Beyond the Cusp

October 22, 2016

I Have Seen This Campaign Before

 

I have seen this exact style and lack of truth in an election built entirely on one overriding misdirection repeated ad-nauseum. I reserve the right to keep you guessing and in the dark, just as the media coverage of the American Presidential Election has and will continue as they have chosen and scripted their coverage for one side, Hillary Clinton’s coronation. One might ask why there has been so little a cry from the Republican elite and leadership. The reason has much to do with their complete lack of pushback against Donald Trump’s initial success while their golden candidate, Jeb Bush, completely crashed and burned without any Republican emergency response team to douse the flames. They were assisting and even secretly arranging in quiet ways Donald Trump’s victory as this was necessitated for a Hillary Clinton victory in the general election. Any honest and readily supportable Republican candidate with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, unsurprisingly the sole Republican who had any hope of toppling the Trump nomination, would have beaten Hillary like a drum. That was the requirement the Republican Party power brokers delivered upon just as directed in the Hillary coronation directive handbook which everybody appears to be playing by except The Donald. Thankfully The Donald is extremely well adapted for the role of the unscripted wildcard.

 

There was an excerpt from the comedy show “Third Rock from the Sun” where John Lithgow’s character boils over (normal for his character) about the election and the anguish mixed with insanity he suffers over how to decide through all the lies and confusion (see video below) and Jane Curtain’s character quotes, rather loosely, Winston Churchill about the horror that is Democracy as a form of government. If you are a Lithgow fan, as am I, then you will love this. This is also unfortunately how all too many voters in America are likely feeling and this confusion does not stop at the shores, it extends to wherever people are involving this election into their lives. Unlike Lithgow, many will not be burdened with having to make that fateful choice; only Americans can be so cursed. Some have defined this election as between a crook and a megalomaniac. Well, it could always be worse; they could both be megalomaniacal crooks which some claim is also the case. Our solace is that even if we still resided in the United States, our state is the second most extreme such that there is no chance of countering the overwhelming majority which makes all predetermined. What makes this election so beyond most not overly familiar with American political theater and how most of the states are all but preordained to vote one party or the other with near 100% accuracy. What this produces is the election will rest on as few as five swing states to a maximum of a dozen potential swing states. As Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida alone could elect Hillary Clinton if she wins all three, the election may be all but decided early. If not then after Ohio, Illinois, and a remote Michigan swing will end all expectations as after that Colorado and New Mexico are unlikely to make the difference, but one can never be too sure. Imagine if it has been announced that Hillary will win and then, against all the odds, California goes for Trump. There would be a lot of news anchors with egg on their faces at that.

 

 

The nicest thing about the American election is that the tense and shrill back-and-forth screaming and accusations being exchanged blow for blow will all be decided within two and a half weeks. The less than nice thing is whoever wins will be the President of the United States for, at a minimum, four years. Whichever candidate prevails, the media will be filled with either criticisms or adulation every day from inauguration through their run for reelection. The one thing of which we can all be assured is that the next President of the United States will take office facing more than the usual set of challenges facing them immediately as they take office. The world has seen perilous times with ominous omens and exceedingly high threat indexes but rarely at the levels as all indicators press are rapidly approaching. The state of the world begs the question of why anybody would actually seek the Presidency at this time. The obvious answer would be either an inflated, larger than life ego or an overbearing feeling of being preordained and whose time has finally come though overdue. Looking at the two candidates we find that we have one of each, imagine that. Who could have imagined such an interesting election where only two personality types would seek the Presidency and then get both personalities? Usually one candidate appears so much more fitting the times and they rise to the office but here we have two. With both fitting one of two differing profiles, the voters will need to decide which candidate as well as which profile and then which is more necessary to face the coming difficulties and possible scenarios which will likely present themselves in the upcoming months and years.

 

This is not an election to envy the American voting public as if they were to choose poorly, the world will pay a horrific price, perhaps things which completely change the world as we know it today with massive change of the progressing of civilization and the laws by which we are governed. There are few points throughout history where the right person is in the right position when their world needs their type, style or quality of leadership. Even more unlikely has been the right person elected where they ward off a coming threat. Probably the most obvious example was British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as having the worst possible qualities for leadership facing the rise of Nazi Germany. Fortunately the British made a better choice once they realized that a war for survival was upon them choosing Winston Churchill. We can only hope that the world does not face a repeat of such as what led to World War II. The world would be far better off avoiding any war which would sink any sizeable parts of the world if at all possible.

