Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kim Jong Un, Trump and American Decline

The shock over Donald Trump's announcement he would meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un without any preconditions has started to fade after Trump started waffling about the whole thing.

But it will ultimately come to nothing. Kim will never give up his nukes. Even if Kim signs an agreement to do so, we know that he will not abide by it. Look at what happened to the other dictators with WMDs:

After the Bush II administration lied about Saddam Hussein having WMDs and started a preemptive war, Saddam was found hiding in a hole and was executed after being put on trial for crimes against humanity.

After giving up his WMD programs, Muammar Gaddafi was captured and reportedly shot in the stomach or head, stabbed in the anus and dropped off the back of a truck.

Trump made a show of attacking Syria for using chemical weapons, but the Syrians have since repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians. Trump has done nothing since the first retaliatory attack (which didn't hurt Syria because Trump told the Russians it was coming hours beforehand). Why? Syria has the backing of Russia, and Trump never acts against Russia. He has only praise for Putin.

Iran signed a treaty with Europe and the United States to scale back its nuclear ambitions, allowing for inspections and other restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program. But by threatening to scuttle the treaty, Trump has completely undermined the credibility of the United States.

If Trump does indeed break the Iran treaty (and his appointment of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state increases this likelihood), then he will prove that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner.

If treaties with the United States are agreements with the current president, and not the law of land, no one will enter into good faith negotiations with the United States.

Furthermore, Trump himself has personally reneged on countless contracts, declaring multiple bankruptcies and stiffing hundreds of contractors out of money he owes them.

So anyone -- Kim Jong Un in particular -- negotiating with Trump is clearly not expecting Trump to abide by any agreement he makes: they're just playing for time. They're just buttering him up, playing to his sense of self-importance, while they either develop their nuclear weapons or cement their relationship with the Russians.

Bush's disastrous Iraq war taught dictators that to survive they have two options: get nuclear weapons or Russian backing. Syria and Iran have the Russians. North Korea has nukes and the Russians. Turkey is going with the Russians. Egypt is going with the Russians. Saudi Arabia is going for nukes.

Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland are selling out to the Russians. Geeze, even Italy is selling out to the Russians.

Meanwhile, Trump is doing everything he can to alienate our European, Asian, North American, South American, Caribbean, Australian and African allies. After Rex Tillerson completely dismantled the State Department and destroyed our diplomatic corps, Trump fired him by tweet and put the CIA in charge of our diplomats and a torturer in charge of the CIA.

The United States used to be a force for peace and democracy across the world. But Trump appears to have entered into a deal with Putin: Russia can have all of Europe and Asia and the United States can have ... the United States.

Trump's America First is America Alone.

The United States used to project power and hope across the globe. Now, under Trump, we have become a nation in moral and psychological decline. We have lost any sort of moral authority: Like Trump, Americans are quickly becoming whiners who just bitch about how unfair life is, blaming everyone else for their problems and lashing out violently.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the latest epidemic of of miserable white men who shoot dozens of kids in schools, mow down hundreds of people at Las Vegas concerts and blow up innocent people in Austin with no discernible motive.

Trump's Problem in a Single Tweet

Eleven days ago Donald Trump wrote the following tweet:
Earlier this week Trump did in fact add another lawyer to his legal team, and yesterday John Dowd, with whom Trump said he was VERY happy, quit and/or was fired.

The Times was right and Trump's tweet was a total lie: everything he claimed was false was actually true and came to pass within 10 days.

Dowd quit because Trump won't listen to his lawyers' legal advice. Which has been, essentially: shut up and stop making yourself look guilty by lying constantly and doing massively stupid things that are clearly intended to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Trump keeps saying and tweeting lies like the one above on a daily basis, which are then proved to be lies within a week a two. Yet Republicans keep defending him. Why?

Trump supporters think the mainstream media are after Trump because their reporting on him is so negative. But the problem is Trump: he keeps lying and doing negative things. The media just report what he says and does. You can't blame Trump's lies and mistakes on the people who report them.

Avoiding bad coverage is easy: don't lie, don't bang porn stars, don't grab women's pussies, don't brag about grabbing pussies, don't congratulate foreign dictators on their rigged election victories, don't obstruct justice, don't conspire with foreigners to win elections, don't insult your own attorney general, and above all don't unjustly fire the people who will ultimately provide the testimony in the impeachment trial that will bring you down.

