Trump at Dana


Trump’s visit to the former tank plant north of Detroit came a day after he signed into law the so-called United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a replacement for the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by then-President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s. — Detroit Free Press


The White House writes:

President Trump flew to Michigan today (January 30, 2020), where he joined workers to celebrate the signing of his new U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the end of NAFTA.
Dana Incorporated, where the President spoke, perfectly captures America’s blue-collar spirit. Based near Detroit, the company employs more than 1,500 workers that help assemble some of the toughest vehicles in the world. Dana Inc., for example, helped invent the iconic U.S. Army Jeep in 1941.
This factory is the site of “116 years of brilliant American craftsmanship,” President Trump said. It’s businesses like Dana Inc. that will benefit tremendously from USMCA.
“We just ended a nightmare known as NAFTA. They took our jobs for a long time,” the President said. USMCA is the fairest, most balanced, and beneficial trade agreement we have ever signed into law, he added.
All told, some 60,000 U.S. plants and factories closed up shop in the 16 years before President Trump’s election. For years, politician after politician promised to fix NAFTA—only to reverse course once they got into office. While they did nothing, an astonishing one-quarter of our country’s manufacturing jobs moved elsewhere.
Michigan knows that story all too well. Once the global hub for the auto industry, the state lost nearly half those jobs under NAFTA, and roughly 200,000 manufacturing jobs in total. With USMCA, old loopholes that pushed car-part manufacturing overseas are gone: Now, at least 75 percent of every vehicle must be made in North America.  
Over the next five years alone, USMCA is projected to boost purchases of U.S.-made auto parts by $23 billion annually while supporting $34 billion in new automotive manufacturing investments. That will help create 100,000 new jobs in this industry alone.
The bottom line, says President Trump: “We are bringing your jobs back home to America—and back home to Michigan.”

Dana Corp. is based in Maumee, Ohio. Dana has factories in Michigan, but none in Detroit. 

From Dana’s history page:


  • Dana extends its leadership position in the commercial vehicle driveline market with a 50-percent stake in Dongfeng Dana Axle Co., Ltd., its joint venture in China
  • Completes strategic agreement with SIFCO S.A., making Dana the leading supplier of complete drivelines in South America


  • The Dana China Technical Center, a 129,000-square-foot facility in Wuxi, Jiangsu Provence, China, opens.


  • Dana opens its 16th technology center in Cedar Park, Texas and the Dana Spicer Thailand gear manufacturing facility


  • Completed acquisition of Brevini Group, S.p.A. power transmission and fluid power businesses for off-highway applications
  • Dana Breaks Ground on New Gear Manufacturing Facility in Europe


  • Dana opens its 16th Chinese facility in Yancheng, producing thermal-management and new-energy solutions

Mitt Romney reportedly made a fortune moving auto parts manufacturing overseas. Donald Trump now suggests he can undo that. Can he turn back the clock?


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“As a candidate, Donald Trump called NAFTA the ‘worst trade deal ever’ and vowed its replacement. On Wednesday, he fulfilled that promise, signing the new USMCA trade pact covering North America. The deal is Trump’s biggest yet—in fact the biggest in history,” 

“The deal is an unequivocal win for America and will help Canada and Mexico over the long run. It puts an end to unfair Canadian tariffs that amounted to nearly 300 percent in some cases, thus creating a level playing field for American farmers and ranchers.” — Christian Whiton for Fox Business.

What promises one may wonder. Here is what the White House claims:

USMCA’s improvements over NAFTA are significant. The new agreement “is the largest, fairest, most balanced, and modern trade agreement ever achieved,” President Trump says. Here is just a sampling of the biggest changes:

  • Broad economic benefits. USMCA is estimated to create nearly 600,000 American jobs—and generate up to $235 billion in economic activity.
  • Better protection for workersIt has the strongest, most advanced, and most comprehensive labor protections of any American trade agreement in history.
  • Support for our farmers. The agreement is a massive win for American farmers and ranchers, vastly improving access to Canadian and Mexican markets. U.S. agricultural exports are expected to increase by $2.2 billion under the deal.
  • A boost for American manufacturers. The U.S. auto industry alone expects to create up to 76,000 new jobs and spur $34 billion in new investments.
  • Modernized terms. Unlike NAFTA, USMCA has protections for American intellectual property, a first-of-its-kind chapter on digital trade, and provisions to crack down on unfair currency practices.

