Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 24, 2018

Google has gone off the deep end. The level of insanity matches The Bridge over the River Kwai. Actually helping China spy—Are Google execs loopy? From a Chinese company inside China that would make sense. But, Google is American. As if helping a non-ally spy isn’t enough, social media giants are already in trouble over censorship in the US. Google could be in bigger trouble with the White House than Wall Street is.

Taiwan hasn’t wasted any time irritating China. Now, a temple that was bought seven years ago by a Taiwanese business man, which was then converted into a “shrine to Chinese communism”, is having the lights and water turned off as the local government prepares to demolish the whole place. That won’t wash over well for anyone hoping to court friendship with China.

China seems to be taking the hint and finally getting offended. Beijing cancelled a trip to talk trade with Washington after figuring out that tariffs were set by imbalance and retaliation rather than rhetoric. As for the two steering factors—imbalance and retaliation—China shows no indication of making concessions. But, it’s not the tariffs or trade talks that deserve the headlines as much as the insults mounting against China.

The US is going after Russia for selling weapons to China. That’s even more irritation. And, China is even more angry. If we were to analyze the events of the past few months, even years more subtly, it could seem that angering China was an accident. But, the recent past makes more sense, just as events are more easily anticipated, if we consider that the US is irritating China on purpose. Expect more insults from the US, along with Taiwan.

And, Korea. Yes, the two nations are getting along. That won’t work well for any nation or pundit hoping to argue that Trump doesn’t know how to make a difference in the region.

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Encore of Revival: America, June 11, 2018

Reciprocal trade is the trend of everyone. Canada charges 270% tariffs on US dairy in the midst of the NAFTA “free trade” agreement, Trump threatens to charge other tariffs if trade isn’t even, and Trudeau objects to reciprocal tariffs and threatens them at the same summit. If the results were allowed to speak for themselves, it would be hard to know if anyone wants free trade or reciprocal tariffs or if people just want to argue. But, the results aren’t in yet. Until they are, we don’t know.

Trump left a G7 summit, wishing it were a G8 summit to include Russia, making it a G6 summit while he left for his own G2 summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-Un. Trump solidified the certainty of that summit by canceling it. Reciprocal trade will almost surely be on the shelf. The Western press can’t not speculate, especially with the old wives tale that investment is the primary source of economic stimulation—generally overlooking hard work, balancing free markets with regulation, and ingenuity.

The reason Russia is not at the G 7/8 summit is because it took back Crimea via referendum. Khrushchev gave Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954, which was a controversy all to its own. The Obama administration’s response was to alienate Russia. Russia’s main faux pas in the recovery of Crimea was flying its Russian flag over a government building taken by Russian soldiers prior to the referendum, but that received little attention. The West’s opinion at the time was largely limited to who should own what territory in Ukraine and Russia.

Amazon is listening and respecting the religious needs of its Muslim workers in the Twin Cities. Fasting is hot work and the Muslim immigrants need a cooler, slower-paced work environment during Ramadan. No word in the news, however, on reciprocal trade working conditions, such as whether Amazon has negotiated for disposable barbecue celebrations for Taoists on Chinese holidays or fish Friday for Catholics who have so generously immigrated to Muslim countries.

Talk show news punetdom is losing, in life, a lion of the mind, Charles Krauthammer. When the other talking heads from the Potomac beltway and NPR niggled over opinions of the press and heads of state, Krauthammer explained the three step process of delivering a nuclear weapon and where Kim Jong-Il had made progress within those steps. He resented terms like “Washington establishment” and also objected to Trump for fighting against an establishment he deemed mythical. He represented a sobering voice of reason and calm, disagreed with almost everyone about something, politely held to his own opinions, and remained courteous in discussion. He shared a letter within the past few days that cancer is ending his life and he has only weeks to live. The world of ideas and politics already misses him.

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Encore of Revival: America, May 14, 2018

Trump rescinding the so-called “Iran deal” will improve his position with other nations, North Korea only being one of them. Actually, it wasn’t a “deal” because Iran never signed anything.

