Getting Back to the Open Thread

I was working on a good, fantastic, fabulous open thread for Monday Morning – but as I’m on vacation, that didn’t work out…so, here it is, later in the day, and I have some more things I’ve been thinking about.

…The duelists had from their own point of view escaped or conquered the chief powers of the modern world. They had satisfied the magistrate, they had tied the tradesman neck and heels, and they had left the police behind. As far as their own feelings went they had melted into a monstrous sea; they were but the fare and driver of one of the million hansoms that fill London streets. But they had forgotten something; they had forgotten journalism. They had forgotten that there exists in the modern world, perhaps for the first time in history, a class of people whose interest is not that things should happen well or happen badly, should happen successfully or happen unsuccessfully, should happen to the advantage of this party or the advantage of that part, but whose interest simply is that things should happen.

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority… G. K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross, Chapter IV.

Trigger Warning: the book was written more than 100 years ago and uses words and phrases which Precious Snowflakes Who Got Awards for Participation may find offensive. But, it is a good read for everyone else. And it pretty much in those two paragraphs demonstrates why paying attention to what the MSM wants you to see is not really wise.

The Chinese stock market crashed 8.5%! That is amazing for one trading day. It would be as if the U.S. stock market shed around 1,500 points in a day. I guess that even with injections of more funny money and the prospect of getting arrested if you sell hasn’t convinced China’s stock market to start going up.

Should Jonathan Pollard be released? Pollard has been in jail for decades. The article notes that Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t want him released – and a lot of people are on Rumsfeld’s side on this. To me, mercy triumphs over justice. Maybe it is time for Pollard to be released? Pollard becomes eligible for parole in November.

The Senate GOP leadership is, well, rather foolish. We know that they are in bed with big corporations and we know that they are largely Establishment drones who just want to go along to get alone (and, of course, so is the Senate Democrat leadership) – so, we know that they want to reauthorize that bit of corporate welfare known as the Export-Import Bank and they want their pork-laden highway bill. We in the base dig all that – and there’s no chance we’d ever actually like the GOP passing such things. But if they were to de-fund Planned Parenthood and take a big swipe at Obama’s Iran deal, we’d better deal with Ex-Im and the Iran deal actually happening. But, nothing doing – the GOP leadership by legislative hard-ball blocked conservative efforts to do both things…and then rammed through re-authorization of Ex-Im on the highway bill. Turns out, though, that the House GOP leadership (which is much more threatened by that tiresome, will-of-the-people thing), isn’t going to play along. Hey, Mitch – here’s a bit of advice: you have to play ball for things to get done. Just throw us a conservative bone once in a while…geesh!

Assad is hunkering down in his section of Syria and essentially writing off the parts controlled by the rebels. The reason for this? Fundamentally, because Syria isn’t a nation. Iraq isn’t a nation, either. Joe Biden caught a lot of flack when he suggested a post-war partition of Iraq, but it was about the only sensible thing he’s ever said. Syria and Iraq were drawn willy-nilly by Anglo-French imperialists in the post-WWI settlement. They are collections of different peoples with, often, very different ideas of what constitutes the good life. They were only held together – and held down – by imperial and dictatorial powers. Partition may be the only viable solution.

Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) is locked in a battle with the State’s government unions – who, of course, control the State Democrat party. This is a re-do of the battle in Wisconsin, but Rauner lacks a legislative majority as Walker had. The fundamental situation is the same – a bankrupt State government faces out of control spending forced through by government unions and their willing minions in elective office. It is either reform, or collapse – but the unions don’t care and insist the only way to go is more taxes and more spending. But Rauner isn’t backing down – and I’m certain that the Democrats/Unions will pull out all the stops. They have to. It was bad enough they were crushed in Wisconsin where the whole government was in Republican hands – but if they get crushed in Illinois where the Democrats control the Legislature, then it is game over for the government unions, and thus the whole idea of Big Government at the State level. Keep and eye on this one – and if Rauner pulls it off, pencil him in for 2024 (if the GOP wins next year) or 2020 (if it loses).

