It’s always about the bottom line

Despite record government handouts, ostensibly to keep jobs from leaving the state, Chicago-based Boeing company cares more about profit than labor wellbeing. Its recent decision to jettison staggered work shifts is one more case in point. In a brief memo, the company said:

“This change supports the factory vision of standard work, continuous flow and scheduled job times; and is anticipated to support our competitive advantage in the market.”

There is nothing unusual about Boeing’s behavior. It will seize every opportunity to reduce costs and increase revenues. Avoiding taxes in the form of government subsidies is certainly one way to achieve the former. Exploiting federal programs like the Export-Import Bank helps boost revenues by transferring a portion of the sticker price to taxpayers from foreign businesses and countries seeking to purchase airplanes.

Personal revenge

It has occurred to me that Donald Trump’s successful bid for the White House has everything to do with revenge. How dare anyone, including Barack Obama, humiliate him. There would be payback using the biggest show on earth— the presidency of the United States.

Trump with his tweets and appointments has demonstrated that the entire Obama record will be erased, from the environment and health care to labor protections and international cooperation.

And who is to stop him? Surely not the Democrats, who are busy chasing their collective tail. Republicans fell in line as soon as they realized that their conservative agenda could quickly and easily become reality, with no threat of a presidential veto.

In the 1980s I foolishly believed that a Reagan presidency would force people to see what a mistake they had made in choosing the former Hollywood celebrity. Has it happened, the people couldn’t get enough of the former actor. To so they re-elected him in a landslide.

I fear that we’re in for a repeat, albeit far worse.

“Real” not “fake” doomed Hillary

So argues Matthew Yglesias. The mainstream media’s obsessive focus on what Yglesias terms a “bullshit” story on Clinton’s email server had a far more devastating impact on the election than the crazy wingnuts of the alt-right. He includes this graphic:

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Yglesias:

 A team of researchers working for Gallup found that what Americans heard about Clinton during the campaign was overwhelmingly information related to emails. By contrast, they found, “Americans’ reports of what they have read, seen or heard about Donald Trump over this same period have been more varied and related to his campaign activities and statements.”

The media, we should keep in mind, are profit-seeking corporation. Money is more important than informing readers.

The month from hell

Yes, of course I’m talking about the improbable election of Donald Trump. Who isn’t? But I have more personal matters with which to attend.

On the day before the election I visited my doctor with complaints of persistent abdominal pains. As doctors do, mine wanted to rule out gall bladder disease. So he ordered an ultrasound. Good news. Nothing wrong with the gall bladder. However, the radiologist noted “spots” on my liver. Next up: a CT scan. Several days went by before I got the results. The doctor called me to schedule a visit for the next morning, and “you should bring your wife.” That last visit was the one we all dread. The tests revealed stage-four pancreatic cancer.

Before I had time to process this diagnosis, if I ever will, I wake up on  Sunday morning after Thanksgiving unable to remember my iPhone pass code. I then tried and failed to make sense out of the newspaper texts. When I tried to communicate with my wife, the mind saw the words, but my mouth could not articulate them. We better go to the hospital.

I was admitted. As it happens, I had suffered a stroke resulting in “expressive aphasia.” I spent the next few days and nights in the hospital. Oh, and by the way, you have diabetes, another consequence of the cancer.

I am now about a month into this, having to wrestle with new challenges. I have managed to keep my blood sugar levels in check, after some trial and error to figure out the right doses of insulin, which I administer twice a day. Pancreatic cancer, which is a particularly “aggressive” variety, continually announces itself with abdominal pain. The same pain that brought me to the doctor in the first place, although much worse these days. So I take medicines trying to stay ahead of the symptoms.

My oncologist gave me a few options, none of them good. Really, the best I can hope for is to “stabilize” the cancer to tack on a few months of my personal life span. That will mean “palliative chemotherapy” about once a week.

But we can’t start on the treatment until we can begin the blood thinners. And we can’t administer those until we have a clear CT brain scan following the stroke. My last one, yesterday, showed little residual effects of the clot. So, I will begin this morning to inject myself with a saline solution manufactured from a pig. One syringe in the morning; another in the evening. (Perhaps it is a ghoulish kind of blessing that I have accumulated an ample spare tire around my equator, giving me acres of mushy surface area for my daily injections of insulin and, now, pig fluid.)

To cover more bases, I have requested a “second opinion” from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. (Seattle is, after all, the center of cancer research.)  That opinion will not change the diagnosis. It may suggest an alternative treatment regimen.

I’ve had a good life. Nothing spectacular. I did not compromise my principles, such as they are. I have a wonderful family, with two beautiful grandchildren who are much too young to make sense out of what’s going on with their grandpa.

I will try to make the best of it in the weeks and months ahead. That will include, with your indulgence, offering my proverbial two cents on the world around us. I think it will help distract me from this ton of shit that was dumped on my personal doorstep.

A thoughtful analysis of what just happened

Elizabeth Drew, a longtime journalist on political matters, provides a comprehensive discussion of how Trump prevailed (NY Review of Books—might be paywalled). We should keep in mind that this election was very close. A very minor change in several factors could have easily yielded a landslide victory for Clinton.

That said, I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, though I felt it morally imperative to prevent a Trump win in the general. Yet, the criticisms leveled by Sanders against Clinton (and her damnable husband) still ring true. Moreover, we have to wonder if a president Hillary could have accomplished much of anything against an ever more intransigent Congress. Surely she would not have gotten any Supreme Court nominees confirmed.