Any “reputation” lost would be on Iran’s side for entering into a “deal” that even they didn’t commit to. Now the non-committal “deal” is off. Iran shouldn’t have expected anything. Now, at the bargaining table, Trump will be in a better position because nations know that he will actually follow through and only make deals that are real and binding.

This goes back to Obama’s great failure of his own base: He didn’t make laws that would last, he only made policies that depend on him being president in order to last, in this he exploited his voters by giving them high hopes and letting them get angry—the whole time Obama never told his own supporters the truth that everything he accomplished after Obamacare was designed to be blown away with the wind.

Iranians weren’t the only party with “gullible” written their foreheads; Obama voters were too, and Obama conned all of them.

The disturbing thing about the Iran “deal” is the reaction. Russia is very protective of that “deal”. That should be enough to call the “deal” off—and to prove that there was no substance in the Russianewsgategate “collusion” myth. But, where are all the stories in the press about how the “deal” was bad for the US? Having given $1.7B in cash to Iran should at least receive mention from a supposed “non-biased” media.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 16, 2018

The war with China is becoming the war with Russia and China, it’s economic, it’s culminating, and Britain is double-involved.

Since the strike on Syria, Russia is angry and thumping the drums. They promised retaliation before. After, they really promised really retaliation next time. It almost seems that Trump is testing Russian and Chinese leadership—and North Korea and Republican and Democrat—and has called their bluff. That’s coming at the US via Europe. But, Germany is also taking rhetorical shots at China, bringing Europe back into the Pacific conflict.

Britain is in contemplating trade talks with Taiwan. The UK is already involved in the Pacific conflict with Hong Kong’s exit status—that China will have no involvement in Hong Kong matters for fifty years as a condition of Hong Kong not being British. With Britain “friending” up to Taiwan, we see more involvement from the Crown.

But, the main fuel in the Pacific conflict is economics. US sanctions are successfully driving Kim to the table; China is eager to work with Japan before a Kim-Trump talk disarms the North. So, the US sanctions are also driving China and Japan to do at least something.

Then, there’s China’s own economics. Germany is angry about Chinese investments in Europe. More news stories this week talk of Chinese using money as a hostile takeover tool in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China’s ability to stand against a US trade war goes back to US Treasury bonds and the direct devaluing of China’s own currency. While different “experts” have differing opinions, money is the talk—everywhere.

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Encore of Revival: America, March 19, 2018

General Michael Flynn has earned a purple heart. The corruption against him indicated by text messages is scandalous. The public will rally to his defense more and more.

Trump allows Mueller to continue, indicating strength not weakness. Trump is letting Mueller proverbially “hang himself”, or to be “Biblical”, build his own Haman scaffold. Lashing out at Mueller on Twitter comes from Trump’s “social nose” telling him to wait for public support so that when—not if—Trump fies Mueller, the public demands more investigations of the draining swamp, which still will not satisfy the public outcry against corruption.

By not yet taking so much action as demanded, Trump opponents will see him as moderate and his support could even increase in the 2020 election—already likely to increase since the normal mid-term losses long predicted by Symphony will only rouse Trumpists to get out the vote even more.

The Facebook scandal involving the said-to-be-dubious research group Cambridge Analytica neither indites Democrats nor Republicans since the group is likened to “mercenaries” who will work for anyone’s pay. It does raise questions about Facebook’s inside baseball, though at most Facebook’s involvement seems to have been not caring enough or not having policies prepared to handle what Cambridge Analytica was doing, but we’ll have to wait and see. Nonetheless, Facebook will end up being more regulated by Congress, something quite easily done through FTC regulations—Facebook is a company with publicly traded stock. We could see legislation imposing a kind of “fairness and privacy doctrine” on public social media companies. Facebook is becoming a de facto utility, a status clearly proven by how important it was to Cambridge Analytica.

The STOP, School Violence Act of 2018 sponsored by Orrin Hatch has due bipartisan support. It also contains provisions for training, something suggested by Symphony just after the Florida Valentine’s Day Massacre. Democrats naturally want more, but are supportive.

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