 

Centers of World Conflicts

Centers of World Conflicts

 

There can be little doubt that the world is once again approaching another central pivoting point where a future for the foreseeable future will be determined. If one were to plot out a logical future, it would point to a failing of technology to prove decisive in a coming conflagration. The main and possibly only hope the advanced Western technological edge would have to preserve the underlying social structures of passivity, full equality, gender blending, sexual independence, complete tolerance and the abhorrence of the use of force is if their technology can circumvent the fierce religious observance and intractability following the strictest interpretations of their religious dogmas as possible, demanding the conquest and submission of all who are in any way different. Their strictness in observances leads to intrareligious inflexibility forcing rejection of those following even the slightest difference of interpretation or of historic views of the passing of leadership such as the detestations which existed in Christianity during the reformation. The world is shrinking in unprecedented ways and rapidity which is forcing the disparate religions, societies, governances, philosophies and every other predispositions that separate the varying formations of humanity closer and into competitions which forces clashes in every manner of difference possible. The resolutions of these conflicts will determine the future, or even if there is a future, of humanity. This makes every election worldwide and especially in the West, especially the United States as the flagship, and the manner of succession in undemocratic lands and the resolution of wars before their effects spread endangering other lands, as with Syria, and in such a manner as to advance peace and not more conflict. Bringing conflicts to an end and preventing future conflict while advancing intersocietal tolerance are the most important of the coming challenges we are going to face as a planet. Whoever can advance strong, flexible, determined, intelligent, intuitive leadership with an understanding of the needs and respects demanded by others and being capable of incorporating such in their negotiations and even more urgent and feverish emerging engagements and confrontations would prove to be the most intelligent of leaders. Such a leader would also be required to choose wise and capable advisors with diverse backgrounds so they can present the widest of potential venues and paths forward. As the ancient Chinese curse read, “May you live in interesting times,” and we most certainly are doing exactly that.

 

Oh, and where have I seen this campaign before? In a comic book come television show then movie series, Batman. There was an election in Gotham City between Batman and Penguin. Penguin ran a campaign based on how you always saw him in the company of police while Batman was always in the company of arch villains asking, who would you prefer as Mayor, one who keeps company of the police or someone who is always in the company of arch villains and criminals? (see below) Plot killer, Penguin won the election, of course. The result, well, that is the question after every election, isn’t it.

 

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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September 27, 2016

Nation State or International Integration

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The election this fall is not about Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Taliban, or other security. It will not be about most of the items the media is talking about. What it is about is the economy, jobs, employment, wages, and everything about the economy but not in the obvious ways being discussed. Where will this next Presidency balance? The main item is which way does it benefit the United States most, continuing internationalism or returning to nationalism.

 

The media and most politicians are pushing this global economy, global integration, global cooperation, global solutions while hiding a dirty little secret, they are selling global as the solution while having the United States and the advanced nations pay for everything while equalizing the global playing field, whatever that means. We had a debate last night and we heard more of the same. Clinton claimed more globalism and taxes on the rich and Trump tried and may have meant to sound like Reagan. What they were not telling the people is that Clinton was using the same internationalism where the world matters more than the United States so in order to equalize the world the United States and the advanced world has to bleed to allow the rest of the world to catch up and then all will be well and how wonderful the world can be. Trump is actually claiming that every nation take their own and put them first and attempt to allow the nations who are leading the world to continue to be the leaders and then assist other nations in making gains and follow and give them access to advances as they are able to implement these advances. So, which way will work best. That depends on which nations one decides should be permitted to advance their own interests than to share with the world.

 

Internationalism is wonderful if your country is on the receiving end and not so wonderful if you are being bled to bring the other nations up to their level. The problem with that are many of these nations that are presumably being given advances in order to raise them to the same level are led by dictators who are enriching themselves and not making their nations any closer to the advanced world as that does not directly benefit them. What these dictators are not being intelligent about is that had they advanced their nation they would have enriched themselves in the process. They are not even thinking nationally rather than internationally. Internationally is a recipe for disaster as it inhibits the leaders from leading and demands that the least efficient be granted the largess while the leaders are placed in financial straight-jackets. Internationalists place a stop sign where all nations must park their own business and park their nation by the side of the highway and wait for the rest of the world to reach an equal position. The problem is that many of these nations, which they are waiting for to reach the same point, are themselves broken and not gaining and will never catch up as they are not even making any effort to reach the next level. Internationalism believes that making all nations equal will solve the world’s problems and inequalities, despite it not ever bringing the rest of the nations to first world status.

