Saturday, July 28, 2018

Trump's Tariffs Are a Protection Racket

Good points:
Why did Trump start a trade war? The answer seems to me blatantly obvious. The tariffs and trade war are basically a big shakedown aimed not at foreigners but at Americans.

It goes like this: the tariffs, by instituting an international trade war with our country, were intended to create hardship not only abroad but more importantly, in the US. This provides the Trump administration a splendid opportunity to offer "protection" to its loyal supporters. Protection could come in the form of exemption from the tariffs for specific business sectors or in the form of cash payoffs to offset the financial burden. A shakedown racket depends upon creating problems for those to be shaken down. And, as the hardships deepen, the protections Trump provides his supporters will become all that more valuable.

As for those who don't support Trump? The administration can simply respond, "No can do. There's a trade war going on. Blame Europe for your problems. Blame Obama for the lousy deals that forced us to institute tariffs in the first place. It's not our fault."

That's it. The trade war really isn't about international trade. Of course, if Trump can shake down some foreigners, too, hey, why not? But they're not the primary marks for the grift. This is really about establishing Shakedown Nation, where supporters are openly protected and all other Americans face ruination. This is an attempt to accumulate and maintain political power here at home.

...The major challenge the Trump administration faces in creating Shakedown Nation is to properly calibrate the amount of protection. It's essential that the protection never be complete, making those "protected" ever more desperate to prove their loyalty in order to get what they can from a too-small pool of goodies. But it's also important that the protection not be so inadequate as to create an organized revolt.

..."But wait a doggone minute!" you might object, "They're just not that smart. Everyone sees that this is a Trump-created problem in the first place! In fact, the article makes it very clear that Republicans are howling right and far right about the trade war and explicitly blaming Trump. There's no plan at all, let alone for a shakedown. This is just Trump being his stupid self, out of his league, blundering into major serious trouble." Here are two responses to this objection:

1. Attention-spans are short, the media are subverted, and the base loves Trump. In a month, all that recipients of the farm aid will see will be (some) cash handed out to them due to Donald Trump's largesse. They will gullibly watch Fox News while propagandists falsely assert that Obama was really responsible for the trade war (and the mainstream media will carefully parse the effects of Trump's grants on the Homeland). A large number of people will believe this. And congressional critics, facing Trump approval ratings among Republicans that hover between 85 and 90 fucking percent (!!), will shut up. Fast.

2. I never said they were smart. A shakedown racket is a really dumb idea that doesn't work for very long. But if you're dumb enough to think a shakedown is a good idea, you'd also be prone to thinking that a trade war with other nations is a terrific way to shake American businesses down.

Just as the separation of children from their mothers was both utterly immoral and fully intentional,* so this trade war is utterly irresponsible and fully intentional. With immigration, the intent is to pander to Trump's base by restricting immigration. Shutting borders by placing children in cages is an incredibly stupid away to go about that but that's exactly what they did. With the trade war, the intent is to consolidate Trump's power in the US by creating loyalty to the Trump administration. And setting up a protection racket is just about the dumbest way imaginable to try to do so, but that is exactly what they are doing. Yes, indeed, these are incredibly stupid people.

California National Day of Dance, 2018

A moment from the Kickoff Ceremony for California’s National Day of Dance, 2018:

I never even made it over to the State Capitol, per usual habit.

Technically, I’m a dancer. Actually, I’m just confused.

At the Benefit Dance Concert in the evening.

“Street Vybz” performs (with Jaimee Elliott, Kim Bernadette, Jessica Flores, and friends).




Lions pose with kids.

5Pepper Von (Step One Dance and Fitness), little girl (my partner in the street dance), and Miss T Sandifer (Studio T Urban Dance Academy).


Adeola Advocacy (Leukemia fundraising, among other activities.)

9'Dream Big' wall in the Sacramento Community Theater lobby.

A number of dancers formed a cheering gauntlet as the guests went down the halls to their seats. It was a bit ridiculous, but I loved it. It was like I scored the game-winning point. The girls with their shimmering costumes from BlyueRose Dance Project were particularly enthusiastic!

10'Lion Dance,' Honor Kung Fu Academy.

11A traditional Chinese dance by Fresh Meadow.

Ignite Dance Academy presents 'Gaston' from "Disney's Beauty and the Beast."

'Mr. BoJangles' by Sam Williams.

Interview with Jessica Flores (center) and Jaimee Elliott from Jamaican Dancehall group "Street Vybz."

California Greenhouse Gas Triumphalism

Yeah, bitch!

TV News Bloopers

I'm in love with the Weather Girl at 23:30. The Inflatables segment at 26:30 is awesome!

Thursday, July 26, 2018


I'm looking for a credit card now. Because I put it where no thief would ever find it.

Trolls Are Entering America's Power Structure

This Paris Wade guy is running for Nevada State Assembly:
A week before Election Day in 2016, BuzzFeed News revealed that young men and teens in Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported Donald Trump.

...But after reviewing social media posts, government records, domain registry information, and archived versions of fake news sites, as well as interviewing key players, BuzzFeed News, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and the Investigative Reporting Lab Macedonia can now reveal that Veles’ political news industry was not started spontaneously by apolitical teens.

