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

Monday, May 21, 2018

How politics became gang war

Putting a campaign sign in your yard is like displaying gang colors.   Politics has become more a matter of designating who you hate and battling for turf and power than of offering various solutions to problems and concerns.  In recent years politics has tended more and more to be organized around the principles of street gangs with their racial and bigoted divides.  Political campaigning often displays the aspects of mindless warfare between  gangs, such as the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles.

The media has created the situation.  It began with Rush Limbaugh's relentless disparaging of liberals.  In doing so, he grossly misrepresented what liberals believe.  Little that Limbaugh claimed was true.  His claims set a record for untruth on the fact checker Politifact.  Limbaugh's response has been to attack all fact-checking.  

One of his most successful ploys was to hold individuals up for disparagement and defamation.  The prime example was his attack on law student Sandra Fluke when she advocated for birth control.  He heaped on the defamations to the glee of his fans and the dismay of people with moral sensibility.

Rush Limbaugh is America's Joseph Goebbels.  He created malice and disrespect among his followers. And that malice and disrespect became an integral part of American politics.   He paved the way for a disreputable person like Donald Trump to become president.

Therein lies a devastating irony. Supporters of Trump whine because they are disrespected by the advocates of decency.  They think it is unfair that people dismiss them as stupidly malevolent because they voted for and support Donald Trump.   Commentators upbraid liberals for contending that people who support Trump have branded themselves as stupid, ignorant, malicious dolts.  They say that  "elite" shouldn't think itself so smart.  

They miss the point.

Those who despise Trump and his supporters don't think they are smarter or better than the Trumpers.  They recognize a hopeless trend in the reversal of the progress America has made in socially and politically bringing the nation into line with the words of its founding:  liberty, equality, and justice for all.  Anyone who has made the most casual acquaintance with the facts of Trump's life and the words he speaks knows that The New York Times summary of his life and character is verifiably true:

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado.
He is not the subject of investigation because of his political opponents.  He is being investigated because of his vast criminal record, which has been recorded and published over the years.  He rejects the basic virtues that define what America has tried to become.

Thus, when people put a Trump sign in their yard or on their car bumper, they are broadcasting to the world that they approve of America's regression into a third world banana republic.  They declare themselves enemies of liberty, equality, and justice for all.  While they whine and whimper about being disrespected, they cannot grasp that the agenda they support has earned the disrespect.

Many Americans and people throughout the world think the U.S. as the leading proponent of democracy has come to an end.  They do not see Trump as a cause of America's decline but as a symptom of a change in the American people:
Even before Trump was elected, Europeans sensed that Washington’s traditional role as guarantor of the continent’s security and stability was slipping away, and that post-World War II ties were fading along with the generations that forged them.
The divide in America is a deep cultural and social fracture.  Americans are sharply at odds about the basic human decencies necessary for democracy to work.  Under Trump, those decencies have been trampled, but they are the essential values of democracy that have been derided as liberal.

The disrespect heaped upon "liberals" by Limbaugh and his parrots has washed back over them.  But the problem is not one of disrespect.  It is one of dismissal.  Trump opponents do not think it is possible to engage in a respectful dialogue with Trump supporters.  They have nothing to talk about.  Those who endorse the malignant corruption of Trump are to be avoided, not dealt with.  They have declared themselves enemies of the civil decencies.

When people brandish a Trump sign or the campaign sign of a candidate who endorses the Trump agenda, they mark themselves as contaminates of democracy.  Over the recent years,  I have noted accounts of people who have stopped talking to neighbors,  dropped out of social and civic organizations and churches to avoid any contact with those who have so branded themselves.

