Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 26, 2018

Taiwan held something akin to a “mid-term” election this past Saturday. The people revolted against the previous revolt. When electing the DPP two years ago, the people were fed up with the capitulation policies of Ma. Now, they are fed up with bad management of infrastructure, also an “establishment culture” surfacing in what should be the “opposition party”, among other grievances. Taiwan’s government cautioned China to wait and see how the election affects cross-strait policy before jumping to any conclusions—because they think China can’t figure that out.

China’s government and the Western press are going head to head. China held the American children of an estranged father and money laundering defendant. The New York Times made sure to plaster the picture of the young adult brother and sister at the top of the story. Exploiting children to sway outcomes just isn’t fair.

But, it didn’t stop at children. The New York Times also posted about cheap labor building Chinese AI. And, Forbes published an article with a graph that makes it look like China’s economy has bottomed out. The battle between China and its great and powerful foe—the Western press—rages on. China is at an unfair disadvantage, but presses forward fearlessly and valiantly.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 19, 2018

In Taiwanese politics, a mayor candidate’s comments about his own benefits from drinking honey-lemonade sparked retribution from the medical community. After a lump under his eye went away, apparently from a vegetarian and honey-lemonade diet, he actually said so. A professional from a hospital was quick to weigh in. It’s understandable. If people learned that honey could cure disease, hospital profits would plunge. More importantly, Taiwanese political debates would become outright boring without the ability to, as the saying goes, make lemonade from political debates.

But, lemonade really is important. Google search results even saw a spike after this essential talk of Taiwanese politics made news.

Meanwhile, at the ASEAN summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for nations to come together at a time when Southeast Asian stability was under threat. In anticipation of APEC after ASEAN, Mike Pence started talking tough, wanting results and genuine action from China concerning an even-flow of trade. He elaborated, that the US has a quarter of a billion dollars in tariffs and isn’t afraid to go twice as high as well as take more “diplomatic” action. It was a strong “they know that we know that they know what we think” remark, the kind that precedes otherwise objectionable action to make the action unobjectionable.

Later, at APEC, Pence warned of returning to a “cold war” while making plans for a US-Australian naval base in Papua New Guinea. Rather than dropping its tilted tariffs on goods, China has been openly gearing up for all out war three weeks. APEC ended without a written agreement between member nations for the first time ever because of the disagreements between the US and China.

This past weekend, Taiwan did something that China despises every bit as much as it cannot identify with: Taiwan hosted democratic election campaigns. With all the strong rhetoric concerning Taiwan, independence, and China’s loudly and often-spoken determination to invade Taiwan, there shouldn’t be any question where China’s war-in-preparation will start and why America will easily get involved.

America is already involved in Taiwan to quite an extent. AIT, the unofficial yet de facto US embassy in Taiwan, had an interview scheduled for release with a large TV network in Taiwan. But, after the interview, the TV network, TVBS, scrapped the interview. So, AIT shared the interview in its Facebook page, rather than relying on TVBS.

With the history lessons about Taiwan in almost every Taiwan-related story in the Western press, Americans will take an advancement against Taiwan as an advancement against themselves. China would be perceived as an aggressor and rightly so. Everything the US has done to provoke and irritate China would have only worked if China possessed the old school “Asian Pride” that Sun Tzu warned against, a pride that can’t be permitted in a world’s superpower because such pride is easily provoked just as much as it is easily shattered. Hardened pride makes for brittle peace. That’s something that the entire West won’t allow, the US notwithstanding.

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Encore of Revival: America, November 12, 2018

This was an astonishing victory for Republicans for any year, especially a controlling party midterm. Senate Republicans have rarely held this many seats since the FDR days except Reagan and W Bush. Losses in the House were among the lowest losses for a controlling party midterm. By gaining seats in the Senate, Republicans are winning the long game. We are headed for a possible supermajority by the end of Trump’s second term. In the next two years, House Democrats will have just enough power to be irritating, but not enough to make any difference, other than helping Trump get re-elected in 2020.

Democrats are darned if they do and darned if they don’t. Trump’s appointees can be approved faster and impeachment in the House would die in the Senate. Opposition party power is good for presidential elections. Trump’s best course of action would be to deliver the strongest Conservative proposals so Democrats can go on record as obstructionists. The best course of action for Democrats would be to talk and vote like Republicans, which has always been historically favorable, proven with Democratic Rahm Emanuel -led “blue dog” victory in 2006.

