Tag Archives: politics

GOP and their Silent Night

Some thoughts on what’s been being shown on my television set recently…

Item: The chatterati are opining about .Republican silence in regard to Trump’s racist commentary.  I’m not so sure this is entirely accurate. True, Republican members of the House and Senate haven’t flocked to the cameras to denounce the egregious tweets, but silence may not be the most accurate characterization either.  Several Republican members have made it very clear, right out in public, they’ve no intention to run for reelection in 2020.

Those announcements might easily be construed to mean that while they don’t wish to incur the wrath of the Tweeter in Chief, they also don’t care to associated with his regime. This isn’t indicative of any great level of intestinal fortitude, but it is a form of statement.

Item: Senate Majority Leader McConnell is bent into pretzelian contortions because of criticism aimed at his refusal to bring election security measures up in the Senate.  Woe, he cries, it’s McCarthyism to suggest his disloyalty! Note to the Majority Leader, hurling epithets doesn’t answer the question — Why will you not bring these bills up for consideration?

Further, he declares, the Democrats are exploiting an issue for partisan advantage.  First, let’s notice that at least one of the bills is a bipartisan product, and secondly be aware that all issues, relating to all legislative matters, may at some point be advantageous for one side or the other. However, we’d be remiss not to observe McConnell’s comments as predictably convenient.  Whenever legislative consideration is sought on matters related to gun regulation reform or election security, the Majority Leader can be counted upon to declare this a matter of partisan exploitation.  This refrain is getting tiresome.

Dear Majority Leader, if you don’t want to be festooned with the hash tag #MoscowMitch, then do something to distance yourself from the Deripaskas of this world…hint: that aluminum plant deal in Kentucky isn’t helping.

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Filed under elections, Politics, racism

Lewis Carroll 1876 and 2016 American Media

Hunting Snark Quote

The fake news issue is very serious, and should be addressed in a serious way.   No, the Pope did NOT endorse the Republican candidate for the Presidency. No, the Clinton Foundation doesn’t rake off 80% of the donations… No, No, and No.  Information is power, and power needs to be exercised with judgment.

Normally we think that organizations with a lot of power have an obligation to use that power responsibly. But the leaders of the largest technology companies have resisted thinking of themselves in those terms. They like to think of their sites as neutral platforms that help users share information with each other — without the company making value judgments of its own.

But this isn’t how power works. When an authority figure turns a blind eye to a problem that’s happening under his watch, the problem doesn’t go away. It festers, often becoming an even bigger problem over time. [Vox]

Perhaps the most chilling argument is that we can’t restrain fake news because it will have a devastating impact on conservative communications.  Nor are more traditional media outlets immune from fake or distorted “news.” Hypothetically:

Mr. X Tweets, “New proof emerges of deliberate attempt to have all guns registered in the U.S.”  The message is retweeted .  No one questions the source of the information, no one checks to see if the links are valid. No one checks – anything.  The retweets continue until some news organization picks up the “story” because “people are interested in it.”  Now, the headline becomes: “Is there a movement to register all guns in America?”  Followed by some generalized arguments from proponents and opponents of the idea. Followed by more “interest” in the “story,” which no one has checked in the first place.

This isn’t journalism.  It’s the old Telephone Game we played as children, seeing how garbled the message became after passing through several repetitions.   It’s dangerous because:

1. It plays into the hands of those who would diminish the credibility of reporting.  Several right wing radio personalities have used this platform: You’ll only get the Truth from Me.  A statement which isn’t true and never has been.

2. It ultimately destroys the legitimacy of reporting.  How is the average consumer supposed to know that the “Denver Guardian” isn’t a real newspaper?  How is the average news consumer supposed to know that what appears to be an online news organization is simply a fictional page of fantasy and filibuster for a right wing neo-Nazi organization?

There are enough problems with media today (chasing shiny objects while ignoring major issues) without adding pure fiction to the mix.  Someone, somewhere needs to be the Adult In The Room.

