Thursday, August 2, 2018

Trump's false message

I don't know who I am writing this for, but here goes.

President Trump goes to give rallies and makes bold generalizations and follows that by "believe me!" It's not like any of the people there are to go home to check on these claims. They already believed them before he said them. There is a tendency of people in a country such as ours that has two major parties to believe that people supporting the other party, not yours, do all the bad things.

Trump claims Democrats are unpatriotic. False. They don't spend enough on defense. False, there was never a reduction on spending. Welfare ended in the Clinton era and is no longer the safety net it once was, though some is left. Trump is financing all his grandiose things, military and tax cuts, by borrowing. when the bill comes, he is no longer president.

Some of his claims are ridiculous. Foreigners do not commit all the crimes, in fact it makes no sense to commit crimes. If you are working illegally, you are more likely to be caught after a crime, then deported. Just do your job and lay low. If you have a green card and commit a serious crime, the card is taken away and you are jailed or deported.

Trump claims are also stereotypes. Blacks are lazy, Mexicans are rapists. There is no truth to any of it, though poor people do end up in desperate situations where a wealthier person would not. The stereotypes only exist for his followers to nod to and think "yeah, I though so. Tell them, Trump!"

Democrats are soft on crime. Really? And where it happens, it is not a bad thing. The liberal judges we support give shorter sentences. But maybe that is because we do not want to support the private prison industry. That industry is also making good profit on the illegals arrested, instead of being deported with no time in prison. You are paying for that. You are paying for the detained children too, more than they  would cost if they were with their parents. Other than that, drug possession and small time use (legal in many states) is not really treated well by locking up the accused for years.

These things Trump brings up are certainly there, and we even have gangs he mentions. But most of this is never going to affect life in suburbia where most of the white voters for Trump live. Even less in rural areas. The prescription opiate epidemic hit all of the middle of the country because they were legal. All you had to do was go to the nearest drug store.

Trump also likes to reward evangelicals. And his claims are not wong: Democrats support abortion rights. That may be some of the small long term effect he will have. The supreme court does not change often. The right wing judges are on Trump’s side. They want small government and side with corporations over citizens.

Perhaps the white working class voter thought it was a package deal? Guns babies and Jesus, check. American dream, check. Foreigners out, check.  Not so fast. The American dream is just a trick. You have not improved your standard of living for 50 years. Trickle down economics does not work. You are worse off than your parents, as healthcare is more expensive past the age of 50. It may cure your cancer, but you will die penniless if you make it to age 90.

Environmental damage can be undone more quickly after Trump is gone. It is all EPA and executive order, the law has not changed. There is no "clean coal". Trump simply repeats stuff he hears. Some directly from Fox and Friends. If your world is Fox News and Trump, you can be safe in your make believe world for a couple of years, but it cannot last.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trump on shaky ground near treason

As we all know, president Trump went to Helsinki to prop up his shaky claim to the presidency. He called his first witness: Vladimir Putin.

He claims the FBI is unreliable. There is no evidence of this, as testified by the FBI agent whose phone texts had been examined for months. He said "we must stop him", referring to us voters (not the FBI). That is the task now, in the 2018 election. Unfortunately Trump supporters are still 100% behind him. Because they voted for him. They can’t admit that their abortion/tax/immigrant/etc stance put a dangerous man in the White House. It is in fact hard for anyone to come to terms that they supported the wrong guy. Losing a job might finally do it.

Trump's actions will come out within his four years, and whatever he did will be in the press before the 2020 election. It is not appropriate for a president to be a conspiracy theorist and certainly not to commit treason. My belief is that Russia owns him by immense loans channeled to him over the years. Russia has his mortgage, by several intermediaries.

People who voted for Trump and went to the rallies are pretending nothing happened. These people are still holding on to the birther era Obama conspiracies, so we know the change is slow. Plus they voted Trump so they will never admit they were wrong, that the man is an actual danger to the US. Out here there is a chance to think that all that stuff is "out in Europe" or "out in Russia" and does not affect us. But the world affairs are not that simple that you can just order China for example. The tariffs will be felt by every American by 2020.