America's progress in extending civil rights in its quest for liberty, equality, and justice for has hit an obstruction that has stopped and reversed that progress.  The symptoms are not only a person of Trump's nefarious character and agenda occupying the White House; the more oppressing symptoms are the unarmed people shot by the police lying dead in the streets and the  weekly ritual of school shootings that leave promising students dead on classroom and hallway floors.  There was a time when such perverted injustice would have sent the citizens raging in the streets in order to save the country from demented tyranny.  Now, they cower with mindless thoughts and insulting prayers that express how little they value human life. Some say, use the ballot box to regain control.  But when half the country practices disrespect, chooses to believe in lies that support their lethal hatreds, or choose people like Trump to represent them, the political process will not restore the respect for honesty  and decency.  

Political campaigns are only diversions and distractions from the gang wars that are leaving the streets and schools littered with dead innocents.  Those heaps of bodies signal the death of the American promise.  

The question is how to respond to a gang war.  A tactic of passive resistance is to avoid the hostiles, do not engage them, do not patronize their enterprises, and let them isolate themselves.  America is a violent country, however.  It probably cannot be recovered and restored as the preeminent democracy.  The gang war is, in fact, a civil war--actually a war between the civil and uncivil.  If something like America is to survive, the country may have to be demolished, redefined, and rebuilt. 

As elections approach,  it is necessary to understand that we are in a gang war.  We can try to vote like we've never voted before to save some possibility of liberty, equality, and justice for all.  But campaign talk should not let us lose sight of those shot dead in our streets and schools.  Or that what divides the country is beyond reconciliation.  Liberals recognize that reconciliation with the forces that Trump represents will be the death of democracy.  Who can reconcile with malevolence?

When we were previously at this juncture in our history, it was over slavery.  Some thought the country should divide itself between slaveholding states and free states.  Lincoln did not think so.  As long as there were slaveholding states, there were people who would be denied freedom and even the status of being human.  We engaged in a war during which 360,000 Union soldiers and 258,000 Confederates lost their lives.  The result was the elimination of slavery and a long period of struggling through Jim Crow, women's suffrage, and economic inequality that extends up to the present moment when that progress has stalled.

We may like to think that the country may redeem itself in the voting booth.  But our history shows us that our most decisive moments came through war.  We are a violent country.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

“Isn’t it wiser to temporarily part ways with the Trump administration?”

Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord confronts the other parties with decisions that will do damage no matter what is decided.  If, as they have said, the other parties--France, Germany, UK. the European Union, Russia, and China--are determined to make the pact work, they will come into direct conflict with U.S. sanctions.  The U.S. will place sanctions on any company that does business with Iran.  If those companies do as the U.S. wishes, they will lose the investments they made in Iran.  However, if they wish to honor their commitments, their governments will need to intervene.  Because America is a big factor in the economies of its allies, the foreign governments are very cautious about possibly jeopardizing the trade arrangements.  The resentment against American dominance has always existed,  but it has grown into a factor that could motivate countries to reduce their reliance on the a partner.  China and Russia are willing and ready to take up the leadership role that Trump has stepped away from.   European countries are  reassessing the value of the U.S. as an ally. 

European countries are openly recommending that they follow the pattern of Mexico in dealing with the U.S.  Mexico has left a line of communication open but has canceled a number of meetings with U.S. officials.  While the NAFTA talks drag on, Mexico has made arrangements to purchase agricultural goods from Brazil and Argentina that it once got from the U.S.  European officials think their own countries could be best served by realigning their international relationships to greatly reduce the role America plays in their politics and their economies.  That is the reasoning behind a senior European Union adviser  suggesting, “Isn’t it wiser to temporarily part ways with the Trump administration?”  

The U.S. has lost much trust and respect throughout the world.  In the media,  his groundless assertions displace the actual facts about how other countries see us,  and how strongly motivated they are to create alliances and relationships that don't include us.

America is not regarded as a major player in essential world affairs.  That is its choice.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Do we need to do 1968 again?