Now, of course, Trump is poised to do so much damage. It could be huge. In a very bad way.

Simple hate

There is much evidence that people voted for Trump because they hate people of color, and Trump, as we all know, both exploited and fueled such hatred, coming out of the box calling Mexicans “rapists,” promising to build a wall along the southern border that would be paid for by Mexicans (?), and threatening to ban all Muslims from entering the country. For added measure, he exclaimed that he would deport millions of illegal immigrants. Hooray, said his supporters. Now that’s a man I can get behind.

Vile. Contemptible.

But, despite decades of bitterly fought struggles to remove the shackles of racism, it turns out that nearly half the voters of this country are indeed deplorable.They are our neighbors, inconspicuous here in Puget Sound, yet open, brazen, and crude in the region of America some call the “flyover” states. You know, all those vast red areas on the electoral map.

Writing for Salon.com, David Mascriota, a denizen of that region, shares his experience of racial enmity, opining that the election was not about the economy, stupid. It was all about race. He tells us first:

When Barack Obama became president-elect in 2008, it seemed as if the entire country had transformed. The progressive orientation of young voters, of all races, and the diversification of American demographics, along with the unique charisma and brilliance of Obama, made what was unthinkable in my childhood an undeniable reality. Now, another previously unimaginable scenario has become all too real. A black family moved into the White House, and another form of white flight took off – white flight from political sanity, white flight from reality, and white flight from responsible citizenship.

His region’s white population evidently clung to its racial animosity, keeping it under wraps, until Donald J. Trump invited them to let it all hang out. Show the world what you really think. And what they think is every bit as loathsome as the Ku Klux Klan or Hitler’s brown shirts. He writes:

It has little or nothing to do with economics. Studies demonstrated, in the Republican primary, that Trump supporters were actually wealthier than the constituencies for the Democratic candidates. Five Thirty Eight reported that the median household income among Trump supporters is $72,000 – not exactly the Joads. If “working-class angst” explains the rise of Donald Trump, why is that working-class black and Latino voters overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton? If the “white working class” feels “forgotten and left behind,” why do they hate President Obama, who extended health care to 20 million Americans, doubled funding for Pell grants, advocated for free community college, fought to raise the minimum wage, and signed the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau into law, helping to protect low-income home buyers from scam mortgages?

My wife and I would often shake our heads and curse the darkness when we would ride through our neighboring town of Griffith, Indiana, over the summer and fall. Trump signs in the yards of homes, and even in the windows of businesses, were a ubiquitous eyesore. In the entire Northwest Indiana region, Griffith has become a major success story. New restaurants, shops and breweries open on a monthly basis, and property values consistently increase. One of the major Chicago newspapers, along with Chicago’s most popular business publication, has profiled Griffith, offering it as a model for small-town economic vitality. Griffith, like Elkhart, Indiana, went from borderline bankruptcy to commercial triumph during the eight years of the Obama administration. In a lengthy profile of Elkhart, the New York Times revealed that when Obama took office in 2009, the unemployment rate was nearly 20 percent. Now it is at 3 percent, but the town solidly supported Trump, even resorting to taunting the Latino members of a visiting high school basketball team with chants of “Build the Wall.”

In Griffith, a woman who owns two bars — far from poor — actually changed the part of her business sign where she typically advertises specials and events to “Vote Trump! Grab ‘Em by the Pussy!” The town council asked her to remove the offending words, but she kept the worst part: “Vote Trump!” is still there.

Ugly in the extreme. Welcome to the America you may have thought had finally been defeated.

Stunned and shocked

Words can ere express my reaction to yesterday’s stupefying event. Everyone got it wrong, which is small consolation to those of us aching to press a more progressive agenda, one that tackled climate change, inequality, and economic security—for all.

But the people had a different idea, or at least half of them. They’d had enough, of what we’re not quite sure. All they knew was that their man Trump promised to fix things. Things deemed “corrupt,” “rigged,” and otherwise stacked against the “forgotten man,” and they do mean the male of the species. Add white to the mix, of course. Their vote was surely a middle finger to the America conveyed to us by the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and the political and economic establishments.

Before the presumed defeat of Donald Trump much was written about the demise of the Republican Party, which seemed fractured and struggling to define itself and its constituency. However, it’s surely the Democrats who must wonder what they’ve lost.

I’d begin with Thomas Frank’s critique of the party of Clinton, in his book Listen, Liberal to his recent columns in The Guardian, including today’s. He writes:

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the “last thing standing” between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue. Enough!

The key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all secured by Trump, are populated by white men who used to belong to unions and make stuff for other Americans. They were solid Democrats. But the new party of Bill Clinton kissed them goodbye, as the Clintonites opened their palms to Wall Street seeking dirty ducats. Clinton and his New Democrats pushed “globalism” and “free trade” and a newly minted meritocracy long associated with the GOP.

Meanwhile, this party of Clinton paid mere lip service to people of color and their struggles. Bill killed “welfare as we know it,” kicking millions of African Americans from welfare rolls. Nor did the party lift a hand for labor. Indeed, unions were taken for granted, as their memberships declined. No wonder erstwhile union members cast ballots for the man who promised to make America “great again.”

Did Trump merely push the right rhetorical buttons to win support? Did he create 50 million suckers? Or, will he make good on what he said? Will he deport millions, end the Affordable Care Act, impose high tariffs on goods built elsewhere, scuttle the climate change agreement, rescind environmental regulations, build the damn wall, and unleash legions of angry white men to harass “others”?

We’ll find out starting January 20.

The horror.