But we will see. I'll just post a campaign ad to explain that. Good luck to all brave candidates challenging the increasingly ridiculous GOP candidates standing behind Trump. The entire Trump experience has shaken the principles of Democracy here on the prairie as well, but apparently other things are more important to Trump voters.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What was it about Obama the right hated?

The Trump voters hated him as both black and "foreigner."

The times were mostly stable in the Obama years after the bail out of the Bush catastrophe. Obama inherited most foreign touchy spots from Bush, but Libya may have been new.

Yet the talk radio guys and the far right absolutely hated his liberal policy and foreign policy. On the one hand insurance was labeled BIG government. The foreign policy was the confusing part to me.

Only now with Trump in charge do I understand what they wanted. They did not want a diplomat or negotiator with Europe or with war torn countries. They wanted an autocrat. A leader of the "free world" who does not negotiate. He announces policy and "others must follow." This goes for trade, NATO, everything.

I'm glad we got that cleared up then. For them an asshole is a perfect leader. He is in Europe trying to break up the EU now.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2018 elections

The 2018 elections are turning out to be a for Trump or against Trump run, even though the people running are congress members. The rural people strongly supported Trump, and even the most reluctant Republican in the middle is running as a Trump supporter. Many voters in the rural areas believed in the "draining the swamp" and "he's just getting started" goals. farmers in the plains have for generations thought of themselves as businessmen. In addition corporations own many farms. Rural people go with supporting the independent spirit of farming and somehow associate Republicans as support for farming. The farm bill is actually dictated by corporations so I don't know what is left of this independence.

There were in fact some libertarians voting in 2016. These people might be excused for voting Trump in that they have somehow gotten in their heads that all government is bad. Cut down government? Count me in! These people are not necessarily racist, and often disagree with the large group of Evangelicals here on the the prairie on social issues, mainly abortion. Their views on immigrants vary.

The news have run some editorials on Trump giving him more credit for his second year. It seems he is getting a few more things done, despite botching the immigrant children issue. One thing that makes the editorial writers more confident is Trump naming the new justice. However, it does not really change the voters any, in fact liberals are even more opposed to Trump and any GOP senator or congressman in the November election. Voter turnout will be good due to this divisiveness in the country.

The opposite is true of Colorado on the left as well as New Mexico below it. There are areas with Indian reservations such as in South Dakota, and the Democrats carry those. Nebraska has just two big cities and the Democrats carry those in presidential elections. The congresspeople are now all Republicans with one "sleeper" Democratic candidate running for the senate seat. Senator Fischer is a one term senator who has gone to Washington and supported Trump 100%. She has not gotten involved in farm state issues and a was a key player getting the education secretary approved. She has angered more Democrats in her state than recent Tea Party leaning senators or congressmen.

Ben Sasse has turned out to be a talker. He criticizes Trump, then:

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has written some witty tweets and interesting Facebook posts critical of the Trump administration. However, he has voted consistently with the administration: yes on the tax bill, yes on Obamacare repeals, yes on every executive branch nomination save one, yes on federal judge nominations and no on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

Kansas has no senate seat in the race and the recent past does not suggest a Democrat would have much chance in a national election. They do have a congressional Democratic candidate with some hope, Brent Welder, who worked on Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.  Oklahoma is entirely red.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Trade Wars

Trump's claims about foreigners and jobs have all turned out to be false. The jobs and the products will go abroad no matter what he does. Tariffs caused just that: Harley Davidson will make motorcycles for Europe abroad, due to Trump.

How long will it take for Trump followers to realize that just Trump repeating a statement over and over does not make it true? This authority is incompetent, he does not need respect.

Trump has told his followers that trade with Mexico is unfair, trade with Canada is unfair. No explanation is needed for the followers, as they know the world is unfair to the US! The countries don’t let us sell cheaper GMO products, or maybe cheese. The problem with farm goods is that most countries exclude certain farm products from international agreements. This is for the purpose of keeping some food production at home. It is not a good idea to import 90% of your food, there could be some event that leaves you without food.

But we trade fancy finished goods. Let’s take an example. Two factories make 1000 cars in a month. In Mexico they make 1000 red Malibus. In Alabama they make 1000 blue Malibus. No red Malibus are made in USA. US buyers want some red Malibus. With cheaper labor, 150 red Malibus are sent to US at Mexican bulk price. Mexicans want some blue Malibus. In exchange for the same money, 100 American blue Malibus are sent over.

