  

Attrition is a big factor in the Democratic party's declining numbers in South Dakota.  But the ways party members conduct themselves and conduct party business is at root a serious problem.  When people vote for Trump because they feel the national party has ignored them,  the blame cannot be placed on the national party.  The way party members trust people is how people judge the party, and all the public relations puffery in the world cannot change that perspective.  The national party cannot,, probably, sponsor Ms. Manners workshops for the local parties,  but one must ask why lessons in respect and courtesy are needed.  The Democrats are largely the progenitors of Political Correctness, which is carried to unthinking extremes at times,  but they seem unable to grasp the fundamentals of human relationships.

So they talk of getting rid of the leadership and inviting new, younger members.  And the future of the party diminishes.  





When resistance turns violent: UPATE

UPDATE:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/us/anarchists-respond-to-trumps-inauguration-by-any-means-necessary.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

http://www.alternet.org/investigations/robert-reich-has-chilling-theory-about-those-berkeley-protestors
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free*

There was much violence during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  I remember  early one August morning waking up in my cabin in a pine forest to what I thought was thunder.  It turned out to be the mathematics building 40 miles away at the University of Wisconsin being blown up by a truck bomb.  Earlier that year in the spring some National Guard members opened fire on demonstrating students at Kent State University,  killing four and wounding nine.  There were many demonstrations and much other violence, such as the kidnapping of heiress of Patty Hearst, the American Indian Movement occupations of buildings in Washington, D.C., and Wounded Knee.  The Viet Nam War dominated the news.  

Government agencies and social organizations speculated about whether it was possible to  determine if the language and rhetoric that swirled through American society at the time could predict where and when acts of violence might break out.  Scholars and analysts of language and propaganda were asked to examine what was being said at the time to see how the knowledge and use of language might be used to deal with the violence.  I was among those people.  I was a professor of English, but I also had experience in the military in Germany where people were studying  how and why the German people raised Hitler and the Nazis to power.  On the post where I was stationed a team of analysts interviewed troops who had served in Korea to see if they could  determine the reason that some American prisoners of war held by North Korea became turncoats.  Turncoats were men who chose to stay in North Korea rather than be repatriated to America.  So, many scholars of language and communication in the early 1970s  were set to work analyzing the relationship of language to violent events.  

I remember two occasions when people who had worked for peaceful change made observations about violence that were a bit disturbing.  A man who worked with the civil rights movement in Chicago recounted how he and his associates listened and talked and tried to mediate between the factions in working out solutions.  He commented, people from the establishment did not really listen to them until there were incidents where protesters used firearms.  And in a meeting with a native American man who had acted as a go between during the Wounded Knee occupation,  he said that the peaceful protests by Indians were largely dismissed as simply acting out, but with Wounded Knee some people began to listen.  Even though both of the incidents were "put down" by government forces,  the point was that with discontented people out there ready to use firearms,  their grievances were taken more seriously.   Language and demonstration doesn't mean much until it is backed up with action.

One of the things we found was that there were times when language and trying to communicate was useless.  Some people were not just brain-washed, but were brain-flushed.  Their ability to apprehend and respond to language had been flushed out of them.  And this relates to what is known about what made Hitler, Stalin, and all the other malevolent dictatorships, and now the Islamic State, possible.  There are people who are beyond the reach of reasoning,  who are incapable of cognitive activity.  Some of them never had the mental ability to handle information.  Others have been conditioned by communicative forces around them so that they cannot deal with facts and can only respond to attempts to communicate with slogans that have been imprinted on their minds.  Orwell's 1984 chronicles this process.  The Islamic suicide bombers are a case in point.  So are the Limbaugh ditto heads.  Some of these types are used as violent aggressors. Others provide support to the fascist movements and condone and participate in hate-based movements.  Their minds are walled off from fact and reason.  Current acolytes of fascist oppression can be identified by their usage of the term "liberal" in a manner that is synonymous with the N-word in the they way they blame liberals for all of what they perceive as ills in the world.    They do not use the term in ways that identify what  liberalism really is, and their motive is to place blame and generate hatred.  They are America's version of the much-despised Nazi collaborators.  