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Filed under media, Politics

Post Tragedy Observations from the Outback

Microscope Lens

My county went bright crimson RED.  The Orange One got 70.28% of the vote. [HuSoS]  Representative Joe Heck, ousted from Congress by Catherine Cortez Masto’s well organized operation in the southland, got 68.8%.  This is deep Red Country.  No surprise here, since of the 8696 voters in this outback area some 4663 of them are Republicans.   Heaven help them they voted against their own interests, without  perhaps giving the matter too much thought?

We brand things in this region – things described as having “hides” rather than “skin.”  Republican type  branding has been very successful with these folks, and it has been since the 1980s.  The packaging has been effective even when the policies were not.

Republicans grabbed the FLAG. It’s all over town. It’s Patriotic! (If not just a little bit alarmingly militaristic.)  They decried “Big Government” and “socialism” even if they really didn’t exactly understand the nature of regulation – they understood the Big Idea – not necessarily the ramifications of it. 

For example, they don’t like government regulations.  They do, however, want to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat in sanitary restaurants.  They don’t want “Big Government,” but they do like having a massive military system with world class armaments.  Some of the anti-government types are all for big government when it means no safe and legal abortions and birth control for women.   The point is that by speaking in broad, highly generalized, catch phrases the Republicans branded themselves with Americana in bright hues and tones.   Taken to its obvious extrapolation we get the disaster that is currently Kansas.  There are some ways out of this mess, but it’s going to take a bit of time and effort.  Some ‘off the top of the head suggestions:’

#1. Former Governor Howard Dean is correct: “Mechanics Matter.”  The recent Senate race in Nevada is evidence of that point.  Representative Heck was, quite simply, out-organized. Cortez-Masto got her people to the polls in large enough numbers to beat back Heck’s efforts. She held her base in the rurals and won the two urban counties. That takes organization.

However, organization takes infrastructure.  While the Democrats have done an exemplary job of increasing voter registrations in urban areas, they’ve not been all that visible in the rural areas. And, it’s hard to blame them. They’re fighting uphill and into the wind.  It’s going to require both a top down and bottom up effort.

Top Down – the national Democratic Party needs to focus.  They have an issue available  which should serve well to organize the opposition to the Orange One’s administration, a path suggested by primary candidate Bernie Sanders – income inequality.  There’s no reason not to grab onto this one and run, and keep running.

The Democrats also have an opportunity to re-brand the GOP.  It’s no longer the Party of Lincoln – and hasn’t been for some time.  With neo-Nazi anti-Semite Steve Bannon selected as the 2nd in command in the west wing, the argument isn’t hard to make that the GOP has become the Party of Intolerance and Bigotry.  With the North Carolina KKK holding a parade in honor of The Orange One’s election, the argument is even clearer.  There’s no reason not to grab this opportunity as well, and run, and keep running.

Third, the Democrats are going to have to address the crumbled infrastructure of its organization in rural areas.  A fifty state plan is nice, but if there’s no effort to get into the rural areas of all 50 states and build from the ground up with young people who aren’t comfortable with income inequality and bigotry, then Democrats will continue to be the urban party of “anti-elitists.”

The Party will also be best served if it has some institutional infrastructure built in.  It’s no accident that the Richard Mellon Scaife’s and Koch Brothers of this world have established national think tanks and information outlets which support conservative – and ultra conservative – causes.  The Democrats and liberals need to boost their efforts in this department.

Bottom Up – All it will take to give the GOP total control over constitutional amendments is the loss of one more state legislature.  Think about that for a moment.  This means that State Party organizations are going to have to do a better job of state election campaigning.  Better candidate preparation, including getting candidates elected to city and county positions; better candidate recruitment; better candidate support.  And this will take … money.   These things don’t happen without staff, without advertising, without press and media relations, without printing and media expenses, and all of these cost money.   Volunteers are wonderful people, but if they don’t have staff support, and media advisers, their efforts can be ephemeral.

Money, of course, is much easier to come by during presidential campaign years, but those city, municipal, county, and state elections often come in by-years.  It’s during those elections that the organization and staffing levels become crucial.  Not sure? Take a look at the 2010 and 2014 election results.  What State Party organizations should be doing right now is getting geared up for the 2018 mid-terms and any off year local elections in between national election cycles.

