Encore of Revival: America, December 10, 2018

The theory presented on September 10 and November 19 proved useful enough to predict White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure. No one announces in advance that someone is leaving—before the departure, without also announcing a replacement. Nobody cares about a boss whose boss already announced would be leaving. That’s how to cripple any malevolent powers of an administrator that can’t be quickly unplugged, but needs to go—and do so without raising suspicion that the administrator did anything wrong. Even in his dismissal—not a “retirement”—Kelly fits the bill as the author of the “New York Times essay”, right down to getting tossed out in a way that no one would suspect a darned thing.

France is in trouble. The president who snubbed Trump has fallen into disfavor with his own people. This largely comes down to grandiose promises made by socialist agendas that everyone should have known could not deliver because of foresight rooted in hindsight. Socialism never delivers anything but what we see in France now. As for ado about Brexit, there’s no point in worrying so much since the queen can decide anyway, if she wants to. That’s what the British always tell Americans is so wonderful about the UK’s constitutional monarchy. But, acting like this is a problem helps keep the British press afloat.

A Trump campaign payment is now being compared to a situation with 2004 Democratic candidate John Edwards. But, that has three major holes in its boat: 1. The accusation encircles alleged campaign finance violations surrounding the Trump organization’s lawyer, Cohen, whose job it was to give legal advice; Trump is not a lawyer, Edwards was. Can a lawyer be witness against the client he advised, or secretly recorded? 2. The Mueller investigation sought to understand whether there was wrongful involvement with Russia and Trump. The Fourth Amendment limits the scope of search and seizure to a probable cause and any seized items must be specified by the warrant in advance. By starting with an investigation between Trump and Russia, but ending with a campaign finance accusation against a candidate accused by the lawyer who advised him, this has gone well beyond the scope that the Fourth Amendment was intended to limit. If courts allow this, it shows how much our legal justice system has wandered from the Constitution. 3. The electorate will want a good explanation for why Hillary wasn’t treated this way. The best reason so far would be that the courts have been usurped as a cudgel for political rivals. It’s not Trump who needs to be worried about an indictment; it’s the legal justice system itself that is about to go on trial.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 29, 2018

The Pacific Ocean has become a chess board of moving pawns, castling kings, bluffs, and propaganda. China offers the moon to small countries, the US warns that no “free” gift comes without strings attached. When Trump pulled out of the INF treaty for supposed Russian violations, Russia went on high alert at home and called it “preparing for war”. Russia being ready for war means China feeling more confident about busting a move.

Given regional instability, Japan and India are talking big. They want cooperative military exercises. They will also need passage through that section of the ocean—the South Sea—that China drew a nine-dash line around. America won’t be the only challenger to China’s new notion of “ocean ownership”. As China gets more and more assertive, even the British are on edge. Nothing happens in the Western Pacific unnoticed.

Is China strong enough to win a military conflict? A Chinese rocket failed at launch. In the news, it’s reported as a “private company”, but there is no such thing in China, by Western understanding of a “private company” anyhow. The reason it failed is probably rooted in the sister controversy to trade: reverse engineering and technology copying. China couldn’t launch the rocket, in all likelihood, because too much of the technology used by China wasn’t invented by China, but invented by someone else, made in China, and copied by China—but not understood by China. Such is the tech of this “private company” and the tech that made China so big as it is today and the tech it would use in battle. Russia would be wise to not depend on that tech. And, small countries would be wise to remember that the “great China” was made great by a tilted-trade, copied-tech cash cow that is no longer making milk.

China’s National Tourism Administration suspended group tours to one of China’s many coveted destinations in Taiwan. The delay is scheduled to last from early November into April. November is an election month for both the US and Taiwan. It’s a big month for expos in Taiwan, especially a flora expo in the city where tours were suspended, Taichung. November is also when a large group from the US Navy will make a show of force near China’s man-made islands.

Read More

Encore of Revival: America, October 22, 2018

Saudi leadership is deeply entrenched in an attempt to make the world a better place. Just as Trump has his enemies, so do the Saudis. The Saudi Crowned Prince did not visit Turkey and personally dismember and murder a news reporter, no matter how many anti- fake news activists might have liked him to. There are many alibis in defense of the Saudi royal family, among them that they have many enemies who want violence to continue, who are even willing to engage in violence and blame it on the royal family to stir dissent against the royal family that wants to end violence.

Trump pulled out of the INF treaty, prohibiting medium-range ground-based nukes. Gorbachev doesn’t want Trump to pull out, but he hasn’t seemed so outspoken about Putin violating the treaty. Trump’s defense will be that the treaty has already ended, the US is merely jumping ship from the boat Russia has poked holes in for a long time. Putin’s argument is that missile defense in Europe violates attack missile treaties, though that argument needs further explaining before the American public will agree. By having argued that NATO defense violated treaties restricting attack protocols, Putin is more or less acknowledging that he already has a good excuse to violate the INF treaty, but Trump does not. Either way, Russia has nothing to complain about at this point because both parties seem to think the treaty no longer applies.

When your enemy argues that violating a treaty is fair, it’s stupid not to pull out of that treaty. Signed documents don’t cause missiles to freeze in mid air. Tension between the US rises and lowers based on how much the superpowers want to get along—and signed documents trail after the ebb and flow of the greater tide.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More