Mexicans end up 50 Malibus less.  They sell all the 850 remaining Malibus to Brazil, who were willing to pay more than Americans.

Can this sort of unbalanced trade with a low wage country be fixed with tariffs? Not really. If the Mexicans end up selling the Malibus to the US with a price that is the price we pay, the tariff just ends up with our government. We then sell Malibus with to Mexico with 0% tariff. The Mexicans still lose.

Trump has convinced his followers that tariffs somehow allow us to control trade. If we put tariffs on products coming in, the selling country will do the same to us. Both governments collect tariffs but consumers lose.

Initial reports of the war with China claim Trump is winning and the stocks will not suffer. But there are always people paid to write optimistic articles and columns in financial papers and major newspapers. These are there for the purpose of making people "trust" stocks. You can look at stocks yourself and see which ones depend the most on trade.

Conservative business minded peopled have looked at tariffs. They analyze jobs, income, consumption of goods. From the internet:

Let’s look at an example of how that happens. The U.S. government decides to implement a tariff that will “saves” 1,200 full-time jobs at a tire plant.
Each of the saved jobs pays an average wage of $40,070 a year ($20.69 per hour). Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s a policy we should support.
But what if I told you that those 1,200 jobs cost the American consumer $900,000 each? Oh, and while 1,200 jobs were created, it came at a cost to the American economy of 2,531 jobs. That might make us reconsider whether the policy was all that beneficial.
Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical situation: it’s the real-world effect of a tariff on Chinese tires.
In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that, “over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires.” What he failed to mention is that for every tire job that was “saved” two other jobs were lost or not created and that each job “saved” cost Americans an additional $900,000 a year.

If the workers only got $40,070, what happened to the other $859,930? It went into the pockets of the tire companies, many of which are not even located in the U.S. When the companies pushed for the tariffs to “save American jobs” what they were really doing was increase their own profits by preying on the economic ignorance of the American public about the effects of tariffs. (Crony capitalists are gifted in finding ways to get the public to support policies that make them richer while making other citizens poorer.)
 (From ACTON INSTITUTE POWERBLOG: Why tariffs and protectionism make Americans poorer)

We will still buy the goods we need and spend the same amount of money. We will just get a smaller TV, or a product with less features for the same money as before.
This sort of analysis is too complicated for the Trump voter to get. They, including the pig farmer in Iowa still coming to grips with export tariffs, refuse to believe Trump is wrong, simply a clever bullshitter who knows his audience.

Friday, June 1, 2018 it safe to eat GMO corn?

(Thanks to a few shares, I now have 76 views by June 3 of this entry)
Corn and soybeans are the main products grown with GE (genetically engineered) seeds. If you are afraid of GE/GMO crops, you could just stop eating corn. Soybean product may end up in some processed foods, but it is a lesser amount. Possibly Chinese food, if that is your daily meal. Golden rice is a modified rice, read the package. White rice is not.

Both soybean oil and corn oil end up in a lot of food products. I would judge them to be the least harmful, potentially, as they contain very little protein, starch etc. from the corn. I doubt corn oil from GMO corn and non-GMO corn could be easily identified as different. The amount of pesticide or herbicide in the oil is defined by the FDA but is generally low. If you insist on "organic" corn oil, it is available by a simpler pressing process. The industrial process of the big giants is very much a man made process and is aimed at getting all the components out of the corn. Industrial corn oil has additives to prevent it from going rancid (air oxidized).

Wheat has never been sold as a GE product, mainly because Canada want to export its wheat to Europe.

You still want to eat corn, you say. Well, your restaurant is unlikely to serve non-gmo tortillas and corn chips. You have those in the food aisles of most stores in the health food section.

But you want to know more details? I can direct you to two books. One is in its 4th edition soon. It argues that the GMO foods may be unsafe. In particular Bt toxin in the food, a protein, is a possible food allergen to some.

GMO Myths book

Another book is a rather militant attack on Monsanto. It clearly outlines the somewhat roundabout process by which food safety is established. And it is a different task. Foods are processes in the same way that drugs are, but the FDA job is often to ban processes or recall contaminated lots after the fact.
Marie Monique Robin book on Monsanto:

 Monsanto itself prefers review articles which state invariably that "the weight of the evidence is that GM corn is safe." But they do have long lists of articles to follow up on. The NSA just published a book about 680 pages long, free a s pdf. It promotes GE foods without a shame. "Science is our solution." These sort of team efforts never allow for rebuttals.