Source: White House e-mail Jan. 29-30, 2020


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False arguments

topThe spin is dizzying:

  • Unemployment is down, so Trump did no wrong.
  • Trump gave Ukraine more aid than Obama, so he did no wrong.
  • Trump is popular, so he did no wrong.
  • Ukraine eventually got the aid, so there was no quid pro quo.
  • Trump eventually met with Zelensky, so there was no quid pro quo.
  • Impeachment is only legitimate when the articles allege a specific crime.
  • Impeachment is only legitimate when both parties agree on the facts.
  • Removal of a president isn’t  legitimate in the year (or during some other period of time) before an election.
  • Removal of a president for cause negates the will of the voters.
  • Trumps actions can be explained in other ways, so the plain, clear, simple explanation can be ignored.
  • Removal would be divisive, blithe dismissal of the articles would not be.
  • Bolton and Trump disagree, so Bolton must be mistaken.
  • Bolton is writing a book, so there is no need to hear his testimony.
  • Concern over corruption is reasonable, so Trump’s concern over Biden’s alleged corruption was reasonable.
  • Ukrainian officials, eager not to offend the administration, deny they were bullied, so they weren’t.
  • Some officials say they saw nothing wrong, so those with the opposite opinion are wrong.
  • Trump was elected, so everything he has done is what the voters wanted.
  • Some Democrats disapprove of President Trump so all concerns are illegitimate.
  • Some Democrats have wanted Trump impeached since he was first elected, so he has done nothing to warrant impeachment.
  • Requests for information and testimony were flawed, so Trump has nothing to hide.
  • Trump hid relevant documents and blocked testimony in the public interest. He has nothing to hide.
  • The administration’s account of the perfect call was the transcript. The transcript is still hidden in the top secret vault.

Sherlock Holmes maintained that when every other alternative had been examined and discarded, what remained, however bizarre and incredible, must be the answer. Trump’s defenders have turned this on its head, arguing that we ought to discard the obvious and accept  what is bizarre, incredible, and convoluted as truth.


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NPR interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly interviews Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about U.S. policy in Iran and about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.



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A Singular Opportunity: Let’s Not Blow It

Whenever I switch cars, I have this odd experience; maybe you can relate. You’re driving around in your new vehicle, and suddenly you see your same make and model EVERYWHERE! “I didn’t know there were so many of these on the road!” you think. It’s a weird little consumer-based “empathy,” so odd, because we don’t usually think of empathy as having component parts, in this case recognition sans emotion or outreach.

Empathy, in each of us, has its dimensions, and they increase with aging, as we experience struggle, triumph, love, and especially loss. As an example, if you have lost a loved one to cancer, and later one of your friends announces that someone s/he loves has been diagnosed, you feel for your friend. You remember every moment of your family’s agony, from the medical appointments and the hospital smells to faint glimmers of hope you leapt at, to the day you sat down with yourself and said, “This is happening.” Then the aftermath, what that loss did to your family. Life goes on, but that loss stands like a stone arch between you and the person you were before. You know the dimensions of your empathy around cancer.

Imagine an unspeakable family trauma that lasts a lifetime. What would be the dimensions of grief and of empathy resulting from that? I have a friend whose brother suffered traumatic brain injury at birth, such that he has been institutionalized his entire life. Not only does he require constant professional care, but he is, for all intents and purposes, unresponsive. She loves him.

For a young girl in a lively Irish/Italian family, it must have been hard to accept or even comprehend how this boy could be so set apart from his own loved ones, missing the events, the personalities, the memories. As she grew older, she must have begun to calculate all that he was missing against the various opportunities that came her way. I believe that early on she dedicated herself to living a bigger, more aspirational and generous life, as if to live for the two of them, herself and her beloved brother. She knew that a life dedicated to accumulating wealth would not be a worthy choice for the two of them. Having never not known profound grief and its counterpart, selfless, helpless love, she chose a life that matched the dimensions of her empathy.