Grant Park, Chicago, August 1968
Paris, May 1968

1968 was a tumultuous year,   It was the year, after many as a newspaper editor, that  I became a college professor.  Students throughout the world were rioting violently.  May 1968 is noted as the month that changed French culture and society.  That August is when student protesters and Chicago police clashed in Grant Park during the Democratic convention.  The young people of the world were leading a revolution.

Many factors were driving the revolution:  civil rights, LBGT rights, women's equality and liberation, economic inequality, and numerous other social issues.  Nations which claimed to subscribe to democracy and its premises of liberty, equality, and justice for all weren't living up to their pretenses.  Young people thought it was time to correct the fraudulent claims,  even if it meant tearing the countries down.  They had the support and encouragement from many older people, too.

We have come to that point again.  There have been massive demonstrations since Trump's election to express objections to his perfidy and constant lying.  They have been peaceful demonstrations that quickly pass out of mind as the news cycles focus on Trump and his distractions.  

The recent walkouts by teachers have reminded us of the hard facts of making voices heard:  peaceful demonstrations are ineffective.  When teachers ask for better pay,  they are met with the usual dismissals of working nine months a year, getting paid better than stable hands,  etc.  But when the teachers walked out, they disrupted communities in ways that affected families and officials and demanded that they be taken seriously.  Over the years, a significant number of teachers have left the profession for better pay, while schools districts struggle to fill vacant teaching positions.  The walkouts have been effective because parents had to find ways to deal with their children when schools were not in session.  It gave them a taste of what life would be like if there was nobody to teach and tend to their kids during the day.  And the teachers were organized and held firm rather than accept compromises.  That made officials realize that they were no longer dealing with groups which could be cowed by the usual dismissive and insulting rhetoric.

The determination of teachers is an indication of the growing dissatisfaction and exasperation with the current status quo within the general population.  So far, police have managed to keep protesters and anti-protesters apart to keep matters peaceful for the most part, but they know that with the size of some protests, they would be overwhelmed if the participants decided to get violent.  Being nice and calm is not accomplishing anything and people are asking,  "What's the point?"

While Trump has a base of supporters that give him a sense of legitimacy,  the polls indicate that a plurality thinks that Trump contradicts the basic premises that define America and meets none of those defining  moral and intellectual qualities.  Trump to them is anti-America.  When joined with documented incidents of unarmed men being gunned down and police being called on people of color for no good reasons, there is a deadly aspect of the divide in America that is goes far beyond differences of political opinion.

The malice in Trump's tweeted statements reflects the malice with which factions within the U.S. regard each other.  They declare themselves to be enemies.  And the presence of arms and hatred and mass shootings sets up the volatile conditions of war.  Propaganda and rhetorical analysts  warn that we have reached the exploding point.  The nation is primed for riot.  Some event or word will convince people that the nation must be torn down. It looks as if we'll have a vert hot summer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

How Facebook changed my circle of friends

Seven-month-old grandson in Denver
keeping in touch by Facebook

I am on Facebook because my spouse put me on,  mostly so I can keep up with family matters.  I can keep close to my daughter, her husband, and my grandchildren in Denver, for example. Leslie posts photos from her mobile phone on what the family is doing, and it's like dropping in for a visit and an update.  

My spouse sends the same kind of messages from our neck of the woods, and they keep the family current and in touch with each other.  

It is also nice to learn what friends are doing.  For the most part.  The lesser part, however, is another matter.  Sometimes  I learn things I'd just as soon not know.

Some people post their every activity, as if their lives are so vital and compelling that they they are role models for the world.  Sometimes they are interesting.  Other times they are presumptuous.  The old social rule is that it is unseemly to talk about yourself all the time, and some folks do find themselves the most and, often, the only interesting things in the world.  They seem not to understand that not everyone shares their glowing admiration for themselves.  It is good to learn of achievements and things that happen to friends, but when their reports surge into self-aggrandizement and become exhibitionism, we see defects of character that we'd prefer not to deal with.

