Who among us?

Yesterday Donald J. Trump invaded Everett, a once-thriving mill town that’s now in transition, let’s say, though I have no idea to what. At any rate, its blue-collar heritage intact, Everett joined Lynden and Spokane as Trump venues in the state of Washington, the latter two cities well-known for their extreme conservatism. Is Everett not far behind, despite Democrats solidly entrenched in elected offices?

As my wife and I took the elevator down in our apartment complex, a woman joined us from a floor or two below. With a smile on her face she announced that she was a “Trumper” holding a ticket to last night’s event and hoping to make it into the arena. As my wife and I headed out for dinner, we wondered aloud what was behind the smiling eyes? Unfortunately, we concluded that she was a racist.* Harsh? But if Donald J. Trump stands for anything, it is racism.

Since Trump’s campaign announced that the candidate would be appearing at Xfinity Arena, about four blocks away from our downtown dwelling, I had wondered who among my neighbors would be attending the rally, or at least trying to get in. Actually, I do not want to know the answer. One confirmed is enough.

The Everett Herald talked with a few people waiting to get in. Here are some excerpts:

“This election cost me a 30-year friendship,” she said. “That’s how serious this election is. I have a 30-year friend who was a Bernie supporter. I’m a Trump supporter. We got into it so much that it ended our friendship.”

Brandon Knox, 18, of Auburn, showed up at 2 a.m. and was first in line.

“I like Trump because he’s pro-gun and he wants to enforce immigration,” he said.

Photographs taken both inside and outside the arena show white faces almost exclusively. These are the Trumpkins, the Trumpsters, the Trumpettes, the Tumpeteers.

Conspicuously absent from the event? Local and state Republican office holders. Hmmm.


* Here’s my dictionary’s definition: a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another

Morphing from small to huge

The planet is warming. A simple enough fact to verify for those who have thermometers, evidently absent from Republican households. The Guardian cites Gavin Schmidt’s conclusions. He’s a climate scientist working for NASA.

“It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.”

Here’s the rather large challenge we collectively face: we could act now to curtail greenhouse gas emissions or we could keep kicking the can down the road indefinitely. If we choose the latter, then it will surely be too late to limit global temperature increases to two degrees Centigrade and stop sea levels rising above three feet.

In effect, Mother Earth is saying that we can pay her a little bit today or a huge amount tomorrow. But that tomorrow will be unlike anything humans have experienced for hundreds of thousands of years.

nasa temperatures 8:2016jpg

“Knowing” is not knowing

Matthew Yglesias argues that the press can both determine and fuel headlines. The decision to cover or not to cover x may be just as significant as what is written about x.

Yglesias discusses the media’s pass on Colin Powell’s charitable foundation, America’s Promise, which continued while he was Secretary of State and which featured well-heeled donors contributing, perhaps with expectations of benefit.

Well, Powell’s wife, Alma Powell, took it over. And it kept raking in donations from corporate America. Ken Lay, the chair of Enron, was a big donor. He also backed a literacy-related charity that was founded by the then-president’s mother. The US Department of State, at the time Powell was secretary, went to bat for Enron in a dispute the company was having with the Indian government.

Yglesias suggests that the constant barrage of negative press against the Clintons led many to “know” that she must be “corrupt.” Such “knowledge” served as a prism through which Clinton detractors viewed every word and deed of the Clintons.

Because people “know” that she is corrupt, every decision she makes and every relationship she has is cast in the most negative possible light. When she doesn’t allow her policy decisions to be driven by donors, she’s greeted by headlines like “Hillary Blasts For-Profit Colleges, But Bill Took Millions From One.”

The media are not themselves charitable foundations. They’re in business to make money, which is becoming increasingly difficult to do. We should not be surprised, then, that they resort to misleading headlines to attract visitors or that they run hit pieces against public officials. There is a ready-made audience for sensationalization. Yglesias:

It’s natural to assume that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But the smoke emanating from the Clinton Foundation is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is the result of a reasonably well-funded dedicated partisan opposition research campaign, and of editorial decisions by the managers of major news organizations to dedicate resources to running down every possible Clinton email lead in the universe.

Whatever one thinks of that decision, it’s at least appropriate to ask editors and writers to put their findings on these matters into some kind of context for readers’ benefit. To the extent that Clinton is an example of the routinized way in which economic elites exert disproportionate voice in the political process, that’s a story worth telling. But it’s a very different story from a one in which Clinton is a uniquely corrupt specimen operating with wildly unusual financial arrangements and substantive practices.