We currently live in a time when the kind of language being exchanged among opposing groups indicates we are primed for violence.  The fascist collaborators have found expression and a new sense of power with the election of Donald Trump.  Those with classical liberal ideals see Trump and his cohorts as serious threats to democracy and are forming ranks of resistance.  While the huge anti-Trump demonstrations have been peaceful so far,  there was some violence on inauguration day when the Washington, D.C., police arrested about 230 protesters.  Those arrested included six journalists who were covering the protest, not participating in it.   

Protests  attract people who are looking for an occasion to commit violence.  They do not join the protests out of convictions about the matter being protested, but for the cover that protests give to their desire for violence.  They may incite otherwise peaceable people to violence.  However, there comes a time among peaceful protesters when they realize that demonstrations are being dismissed by authorities as just noise and that protesting is not enough.  Just as the Second Amendment fanatics arm to defend against a threats from government, protesters arm to defend and prosecute a principle.  Then, as has been shown in past episodes of mass violence in America, people exchange arms and guerrilla tactics for words in registering their grievances.  Analysis of those episodes, as my colleagues contend, show that the violence produces results.

In one week,  the presidency of Donald Trump has intensified the divide among Americans. In a post shared on Facebook, a historian comments that America has not been this divided since the Civil War, but the cause of the divisiveness is essentially the same.
Trump does and says things that are pushing Americans toward internal violence.  Americans are armed and ready for open war.  They have reached the point where "freedom's just another word for having nothing left to lose."  Thank Donald Trump and those who made him president.

*"Me and Bobby McGee."  Song by Kris Kristofferson.  Biggest selling version by Janis Joplin.  






Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump, the CEO mentality, and the end of democracy

Some Trump supporters like to tout Trump's alleged success as a CEO as one of his biggest qualifications for being president.  They are among those who think education and government should be run like businesses.  Organizations created to perfect the "Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" cannot operate on the prevailing principles of American businesses.   Because those goals for our democracy are impediments to any profit-driven organization.  Business management is inherently anti-democratic. 

The fact is that when American workers walk into a corporate business or any organization run on that model,  they step back in political time 500 years.  They step into a feudal estate where they lose the status of free and equal people and become serfs who have no inherent rights and whose welfare is dependent upon the whims and decisions of lords to whom they must pay obeisance.  The businesses in which the serfs are extended some rights are those  in which collective bargaining contracts provide them legal protections and the corporations who voluntarily extend such rights as a condition of employment. 

When corporations move their operations to other countries and leave American communities destitute with empty buildings and unemployed people,  they always justify it by saying it is a business decision.  As if a business decision is an inescapable act of god.  Well, it is:  the god of greed and power.  The business community speaks loudly about the blessings of liberty for them because they want the liberty to exploit consumers,  their employees, the environment, and whatever adds to their bottom line.  What you hardly ever hear from the corporate sector and its sycophants is the role of business as part of the communities where  they are situated or the as part of the human community in general, their obligations as corporate citizens.   They like to brag about what  they contribute  to communities by providing employment, but that belies that to the corporate mind communities are prey to exploit for profit purposes.  Their philanthropic displays are contrived for public relation purposes but with tax write offs and the financial benefits as the major purpose of their donations.  

The first priority of a corporation is to provide profits to reward the stockholders.  That is the primary, overruling consideration of capital business management.  All other considerations, such as welfare of employees, health of the environment, and obligations to democratic life are inferior to the burgeoning of profits,  if even a factor in corporate thinking.  The huge salaries and bonuses of American CEOs in contrast to their employees, who have been losing wealth and buying power for the last 40 years, is the result of feudal thinking which gives the aristocracy over the serfs and overseers.  

With the election of Donald Trump,  America was turned into a feudal state.  A man who has a public record of engaging in all the predatory practices of American business at its worst has assumed rule over America.   A twitter from a rogue account inside the White House reports they is exactly how he sees himself.  


