Friday, February 3, 2017

UPDATED: You know the "Harley-Davidson canceled Trump visit" story? Here's moron that.

Over the last few days, we've heard competing narratives (surprise!) about a canceled visit, by Donald Trump, to Harley-Davidson in Wisconsin.

According to numerous reports  dare I say, "I'm hearing, from numerous sources; people are saying..."? Harley-Davidson canceled a Presidential visit scheduled for earlier this week

Those reports stated that a Presidential advance team visited H-D's assembly plant in Menomonee Falls, because Trump wanted to sign some executive actions there. The timing  right after Trump's draconian 'Muslim ban'  made for a realistic fear of anti-Trump (and by virtue of the context, anti-Harley) demonstrations. 
"Mmph, mmph, mmph." It's hard to articulate your case, pro-international trade, while you're kissing ass.
But I imagine Harley execs tried to do just that.

I asked Harley-Davidson for clarification and I quickly got a response from Katie Whitmore, a company spokesperson.  

She wrote... 
Earlier this week we stated that we did not have a meeting scheduled with President Trump at any of our facilities. And the White House clarified some of the details that were being reported by announcing that Harley-Davidson executives were invited to D.C. because it was the best approach given the President’s schedule.  Today we had seven execs including our CEO and two union leaders at the White House to meet with President Trump.
They may not have firmly scheduled a visit, but the FAA did schedule temporary flight restrictions in the area's airspace, and the Washington Post reports that the Milwaukee Hilton hotel briefly put a hold on rooms for 100 Secret Service agents. 

I imagine that the Secret Service vets a number of locations that never, ultimately, get visited. Katie also appended this official statement from The Motor Co.:
This visit is a testament to our American heritage and the great work our employees do every day to build Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  As a proud U.S. manufacturer for more than 114 years – and as a company that values freedom and unity – we look forward to talking with the president about Harley-Davidson and the future of U.S. manufacturing.
Harley's customers, of course, lean heavily Republican. Being a Harley owner is probably the single most powerful selective filter for being a Trumpist*. So if Harley wanted to take a page from Trump's own playbook, the company'd embrace the new President, knowing that the people they infuriated by kissing his orange posterior were never going to buy Harleys anyway. And that the more Harley infuriates libtard snowflake Vespa riders, the more Harley's real customers love The Motor Co. But, Harley still harbors wild fantasies of replacing aging white guy customers with more women and minorities. That could explain their desire to avoid conflict.

Wisconsin's state government has been a laboratory for extreme right-wing politics. In spite of that, it was one of the states predicted to go for Clinton. In November, it swung to Trump instead, so it would be in character for The Donald to want to go and gloat. All of which suggests there might've been discussions, at least, about an appearance at H-D.

One thing that I wondered about (and that I'm still wondering about) is whether there's something about H-D's plant that would make it particularly susceptible to protests. Although Waukesha County went for Trump, it's sandwiched between downtown Milwaukee (where Harley's headquarters is located, and which voted 2:1 for Clinton) and Madison, which was even more of a Democratic stronghold. So there'd be a ready pool of disaffected voters.

A lot of Muslim immigrants live around the southern part of Lake Michigan. It's not just that those people are potential protesters, it's that ordinary Americans who live in that region probably have routine encounters with immigrants from Somalia, Syria, Yemen, etc. and are far more likely to be sympathetic to them as a result.

So was Trump's visit canceled? If so, I doubt it was Harley's call. 

But it would still have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in Harley's audience with Steve Bannon the President. In 2016, Harley-Davidson sold almost as many hogs outside the U.S. as inside. The single largest market area outside the U.S. is the Asia-Pacific region. You can be sure that from Harley-Davidson's perspective, the TPP trade deal was a good thing. And while the few Street models sold in the U.S. are made in my home town of Kansas City, most Street sold outside the U.S. are manufactured in Bawal, India. The usually well-informed Roger Willis contacted me on Facebook to add... 
"My understanding is that the US-market Streets bolted together in KC Missouri, if not exactly CKD kits, nevertheless use a component stream originating in India. And I have an unconfirmed report that alloy powertrain castings for big twins "manufactured" up North are now sourced from Zongshen in China, a long-established H-D parts contractor." ['CKD'=Complete Knock-Down, i.e., a complete set of parts sourced in one country, shipped for assembly somewhere else.--MG note]

You can be fucking sure that  – "Bikers for Trump" notwithstanding – The Motor Company is not happy about a new President who wants to burn trade agreements. Last but not least, there was CEO Matt Levatich's thinly veiled jab at Trump during the GOP primary season; something I bet wishes he'd kept to himself.

*The eleven Harley-Davidson riders who voted for Hillary Clinton are now free to write scathing comments.

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