On the other hand, some of my fiends undertake arduous and interesting projects, and it is engaging and informing to track their progress, their frustration, their exchange of experience, and their successes.  Their stories become that part of human experience we call knowledge.

I have many long-time acquaintances whom I have admired and been happy to know.  They are accomplished and noteworthy in many ways.  But some have taken on a form of Donald Trump-like exhibitionism that undercuts their credibility. One example is a couple who advertise their social and cultural activities with an eye toward snobbery which features photos of themselves mugging with an ostentatious cuteness.  A mutual friend asked me recently if I'd noticed their spate of "juvenile showing off" on Facebook.  I had, and it is something I would never have expected of them.  The friend asked if I knew of anything bad that happened in their lives for which they were compensating or covering up.  I didn't,  but the thought occurred to me.  In my eyes and that of the mutual friend,  they are no longer the people we knew, or thought we did.  Their Facebook antics  make us wary.  They project that smell-me attitude.  That causes me to hold my breath.  It is as if someone we knew well passed away or underwent a drastic personality change.

In other cases people post things that reveal themselves in ways that diminish them.    I often come across postings or repostings that betray racist attitudes.  That is disappointing.  Some Facebook friends post memes that are repeatedly proven to be untrue.  In doing so, they show that they like to believe in malevolent lies.    It is hard to be friendly with people who show a malicious ignorance.  Those who endorse lies and misinformation are the ones who have reduced the USA to the status of a banana republic.  They do not merely  have differing opinions.  They are the purveyors of falsehoods intended to do harm.  People who respect truth and honesty disassociate themselves from them.  And so, relationships are fractured.

I edge away from those whose posts reveal traces of bad character that show an underlying malice.   My circle of friends has narrowed.  Facebook reveals some of those things we'd prefer not to know and forces us to make choices about with whom we relate.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Getting smart about a weed that makes people stupid

During most of my semi-adult and adult life, people around me have used marijuana.  That is the reason I have never found it enticing.  I have been disturbed by its effects on people I have observed.  I cite two such examples.

The first involves an extremely talented tenor saxophone player in a band I once played with when I was of high school age.  Some friends had organized a garage band.  We spent 6 to 10 hours a day in Karl's garage one summer listening to jazz records and trying to play what we heard.   By August we had a small book of songs we could actually play.  We started out with the ambition of playing dixieland,  but along the way we became impressed with the virtuosity of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and our aspirations changed.  The kid who played sax with us moved, so we were out a reed player.  Our band members came from different high schools in the area.  We knew kids from the various high school bands and had encouragement from some of the band directors.  The director from United Township H.S. fronted a combo, and he introduced us to the tenor player who he featured as a soloist to replace the departed sax player.    I'll call him Manny.  He was from a Mexican neighborhood where the railroad workers lived along the tracks.  

Manny's talent was far greater than any of the other band members, except for Karl.  Karl had been taught the guitar at a very early age by his Brazilian grandfather.  The two set a musical standard that made the rest of us exert ourselves to complement their playing.  Manny used music as a way to deal with poverty, racial discrimination, and a difficult home life.  Many young people in his neighborhood dealt with the same problems,  and they had developed another way to ameliorate their situation.

Three railroads ran through the community and one of them had a huge switching yard near the neighborhood where Manny lived.  During World War II, hemp was used in making war materiels, and seeds from it fell off the railroad cars and took root in the rights-of-way and nearby fields.  People in the neighborhood harvested it,  dried it, and smoked it.  People say that the stuff from that commercial hemp was not particularly good,  but the people who lived along the tracks seemed to make it work.

Manny did not smoke marijuana around the band members when we worked out arrangements and rehearsed.  But he did some nights when we had a gig.  Sometimes if he felt tense or preoccupied by problems,  he would smoke a little to relax and get in the mood to play music.  This never bothered fellow band members who wanted everyone to play well.  Manny did not smoke cigarette-sized roaches.  His looked more like cigars.