Out and About on a Friday – and Saturday and Sunday…

You know, just to keep things going.

Ok, so criminal justice reform is getting more front-burner. A genuinely bi-partisan group of people is looking for ways to reform our broken system. What I’d like:

End jail time for small time possession of illegal drugs. Anything less than a few ounces, maybe write the guy a ticket. No more jail time for failure to pay fines. End civil asset forfeiture. No more three strikes laws. Civil penalties for prosecutors who convict the innocent, or do fishing expeditions like the “Jon Doe” investigation in Wisconsin.

That would be a good start.

China seems to be dumping US Treasuries.

Women and minorities are obtaining concealed carry permits – a lot of concealed carry permits. Liberals won’t know what to do about this. As for us – it just means that, in the long run, a lot of women and minorities will eventually be voting conservative.

The guy who killed our Marines here at home spent a lot of time over in the Middle East. Someone please tell me why we allow easy travel between the Middle East and the United States.

Obama’s approval rating is 44.7%. Just keep in mind that it is very hard for a party to out-do it’s President’s approval rating on election day. To depress you, maybe what happens is Trump goes Perot next year and the final result is Hillary, 45%, Walker 42%, Trump 13%.

I actually spent some time reading the Iran deal. It is just terrible, as you suspected. Of course, people can read it different ways…I read it like an Iranian mullah who wants to do whatever he pleases. In that reading Iran…gets to do whatever it pleases. Seriously. 24 day waiting period for inspections. We not only have to lift sanctions, but help Iran gain market share and stamp on any State or local government which doesn’t want to do business with Iran. We have to give them scientific help of the best sort. And we have to obey the “spirit” of the deal – which is undefined. And if there’s a dispute about the implementation of the deal then we have 35 days to see it Iran’s way and if we don’t, then the deal binds us to see it Iran’s way. This isn’t diplomacy – this is Obama helping Iran to become the dominant power of the Middle East and pretending that he’s just making a nuke deal.

We are becoming a nation of cowards.

Hillary ain’t too popular.

From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there’s nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends. – Hilaire Belloc

Remain Calm: All is Well!

Just had to put this up from Zero Hedge:

China Bans Use Of Terms “Equity Disaster” And “Rescue The Market”

…And so, with every attempt to manipulate the (Chinese) market higher falling flat in the face of selling pressure from the hairdresser/ farmer/ banana vendor day trading crowd (which has now thrown in the towel on the whole “it’s easier than farm work” theory and now just wants to break even and head for the hills) the only thing left for China to do is “fix” the narrative.

In other words, when banning selling doesn’t work, the logical next step is to ban talking about selling

…So apparently, Beijing will now prevent journalists from accidentally jawboning the market lower so that Party mouthpiece media outlets are free to jawbone the market higher.

Needless to say, we doubt if this hail Mary attempt to rescue the market will do anything at all to save China from its homemade equity disaster.

Indeed. I haven’t paid too much attention to the market slide in China because I just figured the Chinese government would order stocks to go higher – telling the money bags in China that they’d better buy or else, ya dig? But if China’s market has got a huge number of small traders who are now getting burned…well, you can shoot a dozen bankers who don’t cooperate: its a much more difficult prospect to shoot 100,000 small investors who are bailing out.

There is one thing I do know about markets – when average folks start borrowing money to invest in it because it will always go higher, then it is crash time.  We’ll see how this plays out – but China has already lost $3 trillion in stock value since June…ain’t looking too pretty.

Regarding Asia’s Mini Me.

