Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 20, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQrpM6sveIQ

China is engaging in "rapid expansionism"; this is different from the slower-moving modes of Russia and, until Trump, the United States. During Obama, Russia took back Crimea—after that fling Nikita Khrushchev had in giving Crimea to Ukraine when it wasn't his to give. Russia has also been crawling its influence in Syria, softly with Iran, and shrewdly using China as an effective puppet.

America, though not an empire seeking to claim more within its political borders, propelled power through military bases around the world. Once the Chinese got over their phobia of technology—a disease it long had, which even led up to the Opium Wars—they looked beyond their bubble and saw America's non-border expansion. But, they still haven't seen Russia's soft-handed expansion for what it is. 180 military bases in China's backyard didn't bode well with China's neediness for receiving endless heinie kisses.

Thankfully, Trump is slowly recalling propelled American power—consider Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, and now Iraq. He is not the archetypal "neocon" expansionist. But, other than Trump, America did have its own soft form of expansionism.

China, different from either of the two soft expansions of America and Russia, is engaging in a more rapid, rude, speedy expansion. The Chinese don't care how they come across to others because they have been knocked off their emotional rockers, having seen that the world doesn't regard them to be a fraction of what they think themselves to be. This speed has alarmed the nations of the world like a body's immune system responding to a spreading virus or cancer. Even India is on alert.

Russia played its card well—or maybe we should say Russia played its China well: expansion backed by Russia, which upsets the global balance, and Russia doesn't get blamed for it. China doesn't know what its speedy expansion, mainly against Taiwan and India, will do because China hasn't been paying attention to the rest of the world for most of human history.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, January 20, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACP35fSqbrs

Current events are forcing everyone into a deep state of soul-searching. Some Iranians were angry after Trump's drone strike, mourning the death of a leader they somehow admired. They didn't blame Americans, except that they did. Once the Iranian government admitted to shooting down the passenger jet from Ukraine, Iranians en masse took to the streets, protesting the current government.

As Symphony explained last week, some leaders have yet to "grow up" more than others. Those with more growing up to go tend to invite resentment from those they lead. Iran was no exception. Authoritarianism led to the mistake with the passenger jet, but it also allowed certain leaders to rise in the first place, one whom was killed by a drone strike approved by President Trump.

In America, the doomed impeachment articles from the House were so evidently unpopular that their true purpose went on parade: a parade. Yes, it was only ever for show. So, when House Democrats were forced to give the Republican Senate what they did not want, they continued the show for their supporters' own entertainment.

But, the show isn't done yet. Irritation and aggravation will only rise higher and higher as the nation sees what's really going on. That could be said for both Iranians and Americans.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 13, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11f_GgbJiJ8

The overwhelming, earth-shattering, landslide re-election victory of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen sends a shocking message to Beijing: If you plan to take Taiwan, prepare for greater opposition than you got from Hong Kong. But, like the house cat who doesn't know it's not God, let alone that it's not any tiger, they won't ever decrypt the message. Beijing will be emotionally hurt, insulted, and will thus froth with rage.

Choosing former Premier William Lai as her Vice running mate was wise. Not only is he loved for—perhaps only for—his intractable stance against corruption, he also views Taiwan as having an already de facto independent status. While President Tsai prefers status quo—a peacefully unresolved dispute with China—Vice President Elect Lai views any Taiwanese declaration of independence from China as no more than a formality for how things already are anyway.

This choice of William Lai strengthens her position. If she were to step down, a president would take her place with an even stronger stance against Chinese expansionism. So, even her political opponents would want her to remain in office.

Taiwan's position is stronger, not only in US relations, but also within Taiwan. Expect actions from China that result in Taiwan responding with moves toward even greater independence than status quo already boasts.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, January 13, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1mYwT8NUFk

The Iranian government's alibi—or "explanation", rather—of how it shot down a passenger jet from Ukraine is entirely believable. Barring some grandiose conspiracy, there would be no imaginable motive for any government—friend or foe, even a terrorist sponsor like Iran—to use government assets to kill civilians.

The Iranian military's story is believable to any Westerner who has spend more than three years in a first-world or second-world country. Sadly, poorer parts of America have similar cultures, poorer White communities as well as minorities. Any autocratic, bossy, domineering culture can easily make severe miscalculations. They do it in Sunday morning congregations all the time.

According to CNN, according to Iran, their government was on high alert, then misidentified a plane from Ukraine as it turned toward a Revolutionary Guard base. In sum, that led to a snap judgment, what Iran calls "human error". The Iranian government wants to put systems in place to avoid such miscalculations in the future. In the West, we call that "growing up"—learning how to not make rush judgements.

While Iran's story is believable to any Western expat with experience in a developing country, most Americans don't know the degree to which immature people run many governments of the world. Part of being a first-world nation means that people in the government need to be mature.

Iran learning from its mistake could be the most significant turning point where Iran's government learns the "confident humility" needed to govern with maturity. If that happens, Sec. Mike Pompeo's goal of Iran behaving "like a normal country" will come true. Iran claimed that their military was on high alert in the first place because of tensions surrounding the strike in Iraq. In short, killing Qassem Soleimani helped Iran.