Sometimes Manny seemed terribly distracted.  We thought he had problems at home that were upsetting, but he never wanted to talk about his home life.  Sometimes at a gig, he would smoke heavily to adjust his mood to play music.  One night after a break, Manny appeared severely stoned.  As we started to play,  Manny was clearly not playing the same song or in the same band as the rest of us.  His rhythm was off and he seemed almost tone deaf.  Karl hustled him off the stand and told the audience that something went wrong with Manny's saxophone.

It happened another time when a band member made a tape recording of the set.  A few days later, we played it back for Manny and he  couldn't believe what he heard.  He asked us never to let him on the band stand if he got like that again.  Manny's band director helped him get a music  scholarship, and after he graduated from high school, we never heard from him again.  Years later, I asked the band director if he knew how Manny was doing, and he said he did not know and was afraid to ask.  But for the band members,  Manny left a memory of the destructive effects that cannabis could have on a big talent.

I later found out that excessive use of marijuana could cause a person to become disassociated from his environment and produce auditory hallucinations.  That's apparently what happened to Manny.

My next negative encounter came in 1968, my first year of teaching college.  That was the height of the "hippy era."  I had a 2 o'clock class in early American literature at the English building, which occupied a remote corner of the campus.  Students gathered around the entrance to smoke before class.  Many were dragging on roaches,   When class commenced, some members sat with distant stares and only occasionally seemed to focus on the class discussion for a moment or two.  Those students did not take notes, or very few.  The quality of their attention became an issue on examinations and papers submitted for the class.  They were remarkably incoherent.  Some were confused.  And some made no sense whatever.  A professor from the history department brought the matter to the faculty senate, which set up a special meeting to discuss the matter.  When the students received failing grades for their incomprehensible efforts,  they would often come to the faculty offices to discuss their grades.Their attempts to explain their  efforts were more unintelligible than their written work.  The faculty was concerned that the amount of time reading nonsensical papers detracted from more serious work by students.  A policy was formed that professors would annotate early efforts which produced incoherent papers, but after initial efforts to explain the grades,  they would simply grade the papers with a brief explanation of the errors  and then file the papers.  The "pot files" became a big campus joke.  But rather quickly students stopped coming to class stoned or tried to take tests under the influence.

That episode was evidence that people under the influence of marijuana could not competently perform mental tasks.

On the other hand, I am acquainted with a number of people for whom marijuana has performed medical wonders.  One couple has a child who had severe seizures for which the doctors could find no control.  Then a specialist they consulted suggested they try a medicine made from cannabis.  It worked.  

Another person had arthritis pain so severe, it made her a near invalid.  She tried a regimen with pot and was able to resume an active life.

A mental health counselor I know has found that marijuana is a safer, more effective, and a cheaper way to treat some people with mental health issues.

Marijuana can be an intoxicant, and some people can develop a dependency  on it, if not an outright addiction.  But it also has proven medical benefits that have not been fully explored and exploited.  The scientists need to be turned loose on it,  which means that the laws which affect so many casual users need to be gotten out of the way.

Not taking advantage of marijuana's benefits is dumber than some of those papers I tried to read in the pot files.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Aberdeen: a burner town

In the jargon of market analysts who characterize communities in regard to their economic development, Aberdeen is a burner town.  

A burner is something that is disposed of once it is used.  A non-contract cell phone which you can buy at Wal-Mart, activate some minutes of talking time, and throw away after using it--particularly if you want no record of the transactions you engage in--is called a burner.  A cheap car bought privately without any submission of paperwork,  used for some kind of shady task, or a demolition derby, and then disposed of, most effectively by burning, is called a burner.