#2.  Focus Focus Focus.  One of the nice things about being a Democrat is that everyone has a pet project, a hobby horse, a favorite issue that is important beyond all else.  It’s also one of the party’s weaknesses.  We get distracted. We want income equality, we want a clean environment, we want a living wage, we want women’s reproductive rights, we want voting rights, we want civil and human rights … and we are all too ready to castigate candidates who don’t match our predetermined formula for perfection.

The “Democrats in disarray” theme in the national media is no accident.  We’ve squabbled about Perfection long enough to give the GOP ample time to describe us as “fractured,” “divided,” and “dissidents.”   It’s time to FOCUS.

Cato the Elder focused: “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam” The man died in 149 BC and 2165 years later we still know that he said “Carthage must be defeated.”

What might we achieve if every elected Democrat pointed out at every possible opportunity that the wealth for the top 0.1% is increasing while everyone else is still practically running in place?  There have been some gains for the middle class, but nothing like what’s been happening for the top 0.1%.

What might happen if every elected Democrat and every local organizer pointed out that the upcoming Republican administration is associated with the KKK?

And, what might happen if we ask, and continue to ask at every possible opportunity – What was it that Donald J. Trump was so anxious to hide in his tax returns that he dropped four decades of precedent to keep everyone in the dark?

What might happen if every chance we had we asked in the media and elsewhere, what about his ties to the Russians as described in the Dworkin Report?  Exhibit 10 is the most interesting. Did we know that there are 249 registered businesses in Russia with Trump as part of the name in the documentation?  Would that help to explain:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said that officials had been in contact with members of Trump’s entourage. “I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives,” he told the state-run Interfax news agency. [cnn]

It might be interesting if the public were as aware of the name of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister (Ryabkov) as they are with “emails.”

Four points shouldn’t be all that difficult to manage.  Income inequality, intolerance/violence, tax returns, the Russian connection.  If the Republicans can manage to speak of practically nothing but Benghazi and emails for 19 months surely Democrats can keep up a chant of income inequality, intolerance, tax returns, and Russian connections for 24. 

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Two For 2018

Two for 2018 Please “don’t agonize, organize.”

We lived through the last campaign season, which lasted 19 months, so with that kind of stamina we can make it 24 months? Please consider a simple plan for the 2018 midterms.

Select two PAC’s which represent your interests (environment? women’s rights? human rights? living wages?…)  then make monthly contributions of whatever amount you can spare to the two you selected in order to help them build a war-chest for the midterm elections.

Share this idea with friends and co-workers.  Let’s build some “infrastructure” for our midterm election candidates. 

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Republicans Cling To Trump’s Basket

The Pearl Clutching is amazing!  It’s also perfectly predictable. Republican candidate Donald J. Trump can say all manner of outrageous things, but let Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton call him out and the antimacassars have to be taken off the backs of the fainting couches and the pillows plumped up.

Donald J. Trump: “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed.”  1:05 AM, June 5, 2013.

Donald J. Trump: “@YoungYoung54: @JeriHyatt @megynkelly @JebBush So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”  7:14 PM, August 24, 2015.

Donald J. Trump: “But you have people coming in and I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country.”  [CNN/HuffPo]

Heck Trump Hat

Is anyone going to argue that these remarks from the Republican presidential candidate AREN’T racist? 

And still Nevada politicians like Representative Joe Heck will gladly don the Trump Hat.

 

Donald J. Trump: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” [HuffPo]

Donald J. Trump: “And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” O’Donnell recalled Trump saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” [HuffPo]

Tarkanian

Do these comments from Mr. Trump sound blatantly racist? Stereotypically anti-Semitic?  Even “deplorable?” No matter, Congressional Candidate Danny Tarkanian is still pleased to be a supporter of Donald J. Trump.  But wait … there’s more.

“His white supremacist fan club includes the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site; Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which aims to promote the “heritage, identity, and future of European people”; Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine; Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group; and Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace.

A leader of the Virginia KKK who is backing Trump told a local TV reporter earlier this month, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” [HuffPo]

Hardy 3

Maybe we should have expected Bundy-backer Cresent Hardy to support Mr. Trump.  Not to much of his credit, Hardy initially used the Weasel Excuse for supporting Mr. Trump — “I’ll support the candidate of my party,” – nothing like announcing that you put your party above the interests of ALL American.  Then, Mr. Hardy climbed in the Basket with the other ‘deplorables.”