Pres. Trump is already making waves at the office. Wants to be "the President who will be remembered as a King." His words, not ours.

He thinks  that being an executive gives him that status.


  Jan 25
Pres. Trump doesn't quite understand the difference between being POTUS and being a business owner. Keeps asking "who says I can't?"

Trump is carrying out the transformation of the U.S. from a democracy into a corporation, a feudal state, is indicated by his filling his cabinet with CEOs and millionaires and others who have demonstrated adherence to corporate dictatorship designed to acquire wealth and power rather than democratic governance. Trump has the full complicity of a GOP in congress who has worked for the past 40 years to subvert democratic rule.

The first weeks of Trump's reign and the executive orders he has decreed are all assaults against freedom, equality, justice, the environment, and the people he considers as serfs, who can be exploited or disposed of art the whim of the "royalty" he is installing to control the nation.

A tweet from the insider reveals that motive in Trump's actions.
POTUS known to favor low quality pub schools, saving quality edu for the right, to remind commoners "where they rank in the world."


But the indication of the constant protests since Trump's assumption of power indicates that the majority is resisting. Perhaps, preparing for a more open revolt.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A whopper about NAFTA and American trade told by Trump and the GOP

The focus on Trump's wall and the fight between Trump and the Mexican president has resulted in an extremely misleading idea about Mexico.  That idea is that Mexico is so dependent upon the U.S. as a customer for its exports that it is really not in a position to withstand a trade war with the U.S.

Some mention that Mexico is the U.S. biggest trade customer, but then the talk slides off into the advantage that the U.S. has over Mexico.  What is left out is that Mexico is not the only country in the Americas that would be involved in a trade war.  When Trump signed his order to build the wall,  the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States were meeting and they vowed to resist Trump's trade protectionism.

Trump has consistently called NAFTA a bad deal and has blamed Democrats for its deficiencies.  The facts are that NAFTA had huge bipartisan support but the Republicans were more avid for it than the Democrats.  When it was brought to Congress  it was passed by 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats in the House, and 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats in the Senate.  

The majority of farm organizations support NAFTA because it has been huge benefit to agricultural states such as South Dakota.  Smaller businesses like NAFTA because, as the U.S. Trade Representative's office points out 140,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. are supported by trade with Mexico.

Labor unions are most critical of NAFTA because their members have borne the most negative effects as jobs were lost to Mexico.  One of the reasons that more Republicans than Democrats supported NAFTA was because it was an extension of the Reagan initiative to shift from a manufacturing to a service economy and to undercut labor unions.  The large corporations were avidly in favor of NAFTA because they saw it as a way to reduce labor costs and enhance their profit margins.  The Republicans represented their interests.  They are being reticent about bringing up their history in shipping jobs out of the U.S. as Trump grandstands about ordering them to bring jobs back to the U.S.  

The renegotiation of NAFTA, which is an agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, could be perilous for the U.S.  if Mexico becomes hostile to any further dealing with Trump.  The people of Mexico are urging their government to firmly resist him and were urging him to cancel his meeting with Trump regarding the wall and trade.   Mexico's former president Vicente Fox has said Mexico is ready for a trade war.  Fox, a former businessman, has said the  relationship between Mexico and the U.S. is at its lowest point since the two countries were at war with each other.  Mexico could refuse to deal with the U.S. and instead form a trade pact with Canada and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Furthermore, Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, which leaves China as the largest economy among the nations involved in it.  China is working with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) initiative which met in Peru late last November.  Mexico with the support of its neighbors and inclusion of Canada could realign its economy away from the U.S.  Some Latin and South American leaders think such a realignment could expedite the development of their countries.  

When the U.Sl creates so much ill will and resentment among its neighbors,  it is not anywhere near as powerful as it thinks it is.  The lies told by Trump and his GOP allies can damage the U.S. economically as much as they have morally.  






  

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