Communities which are desperate for jobs and business activity but have little in the way of location and infrastructure to offer are called burners when they accrue a record of transient businesses passing through them.  The usual situation is one in which the local community offers some very significant financial incentives to prospective companies.  The state in which such communities are found are nearly always  "right-to-work" states, meaning they are anti-union and have legal codes which are pro-employer and anti-worker.  The pay level in such communities is so low that any enterprise that can offer slightly better wages will have no trouble recruiting employees.  Some otherwise legitimate businesses sometimes find  need to set up a quick, temporary operation, and they seek out such communities.  Such communities are also attractive to fly-by-night operations.  Low costs, minimal standards, and a tolerance for unethical and dishonest enterprises are are what such communities offer to attract potential businesses.

Aberdeen began and grew as a railroad hub, the source of its nickname  Hub City.  It was never a boom town, and it spawned few resident industries.    What growth it has experienced has been as a distribution center, the third largest city in South Dakota, about 200 miles away from the largest cities in the Dakotas, Sioux Falls and Fargo.  After the collapse of railroads during the 1970s, population growth in Aberdeen stagnated, actually experienced a slight decline: [1970-1980] -0.24 %/yr [1980-1990] -0.2 %/yr [1990-2000] -0.02 %/yr. 

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the rather intricate web of railroad tracks that wove through Aberdeen connecting it with towns in all directions was dismantled and the rights of way turned into bicycle and jogging-hiking trails with many of them returned to farm land.  During that period, the 14-county area around Aberdeen led the nation in its rate of outmigration.  Without the rail connections, Aberdeen was isolated and hard to get to.  For a time Republic Airlines offered convenient air service with local direct flights between Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck and the Twin-Cities.  But that service was not sustainable for long and service shrank to flights only to the Twin-Cities hub. Aberdeen is not easy to get to.

In 1989, Aberdeen was hit with a calamity when the Imprimis plant, a subsidiary of Control Data, the manufacturer of computer systems was closed.  Control Data was struggling to stay solvent in the swiftly evolving age of cybernetics  and was closing plants and laying off employees throughout the country.  However, when it closed the Aberdeen plant, it said the plant was too far away from its customers.  That reason emphasized the town's inconvenient location and sparse infrastructure.

Three electronics-related companies were recruited to occupy some of the space vacated by  Imprimis and over time provided about 300 jobs, but those companies, too, have left town.

For a  time some vacant buildings housed call centers which employed hundreds, but after a brief flourish, they, too, drifted away.  A locally grown business closed down 240 jobs in 2015, when the Wyndham hotel reservation system left town.  It was originally the Super 8 hotel reservation system, but was transformed into the Wyndham group after a series of mergers.

In their effort to attract business, promoters emphasize the low cost of doing business in the state,  and emphasize the very few workers who are union members.  A former colleague who was a labor economist remarked that the climate is great for businesses but a lousy place to work.   But he was quick to point out that South Dakota's low tax burden and anti-labor laws do not, in fact, attract stable, reputable businesses.  Such businesses do not mind paying taxes where there is a strong, reliable infrastructure to support their operations.  They consider taxes an investment in their operation.  But Aberdeen has not attracted the kind of businesses that create a stable and accomplished work force.  A sampling of business closings since Imprimis left town shows the burner pattern:

  • 1996:  Sheldahl closes, 125 jobs.
  • 2001:  Midcom closes, 190 jobs.
  • 2008:  K.O. Lee, a local tool manufacturer closes.
  • 2009:  Hub City, doesn't close but lays off 79 in Jan, and Feb.
  • 2012:  Wells Fargo Finance lays off 66.
  • 2012:  Molded Fiberglass  lays off 92.
  • 2012:  Verifications cuts 77 jobs.
  • 2013:  Northern Beef Packers lays off 108 in April, 260 in July, eventually closes.
  • 2015: Midstates Printing, cuts 55 jobs.
  • 2015:  Wyndham Hotels closes, 240  jobs.
The latest large-scale employer to leave town is Molded Fiber Glass Co. which announced its closure in December with the elimination of 409 jobs.  Its plant was a classic burner operation.  The plant was built solely to manufacture the huge blades for wind turbine generators.  It had only one customer:  General Electric.  Economic development people nattered away about the facility becoming a part of the Aberdeen business community,  but never broached the fact that the plant was created to make only one product for an order from one customer, and would likely be shut down when that order was filled.