 

There’s still more. This August Mr. Trump hired Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart “News.” [NYT]  Mr. Bannon was the executive chairman of the Breitbart organization when it published the infamous piece by Maria Cardona about birth control injections making women fat and unattractive.  [Snopes] The Breitbart site has given us all manner of inflammatory headlines, and there are plenty of examples: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” Or, “Sympathy for the Devils: The Plot Against Roger Ailes – and America.” And, “There’s no hiring bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews.” And, the egregious: “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”  And the incomprehensible, “After the Pulse Club Massacre, It’s Time For The Gays To Come Home To Republican Party.”  And, one of my ‘favorites,’ “The Solution To Online Harassment is Simple: Women Should Log Off.” [MMA]

Amodei 3

Yes, even all this is not enough to make Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) do much more than tell us Mr. Trump as president would be a smoking black hole or the next messiah…whatever that might mean.  It can be argued that this comment puts Amodei in the ‘Party before Country’ category – why else support a candidate you think has a 50% chance of being a Smoking Black Hole?  Yes, indeed, for Rep. Amodei it’s all about HIS team:

“Congressman Amodei has demonstrated time and time again that he puts corporations and his party first. Leaders lead. Cynics, like Congressman Amodei, go along to get along. That’s never been more on display than with his comment ‘quite frankly… in the five years I’ve been around, I’d like to try being on the team in the White House’. Party loyalty.” [Evans]

Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.”

Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are.   Or, as granny used to say, “You’re known by the company you keep.”  If these Nevada Republican candidates find it uncomfortable to be associated with the deplorable comments and headlines listed above – there’s a solution.  Don’t support people and organizations which say or support these egregious things.

The Chicago Tribune sums up Trump’s campaign and its followers:

“His fervid nationalistic rhetoric has given succor to racists, homophobes, xenophobes and Islamophobes. In drawing them from the margins (back) into the mainstream, Trump is creating a social climate that increasingly threatens the progress America has made toward pluralism and multiculturalism.”

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nativism, Nevada politics, Republicans

Media Takes Some Well Deserved Hits

Press conference It’s been a miserable season for political reporting.  Some of the misery is self-inflicted.  Let’s admit that we’ve moved a long way from Murrow and Cronkite.  And, let’s also admit that what made the ‘Murrow Moment’ (March 9, 1954) significant when the broadcaster called out the invidious Senator Joe McCarthy was a matter of personal courage when most other stations were satisfied to repeat what the Senator had to offer without comment.   Many of the broadcasters today weren’t around on February 27, 1968 for Cronkite’s epic Vietnam War comments.  No anchor today has the gravitas to make the President say, as Lyndon Johnson remarked that day, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

Nor can we look back to some Golden Age of political reporting without noting that Robert R. McCormick reigned supreme at the  “America First” newspaper, the Chicago Tribune – arduously attacking Franklin D. Roosevelt, all things New Deal, and any question that the U.S. should enter World War II on the side of the British.  The currently resurgent “America First” slogan got its initial patriotic veneer from the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst. [Atlantic]  The unhelpful press has always been with us.

“Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.” [SPJ]

The statement above is the standard by which journalism is to be delivered.  There are two key words in that simple statement which seem to have become blurred — “accuracy,” and “honest.” The reading and watching public have been let down several times.

It took until 2004 for the New York Times to admit that the articles written by Judith Miller concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 2001-2002 were inaccurate.  When they did, the blame was deflected to “bad sources,” and “everyone makes mistakes.”  There is a difference between being a journalist and being a stenographer using unexamined, “unreliable, and possibly partisan sources.” [MMA]

MSNBC host Chuck Todd received well earned flack for this bit of commentary in 2013:

“MSNBC host Chuck Todd said Wednesday that when it comes to misinformation about the new federal health care law, don’t expect members of the media to correct the record.” [TPM]

Really?  What was that first standard from the Society of Professional Journalists again?  Accurate and fair?  Yes, it definitely is a journalist’s responsibility to the accurate.  And, if your reporting isn’t accurate why should anyone watch, listen, or read what you have to say?