Why is the Republican Party letting Donald Trump drag them into the pits of hell?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Why Facebook is Evil

Some people are accusing Facebook of a "massive" data breach, in which a foreign company took a bunch of data about tens of millions of Americans and used it to influence them to vote for Donald Trump.

Others are saying that Facebook did nothing wrong, that they didn't do anything that wasn't listed in the terms of service. From the Atlantic, here's a brief summary of what happened:
In June 2014, [an England-based Russian] researcher named Aleksandr Kogan developed a personality-quiz app for Facebook. It was heavily influenced by a similar personality-quiz app made by the Psychometrics Centre, a Cambridge University laboratory where Kogan worked. About 270,000 people installed Kogan’s app on their Facebook account. But as with any Facebook developer at the time, Kogan could access data about those users or their friends. And when Kogan’s app asked for that data, it saved that information into a private database instead of immediately deleting it. Kogan provided that private database, containing information about 50 million Facebook users, to the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica used it to make 30 million “psychographic” profiles about voters.
The key thing here is that while only 270,000 people explicitly gave their consent for their personal data, this Russian professor got hold of 50 million people's data because Facebook let "friends" look at personal data.

That data included all kinds of personal information that can be used not only to influence you, but to commit identity theft. This data not only included Facebook posts, personal photos, and Facebook likes, but also birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, educational histories, lists of family and friends, names of pets, what people ate, where people went, what what people did and when they did it, and tons of other sensitive information on whatever people happened to blab about themselves on Facebook.

The reason this enables identity theft is that much of this information is used by various web sites to validate your identity: birthdate, addresses, mother's maiden name, names of your schools, names of your pets, etc.

Facebook thinks it's doing nothing wrong. They claim that apps need to have access to information on your friends so companies can write apps to perform critically important services that we simply could not survive without, like wishing you happy birthday.

If Facebook friends were actually real, close friends and family, this wouldn't be as big a problem -- but it would still pose a serious breach of personal data. Do you really trust your elderly grandmother to understand that taking a pop quiz on Facebook -- and getting paid a dollar! -- can give information on her family and friends to hackers and Russian spies?

What makes it worse is that many people somehow think that the number of Facebook friends is an indicator of social importance. So they accept friend requests from people they barely know. A lot them were phony accounts created by Russians trying to influence American politics.

But the real root of Facebook's evil is that the public image of what it does has nothing to do with its true purpose.

People mistakenly think that they are Facebook's customers and that Facebook's communications service is the product. This is utterly false.

Businesses, advertisers, opinion researchers and political operatives like Cambridge Analytica are Facebook's real customers. The real product is you and your data.

Facebook sells your secrets to anyone who will pay for them, be it advertisers, identity thieves, political operatives, foreign governments, or private investigators working for people looking for dirt on cheating spouses.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to destroy your Facebook account, delete all the data and never log in to Facebook again, hoping that your data hasn't already fallen into the wrong hands and that Facebook will actually honor their commitment to delete it.

The second-best thing you can do is unfriend everyone except your family and your closest real friends. Of course, since those people already know all that stuff about you, there's really no reason for Facebook to have that information in the first place.

The third-best thing you can is enter false information in your profile: never use your real birthday, or address or other personal data for social media accounts. The whole idea that companies need your birthday to make sure children don't see "adult" material is preposterous, since kids can just lie anyway.

Deleting your Facebook account will have immediate benefits. You will get back an hour of your time every day.  You will feel less depressed. You will be less angry.

Ditto for Twitter. If Donald Trump deleted his Twitter account, the world's net happiness quotient would increase by 7 billion!

Economist Cost of Living Survey Slanted for the Wealthy

Minnesotans were astonished when the Economist magazine said Minneapolis was the third most expensive American city to live in, after New York and Los Angeles.

"How is this possible?" they wondered.

Housing is one of the biggest expenses in any budget. The median home price in Minneapolis is $244,000, whereas most every city in California's Bay Area has home values in the million dollar range (San Jose: $1,036,000, Sunnyvale: $1,819,000, San Francisco: $1,285,000), and places like San Diego are in the half million dollar range (San Diego: $608,200, Escondido: $479,200, Chula Vista: $514,000).

Average apartment rent in Minneapolis in $1,390 a month, while in San Jose it's $2,616.