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The linked article below from Stratfor.com gives an interesting perspective as to the history of the relationship between Beijing and North Korea-One possibility missing in this article is that of North Korea being a puppet and proxy government under Beijing’s control, via which Beijing can assert plausible deniability for actions it takes via its North Korean sock puppet.In an effort to ‘diffuse’ tensions, John Kerry sojourned to Beijing the other day, and offered, in exchange for China’s willingness to call off its ‘attack dog,’ concessions on U.S. missile defense in Asia.Could it be that Beijing is rattling North Korea’s saber, just to see how the West reacts and/or cowers? We arguably have the least cogent, most feckless foreign policy since the dawn of Jimmy Carter. It would appear plausible that China is exploiting the Obama Administration’s/Washington’s newfound affinity for “global test” pacifism and Chamberlain-esque knee-jerk appeasement, and will try to obtain more and more concessions while the gettin’s good.My guess is that China will continue to play the West via North Korea like a fiddle, as long as the current feckless leadership remains in Washington, and that Beijing will seize every opportunity to effect the West’s strategic weakening and further a lack of resolve.

Read further here:

War With China?

It has been bubbling around out there, but if you haven’t been paying close attention, you might have missed the issue:

THIS is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don’t be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu islands. And don’t assume the war would be contained and short.

Of course we should all hope that common sense prevails.

It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world’s three richest countries – two of them nuclear-armed – would go to war over something so trivial. But that is to confuse what starts a war with what causes it. The Greek historian Thucydides first explained the difference almost 2500 years ago. He wrote that the catastrophic Peloponnesian War started from a spat between Athens and one of Sparta’s allies over a relatively insignificant dispute. But what caused the war was something much graver: the growing wealth and power of Athens, and the fear this caused in Sparta…

China is feeling its oats and, also, with grave economic, political and demographic problems, striking out in a foreign adventure might appeal to a Chinese ruling class which has no legitimate basis for its continued rule but which has so far proven unwilling to set in motion steps to create a legitimate government in China.  Japan, on the other hand, is rich and happy and not wanting to fight, but also fears that if they let China get her way on this then China will forever push Japan around.  The United States, on the other other hand, cannot afford to let China push Japan around because that would undercut our entire position not just in Asia, but the entire western Pacific…no one would rely on us if we left Japan in the lurch and everyone would scramble to make the best deal with could with China.  Certainly, there are the ingredients for war.

But there won’t be one.  At least, not right now.

China is in much the same position as imperial Germany was early in the 20th century – feeling stronger and frustrated that their growing strength has not led to their dominance of the globe.  Back then, Germany felt that Britain – governing one quarter of the earth’s surface but viewed by Germans as increasingly flabby – was the block in the road.  And, so, Germany wanted to challenge Britain – but couldn’t because the German army couldn’t get at Britain while the German navy wasn’t sufficient to beat the British navy (then, by far, the largest navy in the world).  China might want to make some nationalist hay over the Senkakus but when push comes to shove, they are islands and the Chinese navy is simply entirely inferior to the United States navy (and probably couldn’t even beat the Japanese navy, either).  A Sino-American war right now would only have one very swift result – the destruction of China’s navy and a return to the status quo ante (there is zero chance that any American government would sanction sending an American army to mainland China).  Unless the rulers of China are the most monumentally stupid people in the world, they know this and so as long as the US and Japan remain firm (but polite and willing to provide a face-saving solution) then the Chinese will ultimately back down.

This time.

China is, of course, aware of her naval weakness – and so has built one aircraft carrier and looks to build more, while also steadily upgrading their other surface and submarine forces.  As absolutely no one threatens China’s sea communications the only possible use China can have for a first class navy is to challenge the United States.  And as a matter of fact, all of China’s military build up indicates only one thing: at some future point, the government of China envisions war with the United States.  Not a war to the death like the World Wars, but a war to kick America out of east Asia and the western Pacific (China has asserted that their sphere of influence includes the Marianas Islands – a commonwealth of the United States, but also including the US territory of Guam).  We’ll have to see how that comes out and US diplomacy should be geared towards solidifying our alliances in the area while military preparations should work on destroying the Chinese navy and blockading the Chinese coast.  But, meanwhile, not much to worry about.  For the moment.