Now, the task is for Americans to understand other people enough to understand why being immature cost the lives of 176 people. Whether at home, the office, or in government, immaturity is the source of much injustice—a lesson which Americans will learn, eventually.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 6, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzXIlvmys-U

The West has been at odds with the Far East for centuries. It began before the Opium Wars, laws and treaties were made and broken, but the issues remain the same old same old. Chinese stare down their noses at the rest of the world, regardless of the imbalance it causes for their end of the teeter-totter we all stand on. They believe China getting richer and expanding its borders is fair for them, and whatever may or may not be unfair for the rest of the world doesn’t matter because justice is only a matter of importance in whether Chinese receive justice. Everyone else can either become Chinese or die—which would do their miserable existence a favor. That is the ancient worldview driving the Far East to do what it has always done—what it continues to do today.

But, one thing is different now: Not all Chinese speakers go along with Chinese supremacism. Previously, dissidents who had been crushed by Chinese supremacism were either Uncle Toms in their own rite or too scared to object, but not anymore. Hong Kong is standing up to old generation arrogance, so is Taiwan. People within Hong Kong and Taiwan are standing up to that arrogance even within their cultures, families, social circles, and societies at large. That old supremacism is collapsing at the hands of free-thinking, self-motivated, self-initiated Chinese-speakers themselves, Cantonese speakers of the same historic culture notwithstanding the least. The “Revolution of Our Times” is much deeper that Hong Kong political identity; it’s cultural, regional, and even global. Consider Chinatowns and Chinese churches across America—which won’t be any kind of exception.

Soon, Trump will have something to hang over everyone's head—Democrats and Chinese Communists alike. It's a power stronger than any missile. Next week, China is sending a delegation to sign the infamously famous "Phase 1". Woohoo!

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, January 6, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z5SZQpUoD8

Happy New Year! Free speech is threatened most when it is laid down freely. It is threatened more when public companies are allowed to threaten it. Prior to Hong Kong protests, the term “self-censorship” was tossed around like a fourth-grade sponge ball on a PhysEd parachute. Today, if Facebook doesn’t want someone’s name mentioned—even though the people not allowed to mention the name aren’t involved—then Facebook users won’t mention the name for fear of losing their connection to friends and family.

That is the usual blackmail, right?—friends and family?

Pacific Daily Times will not report the name of an ousted whistleblower unless it either becomes old news and is needed for discussion or there is litigation involving the whistleblower. But, that’s as far as things go. Should enough time pass or the whistleblower file private or civil action over being mentioned—or a disenfranchised social media user were to file private or civil action over being censored or banned—then the name becomes fair game for the Times. For the Times, it’s about being niche and newsworthy rather than alarmist and chasing the most recent fad. We want a name attached to a story that is unusual from what others will report.

But, Facebook, YouTube, and others in mainline media seem to have more in the game than just keeping things relevant and interesting. Banning users and removing content for naming a name already named seems to indicate that they are protecting the whistleblower because they support what the whistleblower did. That stacks up the best, anyway.

At the Times, others being banned for repeating the named name is far more interesting than the name itself. Banning or censoring users for mentioning an ousted whistleblower on publicly listed social media platforms is atrocious. We are headed for public utilitization of social media. The same could be argued for food, drug, and grocery giants, but that’s another editorial for another week.

This raises another question. What is a “whistleblower” anyway? Generally, the term is vernacular, referring to someone who sees foul play and “blows a whistle”. The problem is that whistleblowers wear special clothes to identify themselves, wave flags with bright colors, and make loud noises to draw the attention of an entire stadium. But, ever since Trump threatened an inbred political swamp in one of the most white-collar corrupt graft cities in the world, the term “whistleblower” seems to have been reassigned the definition “accuser in hiding who has a right to accuse without proof, then keep hiding”.

This “whistleblower” isn’t the actual whistleblower but a spectator in the stands. By the standard definition, the real whistleblowers were the Federal agents who acted upon the claims. Misapplying the term “whistleblower” to this anonymous, baseless coward of an accuser has only served to lionize the housecat.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 30, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=604GfnuPNGg

We are headed toward a massive inquisition of police. It could be known as the "Hong Kong Trials", where each police officer who served since June is combed over and evaluated for every step taken at every single protest, then tried under international law. It's not immediately around the corner, but the current powers governing Hong Kong are doing everything they can to make that day inevitable.

Over the holidays, neither protestors nor police took a break, except for a brief moment on Christmas at midnight, when protestors were the adults in the room to pause for a moment in honor of something greater. Many had Christmas dinner away from their families, largely due to East Asian culture's dogma toward older family members. Authoritarianism generally drives away people who are self-motivated and take initiative, family being a least exception. Older generations in Hong Kong don't understand that. Neither does Beijing. This Christmas, many middle aged and elderly parents faced the question posed by empty seats at many a dinner table: Do you love your children more than your desire for compliance? To some extent, families will be reconciled in due course; parents who refuse will lose even more.