Much of what we’ve seen over the past 18 months is journalists doing reporting that supports the former story, and then writing leads and headlines that imply the latter. But people deserve to know what’s actually going on.

Apple fritters [u]

Sitting on an humongous wad of cash, Apple, Inc., can certainly afford to pay Ireland some $14 billion in taxes the European Commission says that it owes that country. The New York Times:

The decision, part of a broader crackdown on tax avoidance by the European Union commissioner for competition, slammed Ireland for providing illegal incentives that allowed Apple to cut its tax bill in the region to virtually nothing some years. The clawback of taxes — 13 billion euros, or about $14.5 billion, plus interest — is a record penalty by the union for such activities.

Ireland suffered mightily from the Great Recession. It can use the revenues. However, Apple’s Tim Cook said that the company would appeal the EU decision. That process could take years. Ireland may also appeal, asserting that it has a right to make whatever deals with corporations it wants.


UPDATE Aug. 30, 2016:

Tim Cook publishes a letter.

A cartel and its impoverished workers

No, I will not be talking about some Latin American or Middle Eastern operation. Rather, I’ll be briefly discussing major league baseball, specifically its minor league affiliates.

But first a brief story about my almost-career in our “favorite pastime,” the sport of heroes and, more recently, multimillionaires.

Let’s go back to 1965, the first baseball draft ever. I was a headlines-grabbing pitcher for Mt. Diablo High School, located in Concord, Calif., about 30 miles or so east of San Francisco. The New York Mets took a chance on me, though not too big of one. My name was not called until days after Rick Monday became the first player ever drafted. My number was 660. The scout who recommended I be drafted, Mr. Partee, met with my parents and me in our cozy living room. While I had visions in my head of great fortune, the Mets thought otherwise, offering me a signing bonus of $5,000 and a salary of $500 a month to play baseball in some small West Virginia town I had never heard of. In the end, I opted to accept a scholarship to Cal, figuring that if I did any good in college, the scouts would take another look. A string of injuries and mostly less-than-stellar performances later, I found myself with a degree in history and no prospects for playing professional ball, though I continued to play semi-pro for several years thereafter.

One occasionally looks back at life’s forks in the road. Pace Yogi Berra, you have to choose one; you can’t take both. What if I had signed with the Mets? How would things be different?

Well, disturbing statistics suggest that I’d have lived in poverty for as many seasons as I might have survived in professional ball. Indeed, according to this article in the Washington Post:

More than 80 percent of draft picks will never reach the big leagues, and most live on salaries of less than $10,000 per season; the starting salary for a first-year player, paid only during the regular season, is $1,100 a month.

Some current and ex-minor leaguers are pushing back in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball. Here’s a summary from NBC News:

The class action suit, brought on behalf of minor leaguers for all 30 Major League teams, alleges violations of federal law requiring fair wages and overtime. Filed in February, and twice expanded ahead of a September hearing, Senne vs. MLB portrays minor league baseball players as the game’s exploited underclass. They toil year-round with no overtime, unpaid extra assignments, and no right to switch teams or renegotiate, the lawsuit alleges. In exchange, they get a maximum starting salary of $5,500—a sum far below minimum wage.

“No one is saying that minor leaguers should be getting rich,” says Garrett Broshuis, a minor league baseball player turned attorney who helped build the case. “But if McDonald’s and Wal-Mart can pay a minimum wage, then Major League Baseball can too.”

Remember: Liberty and justice for all.

Hypocrisy, again

Predictably, the loons erupted with scurrilous attacks against the 49ers’s Colin Kaepernick, he the recently benched quarterback who decided to sit rather than stand for the pre-game National Anthem. He could not participate because he believes that black lives matter, even if white bigots reject the notion.

I especially like Ginandtacos.com’s take.

Nowhere is the underlying message of “Make America ‘Great’ Again” more apparent than when a prominent public figure who is not white complains about America and white people absolutely lose their shit at the thought of an ingrate (insert racial slur) defaming their beloved country…the same country about which they complain bitterly and incessantly. If you have any doubt that Trump’s inane slogan is a racist dogwhistle wherein “Great” and “White” are interchangeable, then explain how the same people who believe in the right to hoard guns so they can violently oppose the government so completely fly off the handle when a black man says he has a difficult time respecting a country that treats people like him with so much obvious disrespect.