Todd got into similar territory during an interview with Senator Ted Cruz in April 2016:

“Cruz went onto accuse the Department of Justice of letting Planned Parenthood off the hook for supposedly selling baby body parts, which as we all know, is a bald-faced lie, and cited those doctored videos as proof, and what was Chuck Todd’s response? You guessed it. Crickets.” [C&L]

One can be a reporter, a stenographer, or a microphone – Todd did not choose to be a reporter.

The New York Times writer, Roger Cohen, got into an instructive exchange with Norman Ornstein a day ago, leading to Ornstein questions about the Times’ focus on Clinton ‘scandals;’

“Roger this is not about ignoring these issues. It is about obsessing on them to the exclusion of everything else.” [Storify]

Ornstein refers here to the questions about Trump University, the investigation into the actions of Trump University, and the possible bribes to Florida and Texas authorities concerning the investigations into Trump University.

Fox News, Chris Wallace, echoed the Chuck Todd defense yesterday:

“That’s not my job. I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It’s up to the other person to catch them on that. I certainly am going to try to maintain some reasonable semblance of equal time. If one of them is filibustering, I’m going to try to break in respectfully and give the other person a chance to talk….” [MMA]

So, if one candidate, the other, or both are being untruthful, it’s up to the viewers to discern the difference?  This is the very antithesis of informing the public.

If the main point isn’t to be the accuracy of the information given to the public what is the public getting?  Not much. Not as much as we could be getting because the press is almost as interested in covering its own interests as it is in covering the news.

“The Press Conference Flap” is informative in itself. David A. Graham (Atlantic) Callum Borchers (WaPo) Oliver Darcy (Business Insider) and Jonathan Easley (The Hill) are among those who have wondered and opined about why Secretary Clinton hasn’t had a press conference.  Paul Krugman’s column may provide a hint?

“So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye. If reports about a candidate talk about how something “raises questions,” creates “shadows,” or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrongdoing out of thin air.”

If all the press conference is to be is a mob format Q&A in which Secretary Clinton can’t possibly say all the right things in just the absolutely right way to dismiss the innuendo and outright falsehoods of the email and foundation manufactured scandals, then why should she bother?

Besides which, contemporary press conferences don’t seem to get much accomplished.  I’ve (almost) joked before that press conferences are sessions in which reporters ask ten minute questions and then expect a ten second response; or, press conferences are where reporters ask complicated questions to which they seem to want simple, sound byte, answers.  Or, a session in which a reporter is asked for one question, squeezes in three, and then later complains that the respondent didn’t answer the second and third?

A sample:

“Chicago — August has been the worse month in violence and homicides in several decades.  Obviously, we focus on these things when we hit these milestones; I’m sure the President thinks about it all the time.  What is his response to this?  And more specifically, what is his response to the Trump statement that, essentially, he’s going to make these shootings stop, and that he’s the law-and-order candidate, and that the President has not done the job in this area generally, is the criticism?” [WHPC 8/30/16]

We could have shortened this question easily because it’s relatively obvious the questioner isn’t focused on the President’s reaction, but on the President’s reaction to Mr. Trump’s reaction.  So, the question becomes – do reporters want a press conference because they have essential, policy related, questions about Secretary Clinton’s domestic and foreign policy statements, or do they want to get on TV asking about emails, foundations, and a personal aide’s domestic arrangements?  Or, just to get themselves on TV?

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Trump The Business Man?

Business bankruptcy

One of the more simplistic ways to consider Donald Trump’s appeal to some Republican voters is to say that he is a business man and therefore will be able to “take care” of members of the business community.  Not. So. Fast.

There is a difference between being in business and being successful at business.  A person could argue that Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay were good (successful) businessmen, but what they did with the Enron Corporation was definitively criminal.  [BI]  Lehman Brothers was a profitable investment firm, but with $639 billion in assets and $619 billion in debts it ultimately failed, becoming one of the biggest bankruptcies in the U.S. [Invest]  We could add Washington Mutual, World Com, Conseco, and others to this list [Fortune] but the point’s been made. 

