Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 16, 2019

China is desperately grasping for straws. While German parliament is planning to ban Huawei against the will of their head of state, Chancellor Merkel, a Chinese ambassador sends a message that “there will be consequences”—when diplomatic channels go to the head of state, not parliament. The Chinese ambassador is like a dog barking up a tree; German parliament doesn’t care what the Chinese ambassador says. But, in China different branches of government don’t matter because that’s just a “silly Western thing”. So, the Chinese don’t know how German government works because the Chinese presume that Germans lie as much as the Chinese do.

Moreover, the Chinese Communists have overlooked one blaring flaw—if Huawei isn’t controlled by China’s government, that would make it the only entity in China not subject to passive-aggressive threats under pain of organ harvesting. Moreover, if Huawei were the independent company China’s government claims it is, China’s government wouldn’t be so defensive of Huawei being banned from Germany.

China has many weaknesses, self-contradicting diplomacy being the least. Its labor force is shrinking. Its economy is much more dependent on exports than America’s. Its tech sector is even more dependent on importing American-made components. Tit-for-tat tariffs don’t favor China in that regard. The Chinese don’t spend as much on their military as America does, regardless of the hype from State-run Chinese news outlets. And, it doesn’t own a very big piece of the pie when it comes to US Treasury bonds—the greatest liquidation threat China could make there is to offer a temporary discount price to willing investors. The cost would be China forfeiting any leverage it had by owning such a small part of America’s debt, while America’s economy might skip two beats at most, then nevermore.

Then, we have the anti-Trump camp. Many economists who haven’t a clue where wealth comes from despise America’s president. Everything needs to pay for itself, otherwise it will die in a suicide cult of bankruptcy. Maybe NATO shouldn’t be in Germany, maybe it should, but the answer—one way or the other—will only surface if NATO requires Germany to pay for its own national defense. Bowing down to China may have made a few American companies rich—regardless of making a few million Americans poor—but it was never going to last long. Even though China took American money and started bullying their neighbors, those who profited from those greedy companies in particular are angry. But, most Americans aren’t fooled anymore.

Trump played his cards well, and he’s still got plenty of chips left to ante up for many rounds to come. That isn’t good news if you’re a member of the Chinese Communist Party, hoping to help the party dominate America.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 16, 2019

Revelations about the Russianewsgategate scandal are beyond damning. Why would Comey and friends consciously fabricate a lie, just to scare the president for not meeting with the Intelligence community every day? Generally, the public thinks that they think that their attempted assault against the president would succeed, so they would never have to answer for what they did. Like a failed revolt against Caesar, now they must pay. They didn’t think they would get caught, they outreached, then they got caught. That’s what the public is generally led to believe.

However, given the levels of flagrant sloppiness, it is difficult to say that getting caught resulted from a mere miscalculation. More likely, they simply didn’t think that far ahead because, if they had, they would have prepared contingencies. They had no contingencies and they left a highway of breadcrumbs.

What explains this?—Psychopath?—Ruling class corruption?—Drowning in their own swamp? A simple miscalculation or a belief that they would get away with it doesn’t suffice. Somewhere, the Washington elite have gone off the deep end.

The impeachment campaign against Trump is a self-imploding, self-destructing, backfiring bombshell. The Democrats harm themselves with their impeachment proceedings so fast that news can’t even keep up with the damage. Their resolve to bring their own demise goes beyond conspiracy—it’s self-absorbed madness. No matter how much they can see how much they make themselves lose, they only turn up the temperature and lose more.

The moral of the story is that we should expect even more blunders as the swamp drains and the monsters who thrived there writhe in their last hours of miserable existence. Of course, that could last a few decades before it’s all done with.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 9, 2019

Money doesn’t lie; it’s in the airline figures. Cathay is reducing its capacity, largely from loss of demand for flights in and out of China. Hong Kong Airlines is dropping long hauls to and from Australia, the US, and Canada. Clearly, both Chinese nationals and Pacific English speakers have lost confidence in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was special—for tourism, culture, lifestyle, trade, finance, and a slough of other things—all because both Chinese and the English-speaking West had easy and overlapping access. They could meet, they could do business, they could speak their own language, and they could enjoy Chinese culture without the oppression of a Confucian-Communist government. But, neither wants to play ball anymore.

In response to the US ending exports of riot-control weapons and defining autonomy as “being autonomous”, China banned the US Navy from making port stops in Hong Kong. The port stops had been an encouragement to international business, reassuring investors that everything was alright between the US and China. But, apparently China doesn’t want that illusion of reassurance to continue. And, more importantly, China obviously is less fearful of the US Navy making its R&R port calls in Taiwan instead.

Watch for many things to shift to Taiwan. While the first finance leaders in Hong Kong are exiting to Singapore, watch for a swath to relocate in Taipei once Singapore’s galore wears off and finance centers discover the difference in real estate prices and cost of living.

China will still be angry enough to blow a few gaskets when the US Navy does make more port calls in Taiwan, it’s just that they are less fearful of it for the time being. China’s leaders have been had, largely due to their thirst for respect, which blinds their judgement. But, they are incapable of learning, so they are only going to be had more and more.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 9, 2019

This week, we caught a closer glimpse of what the impeachment hearings in the House are truly about: election 2020. Democrats can’t win and they know it. This impeachment is their best chance to lose less of the vote, but it may backfire.

