Archive for the 'General' Category

Eh

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Bernie was unintentionally funny discussing this subject at the kick off to his run for the presidency (fill in the blank). Also, here’s some people we’ve never heard of. Bonus mildly amusing thing we also never heard of. That’s it for now.

Crybully etc.

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Looking around the cultural landscape today, I conclude that we are in the midst of a sort of negative religious revival: let’s call it America’s First Great Awokening.

Evidence of our society’s wokeness—a false awakening sparked by political grievance— is all around. I’d like to begin with what the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa called the “coincidence of opposites.” Unpacking exactly what Cusa meant by that arresting phrase would take us into the thickets of metaphysical speculation. But we see pedestrian examples of that strange coincidence everywhere. Indeed, one of the great tests of our wokeness is the extent to which many things have mutated into their opposites—not awake but awoke. Inversion is a dominant principle of our social life.

Consider, to take just one example, the fate of our colleges and universities. Once upon a time, and it was not so long ago, they were institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the transmission of the highest values of our civilization. Today, most are dedicated to the repudiation of truth and the subversion of those values. In short, they are laboratories for the cultivation of wokeness. This is especially true, with only a handful of exceptions, of the most prestigious institutions. The tonier and more expensive the college, the more woke it is likely to be.

There are two central tenets of the woke philosophy. The first is feigned fragility. The second is angry intolerance. The union of fragility and intolerance has given us that curious and malevolent hybrid, the crybully, a delicate yet venomous species that thrives chiefly in lush, pampered environments.

The eighteenth-century German aphorist G. C. Lichtenberg observed, “Nowadays we everywhere seek to propagate wisdom: who knows whether in a couple of centuries there may not exist universities for restoring the old ignorance.” Doubtless Lichtenberg thought he was being clever. How astonished he would have been to discover that he was a prophet, not a satirist.

Surely many of you have heard about the Twitter sensation Titania McGrath [about whom we had more to say in these pages in our April and May 2019 issues]. She is the author of many extravagant woke pronouncements. Item: “If you don’t think exactly the same way as me, then you’ve clearly got a lot to learn about diversity.” Satire? Or bulletin from the front?

The world recently learned that Titania’s real name is Andrew and that all those woke observations were in jest. A certain amount of hilarity ensued. But the serious point is this: McGrath’s sly tweets are indistinguishable from what is actually, seriously being propagated today in academia—and not only in academia. The mantra is “Diversity.” The reality is strictly enforced conformity about any ideas that might disturb the heavy moral slumber of wokeness.

And here’s an irony: when the free speech movement started at Berkeley’s Sproul Hall in 1964, it was a left-wing movement that demanded tolerance and challenged conventional behavior and mores. Today the Left espouses the opposite—not tolerance and free speech but conformity and censorship.

Acouple of years ago at Encounter Books, I was proud to publish The Demon in Democracy by the Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko. A prominent theme in that book is the persistence of totalitarian impulses in putatively liberal societies. Just a few weeks ago, as if to illustrate that thesis, Middlebury College suddenly rescinded an invitation to Mr. Legutko to speak. Why? Because a handful of student snowflakes decided that Mr. Legutko’s ideas were not in perfect harmony with their own.

Middlebury, of course, is the institution that covered itself in shame two years ago when protestors there loudly and violently prevented the social scientist Charles Murray from speaking and then, in the resulting melee, sent a female faculty member to the hospital. And here’s the kicker: Middlebury is not some wacko exception. On the contrary, its malignant embrace of woke identity politics is the rule in the American educational establishment, and, increasingly, in the American workplace.

The suppression of free speech by the wardens of wokeness has prompted many conservatives to champion free speech as an all-purpose antidote. I sympathize with that endeavor. But tonight I’d like to put the debate over free speech into a larger context.

The fact that the Left celebrated free speech in 1964 and now abominates it as a token of white supremacist ideology suggests the issue is not really, or not only, free speech. Like all freedoms, free speech is defined by the responsibilities it embraces and the culture in which it thrives. Some advocates of free speech maintain that, when it comes to the free expression of ideas, anything goes. No ideas, they say, should be off limits. They say that. But I do not think that they really believe it, since one can easily produce a long list of ideas that they would be horrified to see circulating.

But that in turn suggests that the whole debate over free speech needs to be seen in the context of its larger purpose: its role in the metabolism of education, first of all, but also the place of education in the social-political dispensation of our country.

For assistance in making this point, I’d like to introduce you to a once potent, now largely forgotten political thinker named Willmoore Kendall. Kendall was an important mentor of William F. Buckley at Yale in the late 1940s. He was a founding editor of National Review. Leo Strauss said he was the most important political theorist of his generation.