Another large expense is fuel costs. According to Gas Buddy, the price of gas is about $2.45-2.50 around Minneapolis. It's between $3.05 and $3.89 in the Bay Area.

The web site Expatistan has a comparison function that shows the difference in the cost of living between any two cities. Using that, we see that San Jose is 21% more expensive than Minneapolis, while Houston is 11% cheaper than Minneapolis (in large part to lower transportation costs -- i.e., cheaper gas, and a large immigrant work force that is paid less than native Americans).

One of the most common things that make Minneapolis more expensive than other cities is entertainment, including alcohol and cigarettes. That is, completely unnecessary expenditures.

So what exactly does the Economist survey measure that other economic surveys ignore that makes a magazine targeted at the wealthy rank Minneapolis as more expensive than dozens of cities in California that are clearly more expensive for the average person to live in?
The survey is compiled using the prices of 160 products and services in each city, including, “food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.”
The primary flaw in the Economist survey is that it omits house prices, because it's targeted at corporations who ship executives around the world. Those people don't buy houses.

Domestic help is expensive in Minneapolis, because it's mostly performed by Americans, rather than undocumented workers, as it is in California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, etc. I know people who provide maid service in Minnesota and they make significantly more than minimum wage. Because a decent wage is the only way to get average Americans to clean other people's toilets.

Private schools are of concern mostly for the wealthy or the rabid religious right. Public schools in Minnesota are generally good. Teachers are mostly paid a decent wage.

So, yeah, if you're a millionaire executive who needs an army of underpaid chauffeurs, maids, and cooks, send your kids to private schools where non-unionized teachers get paid peanuts, and buy lots of booze and tobacco, you don't want to live in Minneapolis. You want to live in a place where you can lord over those less fortunate than yourself. A place where you don't give a damn about what happens to the people who live there in five, ten or 20 years.

The cost of living has to be balanced with the quality of life. For example, US News' 2018 state rankings list Minnesota second in the nation for citizen outcomes. Minnesota consistently comes out on the high end of surveys that measure income and the health of average citizens.

Which is a far superior measure for society than how much millionaires can flaunt their wealth.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Surprise! A Russian's Behind the Facebook Data Breach!

There's a firestorm in Washington and London now with multiple senators and MPs calling for the CEOs of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to testify before various committees about the gigantic data breach at Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica worked with Trump campaign operative Steve Bannon to target users on Facebook. There have also been accusations that the data was used by Russian hackers to target users with fake news and to otherwise manipulate American voters.

The Trump campaign denies there was any collusion. But if you dig a tiny bit, you learn that Cambridge Analytica didn't actually write the code that stole the data, it was a company called GSR (great acronym, right?). The guy who runs GSR is Aleksandr Kogan. When I saw that name a red flag immediately went up.

Who is Aleksandr Kogan?
Dr Kogan – who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan – is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate. But what his fellow academics didn’t know until Kogan revealed it in emails to the Observer (although Cambridge University says that Kogan told the head of the psychology department), is that he is also an associate professor at St Petersburg University. Further research revealed that he’s received grants from the Russian government to research “Stress, health and psychological wellbeing in social networks”. The opportunity came about on a trip to the city to visit friends and family, he said.
There are other dramatic documents in Wylie’s stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer. In an email dated 17 July 2014, about the US presidential primaries, Nix wrote to Wylie: “We have been asked to write a memo to Lukoil (the Russian oil and gas company) to explain to them how our services are going to apply to the petroleum business. Nix said that “they understand behavioural microtargeting in the context of elections” but that they were “failing to make the connection between voters and their consumers”. The work, he said, would be “shared with the CEO of the business”, a former Soviet oil minister and associate of Putin, Vagit Alekperov. 
British researchers working for a Russian professor in England were discussing American elections in a sales pitch to a Russian oil company run by a pal of Vladimir Putin. And then those same people worked with the Trump campaign to target American voters.

If it looks like collision, if it quacks like collusion, it is collusion.

But let's fire Andrew McCabe so we can yell about the Clinton Foundation and Hillary's emails instead.

The NRA Hearts Russia

The FEC is now looking in to whether or not the NRA colluded with Russia to tip the election towards Donald Trump's favor. Here's the best part...