The reason opposition news against Trump doesn’t sway his base is because of what it reveals about actual, normal life. Usually, the president and Congress are portrayed as operating “above” everyone else, never having any problems, or at least that they only have problems that us normal people never have. But, every accusation and difference of opinion reported about Trump reveals that every president—not just he—deals with the same, constant, nonsensical heckling from people at the office that all the rest of us deal with.

Some friends always act like they have a better idea when they actually haven’t a clue. Doing the only thing that can save a company or school always makes people mad—especially if those are the very people who drove problems to the brink of crisis. As movers and shakers shake and move to save the world from idiots who shouldn’t have been put in charge, those idiots refuse to give us a moment’s peace, even when they are close friends and family.

So, you see, Trump deals with the same kind of nonsense that every competent person deals with. We just didn’t know until his adversaries told us so—as if we hadn’t already seen it before.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 2, 2019

Opinions on Asia aren’t just flying, but swarming the Pacific. Hong Kongers vote against China in an unmistakable slap to Beijing’s face, then Beijing blames the US—because Beijing still thinks that voters only vote how the government tells them to. And, everything is all America’s fault anyway, right?

It took a day of silence for Beijing’s media machine to figure out how to spin the election. Beijing accused Hong Kong’s dissent on violence. But, that doesn’t hold since last week’s election went uninterrupted. Yet, Beijing sticks to the same script.

A commentator predicts that Hong Kongers don’t want independence—even though they already declared independence on October 4. Perhaps Doris Lam’s article on Channel News Asia was an attempt to tell Hong Kongers what they should want. Or, it could have been an attempt to tell Beijing to think that Hong Kongers don’t want what they want. Either way, it is a delusional olive branch in the form of a typical long-worded think piece. There is a growing trend of commentators who make their articles longer when they know that few readers will accept their opinions.

After Trump signs two laws about Hong Kong—one to define an autonomous region as autonomous, the other to stop exporting police tools for riot-control—Beijing calls it “interference”. Then, Trump drops tariffs on China because good ole Benjamin is hard to argue with. Yet, Beijing wants more. Now, as in Chinese business negotiation, China wants to change the deal after everything has been agreed to. They want even lower tariffs in Phase One.

Great Britain wants UN access to Xinjiang.  China wants the world to believe Xinjiang is happy, an Islamic utopia; new documents prove otherwise. China also faces a food shortage, but a good marketing effort is underway for investment in Chinese farming. Stopping any possible abuse of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is interference in Beijing’s opinion, but accepting foreign money to build better farms isn’t. Perhaps Beijing will call it interference if the rest of the world does not invest in Chinese farms.

Taiwan’s election is fast approaching. Though Tsai Ing-Wen, the pro-democracy incumbent president, leads in the polls, many Taiwanese are scared that there are too many voters in the old, beaten-down generation for her to win a second time. Older Taiwanese, like many Chinese, have been so dominated by East Asia’s shame culture that they truly believe that “bigness” always wins and therefore they must vote for politicians who will surrender to China. Younger Taiwanese have seen this older generation get its way so many times, even polls can’t keep them from being scared. But, as John Maynard Keynes said, “Men will not always die quietly.” Few things drive voters to the polls like fear of dying at the hands of politicians who want to surrender. Tsai Ing-Wen is set to win by an even greater margin than she did in her first term—and everyone has something to say about it.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 2, 2019

“Order in the ranks” of military discipline includes that the president is the commander in chief who always gets his way—in the military. Generals and secretaries in the US Armed Forces have zero preference in any disagreement of decision with the president. As commander in chief, the president can overturn any court-martial conviction and fire or dismiss anyone for any reason. This is intended by the Constitution so that the Armed Forces serve the will of the people. The military does not give orders to the democratically elected president. Anyone in the Armed Forces attempting to circumvent a decision of the president should be discharged and possibly prosecuted for mutiny—based on Article 94 (§ 894)(a)(1) of the 2004 Uniform Code of Military Justice definition of Mutiny or Sedition. It is inappropriate for anyone to claim fowl play in the the Navy secretary’s firing.

Kevin Clinesmith from the FBI has been dubbed the title “frontline lawyer”. He reportedly doctored evidence in the FISA spy application as part of the Russianewsgategate scandal. If he was not acting under the explicit direction of his “behind the frontlines” superiors, then the Obama administration’s FBI, including James Comey, had even bigger problems. “Frontline lawyers” at the FBI are supposed to follow instructions of the director, otherwise the director is AWOL.

As impeachment moves forward, Democrats seal their fate. They’ve already gone too far. Whether the House votes to impeach, Democrats lose popularity. Either they let down their base or they anger everyone Right of staunch Democratic voters with unnecessary drama. Two unanswered questions remain: Will they choose to lose votes by impeaching or lose votes by not impeaching? And, more mysteriously, are they secretly trying to help President Trump or are have they been operating on kook-directed autopilot so long that they are no longer capable of knowing where they are headed?

The biggest danger Donald Trump always posed was that he would do too well and thus give Republicans a supermajority they couldn’t have earned on their own. No one seems to be helping that effort as much as House Democrats. Fortunately for the country, the ever-less-so silent majority doesn’t make political decisions on autopilot. And, that majority is growing larger.

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