 

 

World Map with Borders Deemphasized

World Map with Borders Deemphasized

 

Nationalism is the opposite view which allows each nation to advance at their own rate and still demands that the first world assist the developing nation but does not demand they try to make equal those nations so dysfunctional that they are the closest thing to an economic black hole as can be found. Nationalism rewards each nation for their efforts and allows each nation to gain at their own speed. Allowing the leaders to lead gives other nations a target and proven path they can emulate but without national gain by the wealthiest nations to blaze the trail for the others to follow. The basis for nationalism is it allows each nation to set their own monetary policies and is against unifying monetary policies as such a system is flawed and destroys the lesser productive nations which has been proven by the European Union Euro which has benefited Germany while leaving Greece behind. Nationalism allows each country to do the best for their own people and society. That does not mean that nations which are developing should not be aided and it is in the interest of the most advanced nations to assist those nations who are developing and making the right choices and allowing them to benefit from the experiences of those nations who have traveled those roads before them. But those nations which are completely dysfunctional cannot be assisted as long as their governance is broken and until the nation decides to change their dysfunctions there is no reason to throw good money after bad.

 

Internationalism is a wonderful, feel-good policy filled of kind words and low on actual results. Internationalism demands that all nations be made to give according to their ability and the funds are granted to countries according to their needs. Internationalism demands open borders allowing free immigration with no limits or criminal and other background checks or other limits or restrictions. The policies sound as if they will allow all nations equal opportunities in word while defining this policy as bringing all nations up to the same level and making things fair for all nations. The truth is that this is accomplished by tearing down the greater nations while benefitting some of the least deserving nations who are corrupt criminal enterprises more than they are actual functional nations. Rewarding the worst while impeding the best prevents progress and will constantly restrict progress and the discoveries of new technologies and new systems which would result in assisting those nations seeking a better future to implement the proven methods. To get an idea on the difficulties caused by internationalism there is a perfect example which we can observe, the European Union. How has that equal currency been working for over half of Europe who are not Germany or Britain but are Greece, Spain, Italy and even France and many of the former Warsaw Nations. The common currency has taken the small differences of economic production where the agrarian economies which work on a different production level having to survive with the same policies of the industrial and other highly developed nations.

 

World Map and Relative Wealth of Nations

World Map and Relative Wealth of Nations

 

Permitting each nation to perform at their highest level and to their full potential will set target paths for other nation to follow along the proven road set by the highest performing nations. Progress is the fuel that raises all nations in turn. Progress provides the test paths and allows developing nations to benefit from their more advanced nations but only when they decide to advance. No nation could be forced to grow their economy and advance their national infrastructure and when a nation refuses to advance itself then forcing the rest of the world to wait for such a nation to reach an equative level is ridiculous and counterproductive. Internationalism is wonderful idea if it could function as promised. Nationalism is the dirty sounding word which is accused of being selfish because it benefits the wealthy nations and prevents developing nations from ever reaching the top level. The obvious fault is that accusation is completely false. If nationalism prevented up and coming nations from ever becoming the top nations were true then China would have ruled the world, Spain would be a leading nation, Greece would be the top nation in Europe, Egypt would be the most advanced nation in construction and engineering, Persia would still control East-West trade routes, Portugal would be a great power with colonies throughout the world, and the Hittites would be the great power in the norther worlds of Europe through to Turkey. Top nations change and have changed throughout the history of the world while nationalism was the rule of the world. Internationalism has caused massive stagnation as the world as a whole is not permitted to advance because the leading nations are held back presumably for the benefit of the lesser nations. This will always be a supported philosophy as there will always be more developing and undeveloped nations than leading nations as only a few nations will be in the top ten percent, which is why it is referred to as the top ten percent. Internationalism has been working so well over the past twenty to thirty years since 1979 while the rest of history was pathetic and without economic advancement advances by all nations and we are still using salt as a currency, aren’t we? The progress from salt as money to salt as something on almost every dinner table was a result from nationalism, not internationalism.

