Interesting Items 03/12

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue:

  1. Tariffs
  2. Gun Control
  3. Geek Squad
  4. Energy
  5. Blue Cities
  6. Platforms
  7. PR Wind

  1. Tariffs. While he has been promising tariffs on trade partners that are taking advantage of our laws to protect jobs of American jobs for at least two years, I am torn on the issue as a free marketer.  From a political standpoint, it locks in Trump’s electoral advantage in the formerly blue democrat rust belt states he won for the first time in decades.  And the blue-collar democrats he brought with him love it.  For the rest of us who at some level learned our economics as Friedmanites, not so much as it violates free market purity.  Of course, none of the trade agreements installed free trade, which is one of the reasons that Trump has been blasting away at them for decades.  Rather, most of them were exercises in crony capitalism at some level, choosing corporate winners and losers, allowing businesses in one country to do things that businesses in other countries cannot do.  The 2,000+ page TTP was particularly awful in this regard.  You don’t need 2,000 pages to define free trade.  You need that many pages and words to pick winners and losers, which is yet another reason that Trump is renegotiating trade deals.  One of the things this is uncovering are legal limits to free trade of American goods and services overseas, things most of us never knew or suspected.  President Trump is also renegotiating NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.  The tariff promise appears to be a negotiating tool.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if the president who is roundly blasted for impediments to free trade like tariffs ends up being one of the most free trading presidents ever elected simply by pressuring the bad actors to behave themselves a bit and by cleaning up crony capitalism?  This one is going to be a lot of fun to watch.


  1. Gun Control. Another example of President Trump’s negotiating style took place over the course of the last few weeks, as he appeared to be considering gun control demands from democrats.  He ordered the elimination of bump stocks and spoke about raising the age limit for firearms purchase to 21.  Reaction from the political right was no small amount of shock.  But we have seen this before from him, last with DACA, where he appeared to waffle a bit and considered embracing everything demanded by democrats.  In the end, he was rock solid straight down the Second Amendment protection wish list on the political right with his final position.  He did not abandon or disappoint his political base.  I think this is where he is going to come down with the gun control debate.  Better yet, unlike the political left, Trump actually wants to SOLVE (caps intentional) these problems.  And Limbaugh is warning that he just might, removing it as both a fundraising issue and a community organizing vehicle for the democrats.  As of this writing, it appears that the WH is moving away from raising the age for legal purchase of firearms.  They also look to be strongly backing the notion of arming teachers and other people in the public schools.  Action in the rest of the country has been ragged, as the teacher’s union sponsored community organizing support of the student protests is starting to get significant pushback.  The Florida legislature passed gun control legislation that Governor Rick Scott (candidate for US Senate against incumbent democrat Bill Nelson) signed.  He probably should have vetoed it.  One democrat legislator said in public what the rest of us knows, “this is just a start.”  Finally, we are starting to see lawsuits by 20-year olds against Walmart, Kroger and Dick’s Sporting Goods for age discrimination after both companies changed their policy to no longer sell to customers 18 – 20 inclusive.  These guys are channeling their inner Abbie Hoffman (or Saul Alinsky), maximizing the contradictions, forcing the other side to live up to their own standards.


  1. Geek Squad. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained documents from the FIB that documented a decade long working arrangement between the FIB and Best Buy’s Geek Squad that had them notifying the FIB when they found what appeared to be child porn on computers that were in for repair.  Note the complete lack of warrants to search the hard drives of the computers in for repair.  In at least one case, this discovery was not accidental, as the Geek Squad used forensic software to search for kiddie porn (likely at the behest of the FIB).  They were also paid when they found something, which harkens back to the nasty old joke out of the old Soviet Union that had kids turning in their parents to the KGB in return for pair of new blue jeans.  The EFF is expected to challenge the FIB for withholding other requested documents and refusing to answer questions about whether they had similar relationships with other computer repair companies.  Granted, there are few things worse than kiddie porn.  I think this sort of soft surveillance may unfortunately be one of them.