Taiwan had its own drama over the holidays. An accused Chinese mole, formerly in Taiwan's military, is being hung out to dry for purportedly recruiting more moles. Former president Ma is accusing the Control Yuan of interfering by questioning the judge who let him off scot-free. That stands to reason since the Control Yuan was effectively shut down during his tenure, which, unbeknownst to most, gave even greater rise the Sunflower Movement of 2014. As if Taiwan hadn't its fill of holiday joy, US Congress is now working on a bill that will formalize the US envoy to Taiwan as a full ambassador—requiring presidential appointment and Senate approval. That is about as close to recognizing Taiwan as a country without recognizing Taiwan as a country as a country can get. China won't be happy, but the Taiwanese sure thought it was a very Merry Christmas!

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Encore of Revival: America, December 30, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jha-dJDcul8

The Trump trials are exposing what is broken about our political culture. Politicians don't know how to talk to people. They can schmooze and beat around the bush. They can use a thousand hours and a hundred thousand words to do nothing in a way that appears like hard work. But, they don't know how to talk to people so that something actually happens.

To a business man, the phrase "I need your help" is a polite way of making a request easier to turn down. In politics, asking for "help" is code for bribery. The two aren't at all related. When Trump told the Ukrainian president he wanted "help", he was being polite. But, the swamp in Washington mistook Trump for speaking their evil language of bribery. In psychosemantics, the term is "projection".

Trump's impeachment is purely along party lines. Statistics and figures agree. If you're a Democrat, you think his call to Ukraine was wrong. If you're a Republican, you think his call to Ukraine was somewhere between necessary and excusable. Any exceptions are marginal. This is pure party politics, which means that we can't debate the ethics of Trump's phone call among fellow Americans with any more success than we can debate guns, abortion, and redistribution of wealth. Now, impeaching the incumbent president for whatever lame reason we can contrive has been added as one more topic in a party-politics worldview.

Most rules that Democratic politicians object to are rules that the same Democrats created to use against Republicans just a few years prior. This new precedent won't be any exception. It might even come in handy one day, one way or another.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 23, 2019

China's in over its head. They got somewhat of a trade deal, though they never had much to bargain with because their economy is much more dependent on imports than the US economy. So, their trade deal can't have gone as well as they would have liked, so they were always going to be unhappy, no matter what they got. They won't be happy, even though they plan a signing photo op come January.

Beijing-rooted leaders in Hong Kong are genuinely confused about the public outcry. In all likelihood, the Chinese truly don't know how much they afflict and oppress their own people. Because they are out of touch with normal life—because they rely on inhumane means to silence any opposition—they probably believe dissidents are genuine misfits. Beijing remains oblivious to how cruel and rightly despised its rule is. Had Beijing even tried to know what real, ordinary people really, truly think, they might not have been surprised by Hong Kong's harsh rejection. But, Beijing never cared enough to try to ask in the first place. So, Beijing despises Hong Kong, all the while doing so under the delusion that its spite is well-deserved.

The British have politely demanded that Beijing honor the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and hold talks with Hong Kong protestors. From Beijing's perspective, this is as unimaginable as a Chinese demigod being willing to hold a dialog with a cockroach. Make no mistake, Beijing does not feel that Britain is making any kind of request; it is purely interpreted as an insult, like demanding one to kiss one's own rear end. However incapable Beijing is of understanding the polite demand, let alone obeying it, the demand remains legally binding. Britain is building a case for nullification and Beijing believes that every way out is an illusion meant to insult.

Then, there's Huawei. The trade agreement China holds no cards to oppose with won't matter. Huawei needs customers and Europe is skittish, to say the least. Huawei needs money because the Chinese government needs money. Central planning squandered loans on enormous, countless, empty buildings. The concept of "scalability" is foreign to the government that always gets what it wants, until it can't afford to anymore. Even then, the Chinese won't know why they can't afford to anymore because they can't understand "scalability". Huawei's losses will weaken China's position further when it comes time for round 2 of the US-China trade negotiations.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 23, 2019

Trump's popularity is soaring. The impeachment this week helped the popular president even more—well, if an "impeachment" that the House speaker chooses not to transfer to the Senate is an actual impeachment. In the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the House doesn't demonstrate much leverage by not, "sending us something we do not want." Not sending the Senate something the Senate does not want has made Trump even more "popularer".

Whether Democratic or Republican, everyone should think the House is an embarrassment to the country. Even Putin thinks the House is laughable. Smart Democratic voters won't want their politicians barking up trees, starting fights that help the other team. But, there is a danger—power corrupts and supermajority corrupts "superly". Democrats are handing the nation a supermajority Republican party by 2022, when the third round of Senate elections for Trump's tenure take place. That is when our freedom will be at more risk than it has ever been; when good people no longer have accountability they are no longer good.

Fortunately, while many Democratic voters don't value the Constitution that started the trend of ending slavery for the first time in human history, at least they know the power of gridlock. Democrats like checks and balances when they don't have power. That might be enough to save freedom.

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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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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 9, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U53cR3_vHv0

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULbCj1Hy-LQ

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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