When the announcement of the closure was made in December, neither company or economic development officials mentioned that a year ago  General Electric proudly announced:
As of April 2017, GE has completed the acquisition of LM Wind Power, a leading independent supplier of rotor blades to the wind industry. By in-sourcing wind turbine blade design and manufacturing for GE Renewable Energy, we improve our ability to increase energy output while reducing the cost of electricity to create more value for our customers.
GE had acquired its own manufacturer of wind turbine blades, a global company for $1.5  billion.   It no longer needed MFG Co.  LM Windpower was headquartered in Denmark with a plant in Grand Forks, ND, which employs about 650.

Aberdeen's shaky economic status is also reflected in the retail sector.  This year its Kmart was closed, and today it was announced that Herberger's, one of the original anchor stores in the Aberdeen Mall, was purchased by liquidators and will soon close.

Meanwhile, the community tries to attract more burner operations by boasting how cheap it is:
We have no state income tax, no corporation tax, low business and property costs, a great central US location, an expanding workforce, and a regulatory environment that consistently ranks high in the country. In fact, South Dakota is almost always at the top in nationwide studies of business friendliness for small business and entrepreneurship.
In the current frenzy to create jobs, there is little attention paid to those jobs largely filled  by immigrants, jobs that people actually fill out of desperation, not jobs they want to spend their lives doing.  Companies do not think much about  jobs that people can live with.  Folks like to talk about workforce development, but they are silent about job development that supports decent lifestyles and stability.  

Such  is life in a burner town. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

For many, despising Trump has nothing to do with politics

Investigating reports of criminal activity is what law enforcement was created to do.  When Trump and his gulls claim that the special counsel's investigation is a witch hunt,  they are trying to dismiss Trump's lifetime of nefarious activity.  His record is something he built himself over the decades, not something manufactured by the opposing party.

In an editorial, The New York Times summed up his life history:  

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado.
I recall a long conversation with a retired commercial banker from Chicago in the late 1980s in which he explained why Chicago businesses leaders wanted Trump to stay out of their town because every where he went he gave business a bad name.

Two months before the 2016 election,  the Huffington Post published a story with the headline

Trump’s Criminal History Should Be Front and Center.

In March of that year, the conservative National Review, published a story with the headline

The Definitive Roundup of Trump’s Scandals and Business Failures

These stories did not mention Trump's politics.  They focused on his belligerent dishonesty, and they cited the documented incidents in which he put it on display.

Trump's charges that the Department of Justice and the FBI are engaged in a witch hunt must be assessed in the context of his history.  Any person with the record of malfeasance such as Trump's is someone law enforcement is obligated to monitor and investigate, because he is, to use the catch phrase, "a person of interest."  His record of past and  continuing misdeeds makes him a perennial suspect.  Law enforcement keeps  lists of known offenders so that they know where to look when certain crimes are committed.  Trump appears prominently on such lists.  The investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election will examine his relationships with Russian oligarchs and organized crime figures.  His ties to them make him a person of investigative interest.  The Department of Justice would be grossly neglecting its duty if it didn't investigate Trump.  So, Trump tries to discredit the DOJ and the FBI because they are examining the facts of Trump's business history.

While the news media reports and svpeculates about Trump's latest tweet and the political
turmoil he creates,  business journalists who have covered Trump over the years don't let Trump's misdirections of attention divert their eyes from his continuous history of malfeasance and mendacity.  The truth of what Trump is has been established by his own behavior.  Those who know his history are convinced it will be revealed with a huge load of documented facts.  That is why Robert Mueller, the FBI, and law enforcement agencies throughout the nation are so dangerous to him.  They will expose him.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States