Under FEC procedures, the preliminary investigation is likely to require the NRA to turn over closely guarded internal documents and campaign finance records. Depending on what FEC investigators and lawyers find, the agency could launch a full-blown investigation, impose fines or even make criminal referrals to the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, people familiar with the probe said.

Closely guarded internal documents...campaign finance records...this is starting to smell an awful lot like what was the beginning of the end of the tobacco industry.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Teacher in a Gun Store

Quote of the Day

"Yet this uprising of the young against the ossified, monolithic power of the National Rifle Association has reminded me that the flaws of youth — its ignorance, naïveté and passionate, Manichaean idealism — are also its strengths. Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. Revolutions have always been driven by the young."

---Tim Kreider, from "Go Ahead,Milennials, Destroy Us." 

Friday, March 16, 2018

How Russian Trolls Operate

The above is a very informative video that all of us should use as a benchmark in online discussions. I don't engage in comments with anyone that I don't know personally anymore.

This video also makes me wonder if the former commenters here were actual US citizens are troll farm douchebags. It certainly would make a lot of sense. Even if they weren't, they are still doing the bidding of totalitarians which I find fucking hilarious.

Their hatred of liberals trumps everything else, including being loyal to their country.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Real" Democrats

Since Pennsylvania's special election for a seat vacated by Tim Murphy -- who resigned after it came to light he demanded his mistress have an abortion -- Republicans have been trying to paint the humiliating loss as a win.

Their claim is that the winner, Conor Lamb, isn't a "real" Democrat because he is pro-life, pro-gun and doesn't like Nancy Pelosi.

Let's take these claims one at a time.

Lamb, a Roman Catholic, considers himself "pro-life" because he personally opposes abortion, but he thinks that women should be able to choose for themselves. I'm basically in that same camp: even though we never wanted kids, if my wife had become pregnant I wouldn't have wanted her to have an abortion. Unless she wanted to, or the fetus tested positive for serious birth defects, or if the pregnancy would harm her health.

Most Republicans who consider themselves "pro-life" are actually just anti-abortion, which is really code for denying women control over their own bodies. As Tim Murphy showed, Republicans are all for abortion when it's convenient for them.

But to say that Republicans are pro-life is a joke. Republicans are all for the death penalty. They think people should be able to buy guns and shoot people on the street. They heartily endorse George Zimmerman's murder of Trayvon Martin. How very pro-life of them.

When Trump was in Pennsylvania ostensibly campaigning for the Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate, he proposed the death penalty for drug dealers. I can't find anything describing Lamb's stance on the death penalty, but the Catholic Church is very much opposed to it, and that's where Lamb takes his cues on moral issues. Trump is now taking his cues from a murderous dictator in the Philippines who has had thousands of people killed without trial. How very fascist of him.

On guns, Lamb says that we don't need new laws, we just need to have better background checks. He also said he's open to other measures, but wants to start on issues that have broad agreement. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the NRA's guns everywhere-all-the-time stance. It sounds like he will vote for reasonable limits on firearms if they are brought before the House, which is exactly what the vast majority of Americans want.

And Nancy Pelosi? You don't have to support Nancy Pelosi, the senior Democrat in the House, to be a real Democrat. She's too old, too easily ridiculed, and not the best spokeswoman for the Democratic Party. I think we would be served better by someone younger, who connects with more Americans and isn't the punch line to every Republican joke.

Saying that Nancy Pelosi's time has passed isn't disloyalty, it's acknowledging reality.

And if you want to talk disloyalty, just look at the behavior of Republicans over the past several years with respect to their House leaders.

How many Republicans wanted the head of fellow Republican House Speaker John on a pike? Boehner was forced out of office by angry conservative Tea Party Republicans for not being a big enough dickhead.

How many Republicans right now, today, want the head of Paul Ryan -- the current speaker of the House -- on a pike? Many of them have never forgiven Ryan for refusing to defend Trump's disgusting behavior during the 2016 election. As recently as last October they were writing political obituaries for Ryan.

Real Democrats represent the people of the districts that elect them. Real Republicans consistently represent the Republican party line, which is dictated by the moneyed interests of corporate America.

Conor Lamb represents a right-of-center district in Pennsylvania, so that's how he rolls. Pelosi represents a liberal district in California, so that's how she rolls. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator, represents the centrist views of most Minnesotans. So that's how she rolls.