Her name is Tracy Mitrano. A long life of service as a sister, a mother, a teacher, and a leader has brought her to this time when she offers her hard-earned education and experience, her (desperately needed) expertise in cyber security policy, her insight as an historian, and most of all, her profound empathy as a fellow traveler to us, the voters of NY Congressional District 23. Mitrano wants to represent the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Western NY in Congress so she can speak for us in the place where systemic change becomes possible according to our system: the U.S. House of Representatives.

I can hear the backlash already. She’s strumming on our heart strings! Using her brother as a tool in her campaign. She is not. If you believe that you have to be a scoundrel to want to work in government, I’m sorry for you. Tracy does not know I am writing about this, and I hope she will forgive the intrusion into her privacy. But I’ve been watching her for a few years now, trying to understand what it is about this person that is so magnetic. I have often encouraged her by saying “when people meet you, they will vote for you.” I believe this, and here’s why: yes, her intelligence is striking; yes, her resume is formidable; but it’s her empathy that pulls you in. Not that she’s a “bleeding heart,” whatever that is. She’s a determined, talented woman who sees and feels the suffering of others and believes she can make things better. This is the fire in her belly. If you’ve paid attention to her dizzying schedule and her exhaustive understanding of issue after issue, you know there’s a fire there. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor. Get out to an event near you and meet Tracy Mitrano. You may end up feeling as if you’ve known her all along. Empathy works that way.

This article was written by Lee Marcus is a writer, artist, and activist who lives in Steuben County.

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Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen

middle eastKorea has a border with China which allowed soldiers and material to flow to N. Korea. Short of a war with China, N. Korea couldn’t be defeated in the Korean War.

Vietnam has a border with China; if the North had needed it, it might have received support from China. Vietnam has a more significant border with Laos. The Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos allowed N. Vietnam to support fighters in the south. Short of invasion of N. Vietnam, an independent S. Vietnam was doomed.

Afghanistan has borders with Pakistan, Iran, and former Soviet Republics to the North. Support for the Taliban from Pakistan was important for its success. American support for the Afghan Govt. came via a long road thru Pakistan. Had it been necessary, support for pro-Russian factions might have come from the north.

Iraq has borders with Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Iran. The American invasion was marshaled in Kuwait in part because Turkey was uncooperative. Iran supported the Shiite resistance and eventually came to dominate the government there.

Iran has borders with Afghanistan, Iraq and former Soviet Republics to the North. It is unlikely that an American invasion of Iran could be staged in Iraq or Afghanistan; it would likely have to come from the sea. As much support for Iran could come overland from Russia as Putin wished to provide.

Yemen has borders only with Saudi Arabia and Oman. How Iran supports the Yemeni insurgents (if it does) is unclear to me.  If it can’t be by land, it must be by air or by sea.

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An outline of conflict in the Middle East

No more than a sketch of history as I remember it.

  • Palestinians seek justice
  • CIA overthrows popular government of Iran, restoring monarchy.
  • Islamic revolution deposes Shah.
  • Hostage crisis aids election of Ronald Reagan
  • Eight lost years
  • Election of G.H.W Bush
  • Iraq invades Kuwait.
  • First Gulf War
  • Afghan war
  • Second Gulf War
  • Relations with Pakistan weaken.
  • Iraq’s museums looted
  • No WMDs found.
  • Short, inexpensive wars turn out to be long and expensive.
  • Election of Donald J. Trump who criticizes past policy, promises to end foreign wars.
  • Putin has Trump’s ear; NATO, Canada and European allies disparaged.
  • Rise and suppression of ISIS with help of Kurds.
  • America repudiates nuclear agreement with Iran
  • Saudis use American military as mercenaries
  • Assad and Russia triumph in Syria
  • Turks and Russians turn on Kurds abandoned again by the United States.
  • Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan
  • Iraq parliament votes to expel American Forces
  • Palestinians seek justice

Prospects for peace  and justice remain unchanged–poor at best.

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