 

Compare the two with eyes open and the preferable form, open competition or controlled advancement, the choice could provide opportunity or a slow decadence and eventual decimation. Internationalism is welfare on an international scale much in the form of the Soviet Union and the initial Plymouth Rock Colony which would have starved if not for the Native Americans who grew and hunted for surplus for the winter and had sufficient to teach and feed the Pilgrims. After that experience of all get all they need, while most gave nothing in effort, they introduced a new program where each family kept a percentage of what they grew and the remainder was shared, the amounts of food skyrocketed. That is the balance which nationalism can produce, the most advanced achieve at their highest level and those developing nations learn from those leaders and in time some will replace them as they eventually falter. That is the secret of effort based economies, the people or nations at the top changes with time when another makes decisions which make them even more profitable as the other sinks under likely bureaucratic waste. You decide.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 8, 2016

China and Words Whispered on the Winds

 

For as long as there have been predictive winds of the economic variety, the prediction has been whispered from quiet corners to shouted from the rooftops claiming this would be the time that China was finally going to pay for their economic shenanigans and face economic collapse. We have been extremely quiet about these predictions of doom on the horizon as the one thing the Chinese had been very adept at was finding some manner of continuing to meet predicted gains month after month, year after year. Their predictive gains have become somewhat more reasonable from the early 1990s where the reported gains stood around 11% to this past year where they reported merely 6% and are continuing to predict this can be continued. The problem the Chinese leadership is facing is they have pretty much run out of rabbits to pull from their hat and it is time to accept that even in China there can be a recession. But perhaps a little look back might help to explain.

 

China had some really rough years where Chairman (and virtual god) Mao Zedong was the absolute ruler and was executing the usual five year plans which are so precious to so many dictators. Equally precious to such five year plans is that they completely and utterly destroy the national economy and tens of millions die of starvation and other privations. The Chinese have literally tried everything in order to assure that whomever was at the top made a relatively high prediction of economic growth even to have gone to a fairly complete privatization resorting to a market based free enterprise system which had kept growth at around six to as high as nine percent for the past decade plus. To continue reaching such unrealistic goals the Chinese government has gone so far as to build entire cities where nobody was going to live just to add to profits. This also assisted the areas of the Chinese economy which is dependent on the price of copper. Building cities, even those nobody is going to inhabit, still required a fair amount of copper to install all the wiring necessary for a modern environment and using so much copper supports a higher price aiding the Chinese economic indicators.

 

Can the Chinese leadership find some miracle to pull off continued reported gains? Of course they can. After all, lying is always an option and that will work until the people rise up and overthrow the government demanding real and honest leadership. The Chinese watched the breakup of the Soviet Union and know that a contributing factor was pretending they could manipulate and lie their way to prosperity and the people would not be bothered by their lies. Apparently they were misled and paid the consequences. The problem in Russia was despite the change in governance there was little change in who governed and who owned all the wealth. China has wisely decentralized their economy and relied on free market principles throughout almost all sectors of their economy.

 

The Chinese leaders have found the one main problem with a free market economy, eventually even these engines need to cool off for a while and that causes an unavoidable recession. This creates one big headache for the leadership in China; they are expected to show profits and economic growth of at least five to six percent every year, period. That will be a real stretch in the next couple of years as their free market sector has reached the apex as things stand and now need to cool the system and take a few quarters, possibly a year or even two of reset and a settling of the economy before the next drive and prosperity again making all happy. The problem is the Chinese Communist Party insists in progress and growth every year or else heads will roll. In China, that is meant quite literally, thus the excessive need to find some way or reporting progress and gains in the economy. This would have been less of a problem had the economy not been buoyed with false growth figures in construction of uninhabited cities and the enforcement of a one child policy cause a drastic set of circumstances. Now China is facing a recession with a glut of male children entering adult life with poor prospects for matrimony coupled with an economic downturn thus even their rescinding the one child policy, it came far too late for these men in a society bereft of women. This adds another component which historically has almost always been solved in the same manner, finding a means of sacrificing a significant number of male citizens between the ages of twelve to twenty-something. That method has always been war.