Democrats from different parts of the country will have different interests because their constituents do, so it's natural that they won't all agree on everything. But they'll work together to find a solution that won't give everyone exactly what they want, but everyone can live with.

That's how democracy is supposed to work.

Republicans, on the other hand, all back Donald Trump and his mo-money tax cuts for oil barons and Wall Street bankers. They back the dismantling of the EPA, allowing the fossil fuel industry to pump more poisons into our air and water. They want to sell off the national parks to mining interests. They want to eliminate Dodd-Frank so Wall Street can repeat the Great Depression of 2008. They want to take away health care for all Americans and destroy the public school system.

Some of them, like my Republican representative, Eric Paulsen, aren't bombastic in their support for Trump's outrageous policies, but they quietly vote for Trump's agenda every time.

The Democratic Party represents all of America, while the Republican Party represents a tiny sliver of the elites. Republicans seem to be so hung up on the idea of duty to party that they'll blindly follow Donald Trump into an authoritarian nightmare, because for them "loyalty" is more important than doing the right thing.

But, as we've seen, Donald Trump is loyal to no one. He constantly insults and stabs his allies in the back. He is immoral, selfish and narcissistic. He lies constantly, and then brags about lying.

From this we can see that Republican loyalty isn't real loyalty, it's fear. Republicans are just knuckling under to bullies -- Trump, campaign contributors, oil barons, Wall Street bankers -- because they're too cowardly to do the right thing for the people they're supposed to represent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

This Is What Happens When You Put Guns in Schools

One of the keystones in the NRA/Republican reaction to mass shootings is the delusion that more guns make us safer. This is what happens when you put guns in schools:
A teacher who is also a reserve police officer trained in firearm use accidentally discharged a gun Tuesday at Seaside High School in Monterey County, Calif., during a class devoted to public safety. A male student was reported to have sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Apparently the student was struck in the neck by some kind of shrapnel when the teacher fired the weapon into the ceiling, making sure that the gun wasn't loaded.

What an idiot! If he'd been at home he could have shot his own child sleeping in the bed upstairs.

You never, ever, ever pull the trigger to make sure a gun is unloaded. To do that, you unload the weapon! For a semi-automatic you remove the magazine, pull back the slide and check for a round in the chamber. If you do this wrong you can shoot yourself, like this ATF agent.

For double-action revolvers you swing out the cylinder and push the extractor rod to force the rounds out. Unloading a single-action revolver (a 170-year-old design that requires pulling back the hammer for each shot) is more complicated and more error-prone, and involves pushing each round out separately. To make matters worse, most revolvers don't have safeties.

The teacher did not have clearance to have a weapon on campus. What the hell was this clown thinking?
Exactly why the teacher was displaying the weapon at all was not entirely clear. Police said he was “providing instruction related to public safety.”

The father told KSBW that the teacher was preparing to use the gun to show how to disarm someone.
Why would anyone in their right mind use a real gun loaded with real rounds for a demonstration? A bright orange plastic water pistol would do the job. If more realism is required, an air gun with the same look and heft would be far safer -- though as we all know from The Christmas Story, you can still shoot your eye out. Or use a decommissioned gun with a plugged barrel.

Most guns are seriously defective products with antiquated design flaws.
This incident points out a major design flaw in firearms design: you can't tell when they're loaded. Guns are not only inherently dangerous, they're seriously defective products with antiquated design flaws that magnify that danger.

Pretty much every product -- from cars, to computers, to microwave ovens, to chainsaws -- has some sort of indicator to show that it is turned on. But not guns.

When you pick up a gun, you have no idea whether it'll go off. Many guns have safeties, but if the safety's off, there's generally no way to tell by looking at a gun whether there's a round in the chamber. For this reason, every single day across the country there are dozens if not hundreds of accidental firearms discharges, even among seasoned professionals like cops and firearms instructors.

Most guns were designed more than a century ago (even modern semiautomatic handguns are clones of the Colt 1911). If there are going to be guns in schools, they should be designed with safety first and foremost. Such guns should have an easily visible indicator of a chambered round and a display for the number of shots remaining in the magazine.

Furthermore, guns in schools should be limited to firing only for authorized personnel ("smart guns"). This would prevent students and perpetrators from stealing and using them.

Almost 500 people were killed in accidental shootings in 2015, and thousands more were injured. The exact number of non-fatal injuries isn't really known, because those statistics aren't tracked -- intentionally, by Congressional order. But they result in billions of dollars of lost wages, as well as health care and funeral expenses.