China’s Thug Government Armed Gaddafi

From Strategy Page:

…During the recent fighting in Libya, the rebels complained of encountering government troops armed with new Chinese weapons. Accusations were made that China was selling weapons to the (Gaddafi) dictatorship despite a UN embargo. A little investigating found that this was indeed the case, and that Chinese arms merchants had approached the Libyan government earlier in the year, offering to sneak the weapons in via Algeria and South Africa. The last shipments appear to have arrived in July…

Why?  Because the Chinese government is a corrupt, inhuman dictatorship which simply does not care about human suffering.  If there was a dollar to be made and some influence to be bought, China is right there…acting the rogue while we pretend they are a rational member of the community of nations.

Until the Chinese government is destroyed, this sort of thing will just get worse and worse.  Remember that – and we must start demanding that our leaders treat China as the standing threat it is.

Dealing With China

James Traub over at Foreign Policy has an interesting article about how the United States should deal with China.  While acknowledging that China is rapidly becoming powerful, Traub downplays any aggressive intent on China’s part, while also discounting any muscular, American response to China.  The only really good thing I can say about the article is that it at least is an acknowledgment that China has to be dealt with in some fashion…for too long we’ve been blinded by an idea that all China wishes to do is make money, or that they were in some manner a strategic partner of the United States.  But I do believe that Traub is not quite understanding what the Chinese government will do.

Tyrants cannot hold still – they must continually advance, or they will fall.  In Churchill’s trenchant phrase, they ride to and fro on the backs of tigers, and the tigers are getting hungry.  The tyrants of China made a de-facto deal with the Chinese people post-1989:  let us be in power, and we’ll let you get rich.  This has, in fact, worked out to only a select few getting rich, mostly by ripping off the broad mass of the Chinese people…but the growing prosperity has kept dissent down in the cities while the army and security forces have proven capable of keeping dissent down in the countryside (though there are plenty of tales of riot and rebellion in the backwaters of China).  The problem for China is that they have advanced about as far as they can under their current system.  They can advance further – but only by bringing rural China in to the economic mainstream, and by freeing up the political system so that corrupt (which eats like a cancer at the Chinese economy) can be fought.  Neither course of action appeals to China’s Ruling Class.

But they can’t stand still – they can’t do what is necessary to make the next step forward economically, but they also can’t just let things stagnate…what is already bound to be a Chinese recession will become a very hard landing unless China changes internally…or finds some external means of deflecting attention.  The recently aggressive behavior of China in foreign affairs is not a reflection of China’s actual might – they don’t have that sort of power as of yet.  Won’t have it, really, for 20-30 years, if ever (China’s coming demographic decline may rob China of the sinews of power just when the infrastructure if finally there).  They are blustering…hoping to grab what they can, and preparing for a foreign confrontation which will (in the Ruling Class’ view, at least) cement the loyalty of the Chinese people and serve as the excuse for the coming bad economic times.

The bottom line for us is to get prepared for this – by forging a rock-solid alliance with India, making a defense arrangement with Vietnam, and re-founding our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.  It is a certainty that China will try something – what it will be remains to be seen.  I suspect a move against Taiwan in conjunction with a Chinese-inspired, North Korean attack on South Korea and/or Japan (ie, draw off American power to northeast Asia while China moves in the South China Sea…we can’t be everywhere at once, and Taiwan for most Americans would be a doubtful proposition for a full scale war…it shouldn’t be, but it would be).  But as we can’t know for certain, better to be prepared for all eventualities…and if this takes some increases in naval and aerial strength, then we’re going to have to bite the bullet and do it (as an aside, the really good thing about alliances and agreements with India and Vietnam is they provide ample land power without the United States having to deploy millions of troops).

The most important first step is to recognize that China is an enemy State…that we must not have close economic and military relationships with the Chinese.  That we must inform them that any attempt to change the status quo in Asia and the Pacific will be met with a forceful American response.