Results are still being counted. At last count, Democrats gained 30 seats in the House and had control of the House by 7. Most of those states had Democratic Senate and gubernatorial victories. In this victory for Democrats, nothing seems out of the ordinary. The election results appear to be real and fair; Democrats won the House fair and square.

The question of some after-election counting and recounting, however, seems sketchy. The Arizona Senate race looks like a lost cause for the Republican candidate. Arguably from Senate voting records, the Arizona seat up for grabs was not gained by Democrats except in name only. That Senate seat will be up the election Trump leaves office. But, that’s a different story from a cluster of recount fiascos in Florida and Georgia, where recounting is a matter of procedure, not questionable results. The losers in those elections are pushing in hopes that close results can easily be tipped. If recounts were to change those results, that would open bigger questions, bigger objections, and bigger investigations. So far, the number of ballots in question would not change the results; miscounts would.

Even with the ground Republicans took, Democrats outspent Republicans by roughly $300M. Ironically, Democrats campaign on a platform of opposing big money and suspect business man Trump of trying to buy the presidency. The spending was bad optics for them.

Trump’s proved helpful on the campaign trail. Many Republicans who pushed him away lost. Senate Republicans defeated incumbents in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Senate Republicans also held vacant seats in Tennessee and Utah. 26 Republicans retired, more than any midterm year since 1974, the greatest retirements being 27 in 2008.

FDR holds both the greatest midterm gain and midterm loss since his time as president. After FDR, the greatest midterm loss was Obama’s first midterm. The greatest midterm gain in the Senate was Trump, the second-greatest being JFK with +3. This was a favorable midterm year for Republicans. But, already you read that right here at Pacific Daily Times before the election. So, while Republicans had a historic election, Pacific Daily Times has set a new standard for accuracy in the media.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 5, 2018

China is less and less popular in the news. It’s almost conspiracy-like—how much negative news comes out against China in the Western press at once.

The Trump administration backs Micron with legal action against Fujian Jinhua, an American company vs a Chinese company, over tech theft. At the same time, Jeff Sessions suddenly decides to appear in front of cameras and decry China for cyberspying on the US—a completely unrelated matter except that it is bad press for China. Then, the Taipei Times runs a front page story on illegal Chinese crabs being imported, but not passing a health inspection, with involved companies given a hefty fine, while pushing a North Korean nuke “restart” story to page five! The Taipei Times ran another front page story of China creating fake social media accounts to meddle in Taiwan’s upcoming midterm election.

The truthfulness of this flood of anti-China news is not as important as its timing and priority among headlines. Popular sentiment is more powerful than missiles in a conflict between nations. On that front, the West has already won. Don’t think for a moment that missiles won’t follow to secure what the war of words already won by a deck stacked in the news.

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Encore of Revival: America, October 8, 2018

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh opens a new problem for Conservatives: supermajority. Any unchecked party is dangerous. Breyer and Ginsberg are aging. If one of them resigns or passes within the foreseeable election future, the Supreme Court would be packed with Conservative, Republican judges. Justice Kennedy had been a swing vote, a kind of wild card on the court. That time is gone. We live in a new era of a truly Republican court.

The path leading the country to this Republican control, however, was too bumpy to make Republican voters lazy. Had Democrats played friendly and kind, the coming wrath of the Republican voter wouldn’t have become so big as we will see in November. With polls being reported as hopeful for Democrats, we could see even more Republicans provoked to vote in 2018 than in 2016. It almost seems as if Democrats and the media are in some kind of secret cooperation to push Republican voters.

With the economy clipping along and so many kept promises from Trump, who has a 50% job approval rating, Republican progress looks likely. There are many states reportedly in play, but that amounts to 44 Senate seats secure for Democrats and 48 secure for Republicans. The reported tossup is a steeper climb for Democrats than Republicans and, with the Kavanaugh turbulence, Republican voters won’t be staying home.

In the minds of Democrat voters, a strong Republican court makes them paranoid that Republican police could come to their homes any minute now and burn them alive for flying rainbow flags. This kind of hysteria has been cultivated by Democratic propaganda, though never stated directly, being intended to get Democratic votes, though its effects will be dangerous when those votes aren’t enough to win elections.

Republican strategy went correctly. By confirming Kavanaugh, Republicans acted like Republicans, which always brings out the Republican vote. Loss has always brought out Democratic demonstration. While we may be looking at an unusual mid-term victory for the president’s party next month, we could also be looking at riots soon after. And, in America just as we see in the swelling #WalkAway movement, the aftermath of riots leads to one thing: repentance.

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