There is a difference between managing a business and growing a business.  Let’s assume for the moment that a person can manage a business (allocate resources, find revenue, and manage debt) without necessarily growing that business.  If a person is in the business of buying and selling businesses, then the focus tunes into how profitably the business can be sold – not necessarily a focus on how to grow the business into profitability.  And, at this point Mr. Trump’s business experience in Atlantic City is instructive:

“On the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, often boasts of his success in Atlantic City, of how he outwitted the Wall Street firms that financed his casinos and rode the value of his name to riches. A central argument of his candidacy is that he would bring the same business prowess to the Oval Office, doing for America what he did for his companies.” [NYT]

There’s a persistent argument that the demise of Mr. Trump’s casino operations in Atlantic City was a function of a general downturn in casino profitability during his ownership period, however that was not the entire explanation – Trump’s operations were in trouble before the slow down began.

“…a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump’s casino business was a protracted failure. Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing.” [NYT]

The formula was flawed from the beginning. First, Trump took on debt that was far too expensive.  Second, he delayed payments on the indebtedness.  Third, go into bankruptcy and convince bondholders to take less money (known unkindly as a haircut) rather than come out of the ordeal with nothing at all.  Finally, he took the companies public and placed the onerous debt burden on the shareholders.  Ultimately he lost control of the companies.   If this sounds more like Ken Lay, Andrew Fastow, and Bernard Ebbers than Warren Buffett, Dennis Gartman, and Howard Marks you’d be correct.

And in his wake:

“At the nearly deserted eastern end of the boardwalk, the Trump Taj Mahal, now under new ownership, is all that remains of the casino empire Donald J. Trump assembled here more than a quarter-century ago. Years of neglect show: The carpets are frayed and dust-coated chandeliers dangle above the few customers there to play the penny slot machines.”  [NYT]

There are good and bad ways of doing business.  Perhaps a good way to describe the difference is that the following should not be said of a person on his way out:

“He put a number of local contractors and suppliers out of business when he didn’t pay them,” said Steven P. Perskie, who was New Jersey’s top casino regulator in the early 1990s. “So when he left Atlantic City, it wasn’t, ‘Sorry to see you go.’ It was, ‘How fast can you get the hell out of here?’” [NYT]

The negative feelings were not without substance.   Edward Friel’s cabinetry business went under after Trump left the company unpaid for services rendered.  He wasn’t alone.

“At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.” [USAT]

There was more:

“In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.” [USAT]

Carpeting firms, cabinet makers, plumbers, painters… all discovered what Trump’s bondholders knew.   Mr. Trump would incur debts, refuse to pay up citing convenient  circumstances, and then (to the bondholders) threaten bankruptcy or to the small business owners threaten protracted litigation, and “get out” of paying his debts.  Little wonder Atlantic City was happy to see the back of him. Whatever core values Trump’s businesses might have aspired to they weren’t enough to keep him in business.

Core Values are important.  This is as good a summation as there might be:

“Company values are not a statement of mission or commercial vision. They are priceless words, becoming the soul and force field of your business, preserving and protecting it from external and internal agents capable of compromising its survival and reputation.

When willfully and forcibly implemented into a company culture, values have extraordinary democratic benefits including increased employee alignment, motivation, loyalty, efficiency, cohesiveness and consistency of interpretation. Zero or weak implementation of values result in shifting integrity benchmarks, exposing organizations to higher political chess-playing and integrity management challenges, raising bureaucratic, operational, human resource, ombudsperson, legal and arbitration costs.” [Endeavor]

What does it say about Trump companies’ core values when there is endless litigation, mechanics liens, payroll disputes, bankruptcies, and bondholders and shareholders left holding the baggage?

Without a solid set of core business values the enterprise is reduced to gamesmanship – how much indebtedness can I shift to others? – how much less can I get a bondholder to accept? – how much can I get taken off a bill for services and supplies rendered?  — how little can I pay employees and still retain a workforce?   Thus we find Mr. Trump, not at the top of the business world with the Buffetts, Marks, and Gartmans but along side those who played “the game” and were ultimately found wanting; the Skillings, the Fastows, the Fulds, and the Ebbers.

Caveat Emptor indeed.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Republicans