I tracked down just using google scholar an article on Roundup, which is used to grow the GMO corn in high yield. In my opinion it is toxic, and does end up somewhere in the environment. Most of it decomposes, unlike herbicides of the old days. Here we find that Roundup, as does its active ingredient, affects the mammalian aromatase enzyme:

Aromatase is an enzyme in the chain that leads to synthesis of estrogen.

The sweeping generalizations of the review articles never point out such obvious effects. Here I would say that the farmer spraying Roundup is more in danger than we are.

While we are on the topic of Roundup, many books and articles mention that "chemical" farming relies on "petrochemicals." This is wrong. The chemical industry is vast, and the majority of chemicals (in numbers, not tons) are not made from oil derived starting materials. They may use heptane or toluene to run chemistry as the solvent, but here is the synthesis of glyphosate (main ingredient of Roundup):
The phosphorus derivative is inorganic, derived from phosphoric acid, the second piece is formaldehyde. Look it up in Wikipedia for fun. The third piece is glycine, the most common amino acid. It is an industrial chemical, though the amino acid supplement comes from protein as a food item.

But back to corn. Sometimes you just need your corn and you think, what can one bag of popcorn hurt? There we also note that some of these food effects may not be seen for decades, as diet and health are very difficult things to study. Healthy subjects do not volunteer to eat GMO food under controlled studies for ten years.

But you are in luck. Pop corn is not yet GMO:
My objections to GMO crops are that the farmer is sort of forced into them. The seeds are expensive and the treatments then guarantee a crop, unless you are unable to water the crop. Nothing else would ruin it. But we have survived for hundreds of years on a variety of crops. Monoculture in general is not a good way to go. In fact it could even be a trap, where all the "engineering" fails in a short time and nature catches up with our tricks.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


The politics in the US have become sort of entertainment rather than actual policy. Trump became president by various means and the public certainly was manipulated with simple messages that were easy to grasp. Perhaps he even intended to Make America great again. But Puerto Rico is still without a working electrical grid and many Puerto Ricans are living in motels in Florida paid by some funds. A strong president would have got the funds and a clean contract to fix it by now. Even the first contractor was awarded the job by party loyalty and donations to the party.

Trump's unifying theme of "foreigners" allows him to mess with anything that deals with jobs and goods from abroad, such as tariffs.

But there really is no plan. Republicans are using Trump to achieve tax cuts and are just laying low to get through the November elections. After that they may want to go ahead with cutting more Big Government, funds to healthcare and so on.

Frank Thomas has scolded Democrats of elitism. We do not represent the working classes anymore. They share much of the "guns babies and Jesus" principles with Republicans. That includes patriotism, respect for the law and military. The white evangelicals will stand up for the national anthem and will even block Netflix for making a deal with Obama. Recently there was a book by Yascha Mounk where the author seems to have neglected the hundred year old history of populism. But indeed, the current trend of nationalism and populism does seem to have only right wing ideology. Brexit and Trump are cut from the same cloth.

Frank: By “populism” Yascha Mounk means the species of nasty rightwing politics associated with Trump and various European bad guys such as the leaders of Hungary and Poland. He uses the word as a kind of synonym for racist tyranny, and in his account populist politicians are villainous in ways that go beyond the profession’s conventions. Populists, he informs us, tell lies.

The populists of the 1800s and early 1900s were much more leftist once upon a time, but still white Christians and were involved with religion and even the Scopes "monkey trial."

Looking at this from the outside, my friend from Australia sums it up:

To me, it is completely about the loss of any serious, thought-out ideology (whether left or right) or policies which have a rational goal of improving people's lives, and a reliance on purely following (and sometimes creating) uninformed public opinion to capture the democratic vote. It is the cynical politics of the advertising executive...

Things like healthcare are simply not an issue to people that have jobs and insurance. Why should they want to give Obamacare to those "liberals in the cities" who do not want to work? Never mind that most small employers, such as a hair cutting franchise of a fast food franchise, do not provide insurance to full time employees.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A PR Problem: What Does Government Do?