  1. Energy. Speaking of Russian collusion, the House Committee on Science Space and Technology released a 21-page report detailing how Russia has been using social media to disrupt domestic energy markets and influence domestic energy policies.  We have known for at least a decade that the Saudis were funding green NGOs in an effort to kneecap US energy producers.  Looks like Russia has been in that game for a long time too, which is to be expected, as both nations’ primarily export oil and natural gas, product flows that US energy producers are poised to destroy in the worldwide marketplace in the years to come.  Between 2015 – 2017, there were nearly 9,100 Russian posts or tweets on US energy policy or an energy event on Twitter, FakeBook or Instagram.  There were over 4,300 Russian accounts across all three platforms.  More than 4% of all tweets from one Russian company were related to energy or environmental issues.  The Russian company targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change among other energy issues with the express intent to disrupt cutting edge American technology including horizontal drilling and fracking.  Climate change is an issue of particular interest for the Russians, as it is an outstanding issue used to disrupt new American energy production capability.  Apparently Russian influence is only bad when the political left believes Trump is participating.  When the Russians (and Saudis) participate with Big Green to disrupt American energy production and independence, it is to be celebrated or ignored.


  1. Blue Cities. Six year ago, the Chiefio ran a rather long piece on the tyranny of the blue cities over rural areas of the states.  His conclusions were that there were really not a lot we conservatives can do to stop the move of power from rural to urban.  And given the success of the Curley Effect, whereby democrats have figured out how to use patronage, redistribution of wealth, and class warfare to retain control of cities for decades to half centuries, we can expect that power to continue to shift however slowly from rural to urban communities.  But there is a solution, one that could take a simple act of congress, which would be to repeal the Warren court’s 1964 One Man One Vote opinion which essentially rendered part of the constitution unconstitutional at the state level.  Before the opinion, most state constitutions mirrored the US Constitution, with a House elected by popular vote and a Senate elected by counties or groups of counties (regions).  This was tossed out by the Big Thinkers on Warren’s SCOTUS, essentially rewriting state constitutions nationwide.  Now, they never did have the conversation about what portion of a state is analogous to a state on a national level.  Counties, boroughs and / or parishes would seem to be a good match.  None of this means we stop the effort to break hold of the Curley Effect on the democrat inner cities.  Doing so might be as simple as asking the question Trump asked in 2016: “What do you have to lose?” which worked to some level.  Maybe we need to ask that question more often.  Break the political hold on the ghettos by democrats and we rewrite politics in this nation for a long time.


  1. Platforms. One of the problems conservatives are having online is rolling censorship of all things conservative by the Big Boys – FakeBook, Twitter, Goolag, Instagram, etc.  Usually this censorship is imposed without warming via the excuse that the new system outage was some sort of programming accident.  But little is accidental with the Big Boys, as it invariably seems that the political right is always targeted.  So what options do we have as conservatives for social media platforms?  There are several, though I do not have a current list, but there are several places to start the discussion.  For example, Conservapedia may be a replacement for Wikipedia; Tea Party Community for FakeBook; Ritely for Reddit; Conservative Fact Check for Snopes; Reagan Mail for Gmail; AMAC for AARP; for Google; and GAB for Twitter.  Most of these are much smaller than the applications they are replacing.  Our side must never be held hostage to or allow what we do online to be controlled by one of the large players just because they are initially more convenient.  Silicon Valley has demonstrated time and again that they are not to be trusted with opinions and people who do not agree with them or their view of the world.


  1. PR Wind. You would think that having windmills in a part of the world that has the occasional hurricane roll thorough would not be a big problem.  After all, the machines are designed for wind speeds more than what their top operational design speeds are.  And you would be wrong.  Latest example of this comes from Puerto Rico, which is now five months after Hurricane Maria’s landfall.  First, the basics:  Puerto Rico has 3.6 million people, many of whom are moving to Florida.  Its total budget is around $10 billion / year.  It is also $70 billion in debt.  Five months after landfall, one in six, 15% are still blacked out.  The storm completely wiped out all solar and much of the wind generation (yet another drawback to renewables).  One wind farm that survived the storm sat idle for weeks because no grid existed to hook into (wind is highly variable in output and must have a larger grid to mitigate the huge variations in output).  Worse still is PR’s power authority, which has been funneling free energy to all 78 of PR’s municipalities, many of its government-owned enterprises, and for some well-connected businesses.  And it has done this for decades.  But they had enough money to go green, renewable, fragile, and expensive.  Nothing like expensive generation when the lights go out.

More later –

– AG


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