Rather, it was launched by a well-known Macedonian media attorney, Trajche Arsov — who worked closely with two high-profile American partners for at least six months during a period that overlapped with Election Day.

One of those Americans, Paris Wade, is now running for office in Nevada. Arsov also employed other American and British writers, including at least one who currently works for US right-wing conspiracy site the Gateway Pundit.

The investigation also reveals that at least one member of Russia’s “troll factory,” who has been indicted by US special counsel Robert Mueller for alleged interference in the election, was in Macedonia just three months before the web domain for the country’s first US-focused politics site was registered.

...By reviewing domain registration records of Macedonian politics sites, reporters were able to determine that Arsov, along with his brother, Panche, registered the domain name of the first politics site in Veles,, on Sept. 23, 2015. The site would soon set off a chain reaction in Veles, spawning many imitators. The Arsovs eventually established their own network of nearly half a dozen sites and associated Facebook pages — which had a total of over 2 million followers — that operated until the social media site finally took them down this April.

...Arsov said the brothers briefly tried running a car site, but soon discovered that politics — especially of the conservative brand — performed better.

“I follow the Macedonian politics, the US politics, Russian politics,” Arsov said. “My idea was, ‘OK, you can start with something different, not healthy food, not sport, no cars. You can start with politics.’”

Though Arsov considers himself a right-leaning libertarian, he says he first attempted to also crack the market in liberal content. But on Facebook, republishing conservative articles was just better business, he said.

“We found that the names of the groups where we could stay longer, where our profiles were not removed, were related to conservatives, to Republicans, to Trump,” he said.

“If you found 100 groups for conservatives, you could only find 10 for liberals.”

Burglars Have Needs Too

Can anyone lend a hand?:
A Palo Alto, California, couple woke up early Sunday morning to a terrifying surprise: There was a stranger in their bedroom, according to police.

It was a 17-year-old burglar, and he startled the 60-something residents awake to ask for access to their WiFi network, according to Palo Alto police. The burglar had a garment obscuring his face, the victims said.

The burglar never got WiFi access, though. The man got out of his bed and forced the burglar out of their bedroom, down the hall and out the home’s front door, according to police. The couple called police right after that, around 12:30 a.m. Neither victim was injured. All that was missing from the home were two kitchen knives, the couple told police.

Officers quickly got to the scene and arrested the suspected burglar a block away, police said.

...But it wasn’t the suspected prowler’s first crime of the weekend — or his first request for WiFi, according to police.

...The residents told the 17-year-old to go away, according to police, and he rode off on a bicycle.

But the residents didn’t realize until the next day that a bicycle was missing from their backyard.

Mountain Lion Napping In Oregon Woman's Home

Michelle says: "You have to click on the Facebook link within the article to get the WHOLE me it is worth it...":
After entering the home, the cat was startled by Taylor's roommate, who screamed upon seeing the mountain lion. This prompted the wild animal to hide behind the sofa, where it snoozed for several hours.

Taylor made a noise to wake the feline, but then “gazed lovingly into her eyes, and communicated using feline-speak eye blinking to calm her,” she wrote.

“It was amazing to realize that this worked. I gazed lovingly then blinked hard and then she did it back,” Taylor continued, adding that the cat then went back to sleep. “She clearly felt safe and she showed no inclination to leave."

Changes Come to Kingman, AZ

Pachelbel's Chicken

Pallid Bats Get Sneaky

The live around here too.

Toddler Distraction

Knock, knock, knock. Who's that? Evangelists at the door again, this time identifying as Jehovah Witnesses, urging me to return to Psalms 37 (New International Version):

34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

This time the evangelist brought her mom and toddler son. I may not even notice when the wicked are destroyed, due to toddler distraction.

Long Reach

Work continues on my house. Glad Jack knows what he’s doing.

"Here's Johnny!"

Jack Tapke, contractor from 3 Pyramid, preps the window frame by the back door for painting. He’s working real hard, and we’re hoping for project completion maybe by Thursday.

The Missouri Duck Boat Sinking Reminded Me

Something I saw in Mazatlan harbor, December 1, 2010. "Sail On, Titanik!"

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Chinese 'Splain to Americans Just Why Trump's Trade War Will Hurt Trump Supporters Most

Because some people are just too thick to get it:

You see, China is the world's largest consumer of soybeans. In fact, it imports 85 percent of the crop. About a third of that is from the US, making it the second largest provider of soybeans for the world's most populous country.

America, on the other hand, exports much of the crop to the rest of the world. Most of the US' soybean exports -- 62 percent -- go to China. More expensive soy could mean that China will look to other sources for the bulk of its imports. As two of the top soybean suppliers to China, Brazil and Argentina could pick up the slack. If that happens, soybean farmers in the US could take an even greater hit. The crop's prices in the US already dropped by 18 percent from May to early July amid fears of a trade war, the lowest so far this year.

Why is Trump doing this now? Maybe it's because many US lawmakers are up for re-election in November, and Trump wants to win over more voters by starting a trade war.

Yoann Bourgeois at the Pantheon