 

This brings us to another side of China of late, pressing her claims to areas beyond her natural borders and the stationing of troops as a provocation on these fronts. Much of these provocations have been taken in the South China Sea where Chinese activities and demands are threatening long existent and heavily traveled sea trade routes. Add in the Spratly Islands which are claimed somewhat obviously by the Philippines and Viet Nam and add in China and you have instant conflict. This conflict over the Spratly Islands goes far further than the land based claims as should China successfully claim the islands they would also set solid their claim to the South China Sea as their own little private bathtub square in the middle of some of the most heavily travelled sea lanes in the world. This would allow China to control these sea lanes demanding taxes be paid on all cargo, disrupt naval exercises and travel in what are considered as international waters and be a provocation to war all rolled up in one package. The Spratly Islands are likely the end goal of the island building exercises taken by China in the South China Sea and could quickly escalate into an open confrontation should China use their newly built Blue Water Navy to enforce their claims to these waters. Additionally, there are the conflicting claims over the Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese claim and the Senkaku Islands as the Japanese claim (see map below). These two sets of claims are both very sensitive areas but thus far the Chinese appear to be more concerned with their claims for the Spratly Islands as they would cement the South China Sea as strictly Chinese and thus grant China control of the busiest Asian sea lanes and one of the most heavily traveled sea lanes internationally. This might also be the case simply due to the Japanese having a far more developed naval capability compared to Viet Nam and the Philippines and nothing more.

 

Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese Claim Senkaku Islands as the Japanese Claim

Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese Claim
Senkaku Islands as the Japanese Claim

 

The likelihood of an actual war breaking out over the Spratly Islands is considered by many to be a remote possibility. Of course the possibility of China building an island chain to the Spratly Islands and then placing Chinese troops, aircraft and shore batteries and placing naval assets moored to the Spratly Islands is also considered remote. The potential for open conflict with the Philippines calling in their support guaranteed by the United States could be a potential for a quickly escalating situation over the South China Sea, an area the United States desires to be open and free of any interference with trade as much as anybody. Even the Japanese have direct concerns over the Chinese increased territorial claims into the South China Sea. This could easily become a future flashpoint though such is unlikely until some situation would force the United States to emphasize their presence elsewhere pulling assets out of the western Pacific region. One such scenario would be a war in the Middle East threatening the oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf oil kingdoms where the United States would also be bound by treaty obligations. With the current United States Navy cut down to well under former levels of actual warships and also less support vessels meaning that the Navy would not be capable of staging on two separate fronts without leaving large segments of the world outside the reach of American naval assets. This is the situation faced currently as the number of front-line aircraft carriers has been reduced such that with one being refurbished then there would not be a full battle group to send into a crisis area forcing the redistribution of assets from areas considered less threatened, though where that might be is a difficult judgement in itself.

 

China is facing economic downturn for the immediate future barring some unforeseen manipulation of forced conflict requiring wartime production which would permit direct government infusions stimulating the economy in an unnatural means which would only make recovery from such a step even more drastic when the correction comes. No nation can continuously show the kinds of gains China has claimed indefinitely and eventually there must be a cooling-off period as the market resets and decides on its next direction for expansion. China did have the advantage of not being a modern, first-world economy after World War II and then struggling through the Mao Zedong five year plan years where things actually managed to worsen thus allowing for a long stretch of recovery, modernization and finally incorporating free market principles and now China is at a top point from which a reset is long, long overdue and pretty much unavoidable short of declaring war. One hopes that even China has progressed beyond using war as an economic stimulus where all markets are crashed to support the war effort allowing for a period of growth and rebuilding when the war is over. One had also best pray that the same is true in the Middle East where the people have reached the end of patience with dictators and are revolting in nation after nation which could threaten to engulf the Middle East, North, the Horn and parts of Central Africa and potentially Europe starting from Turkey and moving westward and northward and even including Russia in a bid to regain some of the lost power of the Soviet Era. Any blow-up in the Middle East and affected areas could be exactly the opening China would need to cement their claims to the waters and international shipping lanes of the western Pacific-Indian Ocean routes and disrupting world trade in hopes of using taxation of trade and other measures to continue to show profits at any cost. As long as tariffs and trade wars are considered a viable economic tool to be found in some national tool kits, then the world is still a dangerous place as long as that remains so.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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