The NRA has resisted the very idea of smart guns for years. I don't know exactly why: their backers, the firearms industry, would stand to profit handsomely if they could get every gun owner to melt down their old weapons and replace them with safer modern firearms.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The people that cry "fake news" are the ones actually putting it out there

This headline was not surprising.

Informant had no evidence Clinton benefited from uranium sale: Democrats

“Mr. Campbell identified no evidence that Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, or anyone from the Obama Administration took any actions as a result of Russian requests or influence,” the summary says.

It's easy for them to lie because they have so many hate filled assholes that believe them.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How To Buy A Gun In Japan

 Japan 1Take a firearm class and pass a written exam, which is held up to three times a year. 2Get a doctor’s note saying you are mentally fit and do not have a history of drug abuse. 3Apply for a permit to take firing training, which may take up to a month. 4Describe in a police interview why you need a gun. 5Pass a review of your criminal history, gun possession record, employment, involvement with organized crime groups, personal debt and relationships with friends, family and neighbors. 6Apply for a gunpowder permit. 7Take a one-day training class and pass a firing test. 8Obtain a certificate from a gun dealer describing the gun you want. 9If you want a gun for hunting, apply for a hunting license. 10Buy a gun safe and an ammunition locker that meet safety regulations. 11Allow the police to inspect your gun storage. 12Pass an additional background review. 13Buy a gun.

Some countries require buyers to accurately hit a target or demonstrate safe handling procedures.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Trump Tariffs Hurt America, Europe, and South America, Boost Russia

Donald Trumps imposition of global tariffs on steel and aluminum (except for Mexico and Canada) makes no sense.

First off, China is the real villain on metals, and there are already sanctions in place on China for dumping. Trump dismisses this, saying that China is shipping steel through other countries, getting around the existing tariffs. But Trump's own commerce department says only 2% of our steel comes from China.

There's no evidence of any significant transshipping of Chinese steel. And there's no motive for anyone to do it -- there are significant criminal penalties, and competitors are extremely eager to rat you out.

Second, the tariffs will hurt American industry. Wilbur Ross made ridiculous claims about how little steel is used when he said that the price of a $2 can of soup will only go up .6 cents because of the tariffs.

Remember the huge infrastructure projects Trump promised? You know, all the oil pipelines, buildings, roads and bridges Trump will make happen? Those projects literally use tons and tons and tons of steel. They'll all cost a lot more if the price of steel goes up 25%.

Third, it will take a while before American steel producers can ramp up production. And when they do, they'll increase their prices, by probably 20%. Because they can. Giving American producers a monopoly on steel will make everything artificially cost more.

Fourth, other American businesses will take a direct hit from this. Not just from the tariffs that Europe will put on Harley Davidson motorcycles (which will cost more to make because of pricier steel and aluminum), jeans and other signature American products. But because American industry supplies foreign steel producers with raw materials.

For example, Brazil imports metallurgical coal from the United States for use in steel manufacturing. Minnesota exports iron ore and other raw materials used to make steel. Trump's tariffs will hurt all those miners he promised to help during the campaign.

The United States was on track to be a net energy exporter by 2022, but if Trump continues this foolishness for any length of time, that would hurt American natural gas and petroleum exporters, as those industries are natural targets for tariffs in a world that is oversupplied with fossil fuels.

Finally, who really benefits from these tariffs? Russia.

After insulting our European allies for years, Trump is again widening the rifts between the United States and the rest of the world. That inevitably means that Russia gains more power. Europe will drop sanctions against Russia to buy Russian oil and natural gas.

Trump doesn't seem to be colluding with Russia as much as he's a puppet following Putin's orders to hurt America's standing in the world.

The reason that the United States has a trade deficit in the first place is that we are a very rich country. Other countries are able to make steel cheaper than America because their people are poor.

So, yes, Trump's tariffs will eventually eliminate the trade deficit, as American wages drop to the same level as workers in Russia, Brazil, China and Vietnam.

What a lovely vision of the future Trump paints: all the workers in the world making the same dismally low salaries.

If you don't think that's what's on the minds of Trump's cronies in big business, just look at what the stock market does every time the jobs report indicates wage increases (stocks tank) and stagnant wages (stocks soar).