In our 2016 election, there were all kinds of elements at work, but underneath it all is a long-term distrust of the federal government. The government uses regulations to control industries and tells people what to do. The states are allowed some of these functions, as people tend to know people on school boards, natural resource and water districts, utilities etc. The people do see the need to decide where the power line goes.

We are facing issues of climate and water and food. The favoritism of new solutions over old ones is seen as corruption. Supporting old ways (burning coal) is not. I have convinced several people that tar sands is a bad product, but when I turn to climate issues, they dismiss it as “I don’t feel it’s any warmer.”

We had a governor’s race a few years back. The guy that wanted to be governor bought his way in. His solutions were not solutions, just standard Republican policy. Taxes, school vouchers, NRA support. His main claim seemed to be “my opponent is a Democrat!” A rural community development program run by that Democrat seemed to be working, then federal funding disappeared. His fault! And Governor is of course Pro-Life! Republicans are never pro-future-of-the-planet, though that would seem to be tied up with that life.

Water issues are important to people West of Iowa and Missouri. The plains states all have futures dependent on water and climate change. Water is something that is under local control. People from both parties and each county get involved. Ranching is done where there is not enough water to grow crops, though some special crops are grown where the climate and studies allow it, such as sugar beets.

Climate change is Al Gore and “all those East coast liberals.” Yet, Iowa has capitalized on wind power, where the others further West have not. Some of that has to do with power needs locally. The one definite advantage of coal is that big cities have rail and you can transport coal to most cities. Rural areas seem to use electrical power from the nearest major city, but there are plants that support a number of towns of 10-20 thousand population.

Also, one sparsely populated state has made use of wind power: “The state of South Dakota is a leader in the U.S. in wind power generation with over 30.4% of the state's electricity generation coming from wind in 2015. South Dakota has 583 turbines with a total capacity of 977 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity.” (Wikipedia).

Our governor is not interested. He has taken coal money and NRA money. The counties with enough population would all benefit from wind power tax money. The energy generated in a county can be taxed there, as well as the property. Even Trump era tariffs would not hurt it as they do solar power (panels are made in China). The massive parts of windmills are made in the US. We have cities that are willing to ignore the governor and will build wind farms if a company moving to the area requires it. Wind power has some fluctuations, so we will actually need to invent better ways of storing power.

The electrical grid is wider for the same number of customers supported compared to traditional plants. Also, distances of greater than 20km (from where the wind is) currently are difficult to handle for the low voltage generated. To put it another way, immense amounts of power generated by coal power stations can immediately be transformed to very high voltage near the plant. Normal power plants and the transmission at higher voltage will carry power over 400km. The handling of power substations and transformers will no doubt be improved.

Investing in wind turbines alone is sometimes a problem. Germany had a problem of producing “too much power”. The interaction with coal plants is not optimized there. New, better grids are being built, but states and countries will need to decide to pay for those. As it is, wind power is reaching many communities already. In the US, the leading states (% power by wind) are:

Iowa (36.6%)
South Dakota (30.3%)
Kansas (29.6%)
Oklahoma (25.1%)
North Dakota (21.5%)

Those areas certainly include much of the windy prairie. Our one major wind farm with 400 wind turbines does not rank well with those but is generating a lot of income: $2.6 million in property tax revenue to the the county.

If you wish to look at a map of the major wind farms and a list of the power generated, here is the Wikipedia link. 

All power plants are listed in Wikipedia as well. We have both coal and nuclear, and as we have a public utility setup, the state owns the plants. The operation of them can be handed over by contract to companies. As the state owns the plants, the most conservative politicians will insist on burning coal as long as possible. There is still no limit in coal supply, compared to other fuels.

Our governor has a cheap solution. No investment needed: let’s not build anything at all. It is not part of his agenda. Others blame red tape in the process investors must undertake in our state.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Guns and America, a Turning Point?

Some states have already taken gun control measures, as much as they can within the law. This may not be such a quick event as it was years ago in the UK, when hand guns were banned. But you have to start somewhere.

But, this week, protests across the country have definitely made the NRA more unpopular. Yound people spoke out.

These were high school students that organized a protest that 1000-1500 attended. This in a college town where there may be a bit more "radical" or Democrat element than the average city in the middle of the land.

This does look like a tipping point in politics. Even Republicans may not be as easily bought off by the NRA from now on.

The 2018 elections will show more of what is going to happen. The era of Trump may be just a couple of years.

One must keep in mind that American politics swings back and forth. So progress takes place, but it may be two steps forward, one step back.

State level politics may be even more difficult to swing to gun control. Our governor is a firm NRA supporter. The job was pretty much bought with his own money added to NRA money. The death penalty was a big item as well. He wanted to keep it and apparently slightly over half also do.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Free Trade

Trump has said a lot of things. He made a lot of promises and a lot of them blamed “foreigners.” Aside from Trump, it seems a worthwhile to actually look at how free trade works. The economists will tell Trump that what he seems to be wanting to do cannot be done. It was not even clear how his or his helpers’ thought process worked until this week. Recently they stated:

”Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he would pull the U.S. out of NAFTA if the partner countries don’t agree on a new version with mechanisms designed to balance trade in the bloc. The Trump administration is seeking to update the original labor provisions with stronger rules aimed at lifting the salaries of Mexican manufacturing workers, whom many U.S. officials blame for taking American factory jobs.”

Before we leave Trump, it must be pointed out that his advisers have indeed found something Trump can do without Congress: Trump is imposing the tariffs under a provision of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that allows the president to do so for reasons of national security. That rationale has rarely been used, trade experts said, and it could lead other countries to cite their own national security to restrict imports of U.S.-made products.

Trade agreement deal with goods. They list goods that are traded and they can list some crops that the signing parties want to exclude from trade agreements. They do not include minimum wage. You cannot raise minimum wage in Mexico with trade agreements. You can demand them to do it and threaten to pull out if they don’t. The other thing is trade balance. We basically sell some high end products to Mexico and then we export food or animal feed. We have comparatively more land than other developed countries. The buying and selling does not balance out between two partners and does not even balance if you look at it world-wide. We can only use money to carry out these transactions. Somebody ends up owing money to some other group at the end of the year. It is similar to government spending. Who do we owe money to in out national debt? It could be foreign banks, government or it could even be American citizens buying bonds.

Nevertheless, these are complex issues that are not even possible to control by trade agreements. Economists tend to blame the cheap producers: “On the other hand, Joseph Stiglitz points out that countries running surpluses exert a "negative externality" on trading partners, and pose a threat to global prosperity, far more than those in deficit.” Economists also are not terribly worried about long term effects. One thing it can affect is a country’s GDP which can eventually have negative effects: “Exports directly increase and imports directly reduce a nation's balance of trade (i.e. net exports). A trade surplus is a positive net balance of trade, and a trade deficit is a negative net balance of trade. Due to the balance of trade being explicitly added to the calculation of the nation's gross domestic product using the expenditure method of calculating gross domestic product (i.e. GDP), trade surpluses are contributions and trade deficits are "drags" upon their nation's GDP.(Wikipedia).”

Between the US and the EU, trade agreements have not been completed. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth.

The United States imposes a 2.5-percent tariff on cars assembled in Europe and a 25-percent tariff on European-built vans and pickup trucks. Europe imposes a 10-percent tariff on U.S.-built cars.

The United States had a $22.3 billion automotive vehicle and parts trade deficit with Germany in 2017 and a $7 billion deficit with the United Kingdom, according to U.S. government data.

The tariffs may change but the deficits will not.

All it really does is allow cheaper imported goods to be bought by citizens living in both countries as there is no tariff.

Trump can be so confusing. He claimed he wanted better trade deals. He did not want ANY trade deals. Hr simply wanted to put up tariffs country by country, then use this as some kind of leverage. Typical rich guy negotiating. Use your size to force deals:

The 14 months since Trump stomped into the White House have been a different kind of raw for the Japanese establishment—and increasingly unappetizing for a government that prizes strong U.S. ties above any other relationship.

Dating back to the 1980s, Trump was among America’s most vocal Japan critics. In 1989, the real estate mogul said Japan “systematically sucked the blood out of America” and called for a 20 percent tariff on all its goods. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump called for Japan to pay more for Washington’s security blanket (weapons).

And so it goes, on and on. Some few countries get preferred status.