Among other things, Kendall saw deeply into the dialectic of disagreement and free speech. It is understandable that conservatives should react to woke intolerance by celebrating free speech. The criminalization of policy differences that underwrites woke culture is an alarming development. But I think that Kendall was right when he contended that “by no means are all questions open questions.”

To explain this, Kendall points out that all societies are founded on a “consensus,” what he calls “a hard core of shared beliefs.” This is especially true, he notes, for the United States, whose founding principles are of recent vintage and are clearly and deliberately set forth. Freedom of thought and expression are important, Kendall acknowledges, but only “within limits set by the basic consensus.” Should that consensus be challenged by something “with genuine civil war potential,” the proper response is not debate but interdiction. Edmund Burke made a similar point in his Reflections on the French Revolution, as did James Madison when he spoke of “that veneration” for tradition—what he called “the prejudices of the community”—which even the wisest societies abandon at their peril. Abraham Lincoln, in his stalwart prosecution of the Civil War, demonstrated his agreement with Kendall’s insight.

Kendall was writing at a moment when international Communism posed an existential threat to the United States. With that in mind, he argued, “Some questions involve matters so basic to the consensus” that, in declaring them open, a society would in effect “abolish itself [and] commit suicide.” Accordingly, Kendall outlined two views of free speech. The first, dedicated to the proposition that “no truth in particular is true,” holds that all questions are open and that no one position is to be preferred to another. The second view, his view, turns on two words: “We” and “truth,” as in the phrase “We hold these truths” from the Declaration of Independence. The identity of that “We” and the substance of those truths mark the limits of interrogation.

Legal historians will note the similarity between what Kendall says and Justice Robert Jackson’s famous observation, in his dissent in Terminiello v. City of Chicago (1949), that the Bill of Rights is not “a suicide pact.” When it comes to free speech, Jackson said, the choice “is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either.”

When it comes to free speech, Jackson said, the choice “is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either.”

Conservatives have rightly lamented the assault on free speech that is such a conspicuous and disfiguring reality of life in America today. But that loss only achieves its true significance in the context of a more fundamental erosion: the erosion of that shared political consensus, that community of sentiment, which gives life to the first-person plural, that “We, the People,” which made us who we are. Should we lose that, we shall have lost everything.

Gosh, wish we’d written that.

Miscellany, some of it fun

Friday, May 24th, 2019

(1) Nun supremacy. When we looked at this idiotic chart, we recalled that in first grade, Sister Isabelle Mary used to give us arithmetic speed tests; you had to put your pencil down when time was up, whether or not you got all the addition and subtraction done. This is contrary to most of the chart on what’s not allowed in NYC schools. (2) That fish is a little smelly – what caused it? (3) Bismark in drag – really? (4) Caution, geniuses at work. (5) Baba Booey alert! CNN political commentary.

Bonus Question: what percent of high school seniors can translate the phrase Sic semper tyrannis and know at least one of its uses in American history?

Quack

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Quack Quack. ‘Nuff said.

The Midnight Sun, again and again and again – sigh

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

NR

There is a “major shift” afoot in corporate America on climate change, according to Axios. On Monday, energy reporter Amy Harder reported that major companies “across virtually all sectors of the economy, including big oil producers, are beginning to lobby Washington, D.C., to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.” These companies, in other words, are asking the government to make them pay more in taxes in an effort to solve global warming.

“The nonprofit Ceres, which works on sustainable investments, is organizing a lobbying push this week with more than 75 companies, including BP, Microsoft and Tesla.” A group called “CEO Climate Dialogue,” made up of 13 Fortune 500 companies, also launched this week. And another lobbying group called “Americans for Carbon Dividends” was recently promised $1 million from two oil companies.

So why are corporations so passionate about a carbon? “It’s not really about saving the planet,” Harder noted. Indeed, in the face of growing public support for climate action, these companies increasingly realize they need to throw their weight behind some kind of climate policy. They want a carbon tax because it doesn’t threaten the industry’s very existence and allows them to keep polluting—so long as they pay for it.

drastic action is necessary to prevent catastrophe, and a carbon tax simply isn’t drastic enough. To keep global warming in check, the economy needs to be completely decarbonized by the year 2050 — and the changes that will get us there need to be in place in the next 11 years.

These idiots are trying to turn this into TZ’s most boring episode. (That was 1961 and we’re still here, whew!) Hmmm, did we say idiots? Yes.

Example: better not use cauliflower as part of the solution, according to the genius in our midst.

Smart move FWIW

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

The House may pull the trigger shortly, and it’s a smart move, given their arsenal of nothing. That way CNN and friends can cover Barr and the Three Stooges as a ploy by the Evil Madman to deflect attention from his vile insanity and crimes.

RC nuttiness, not cola: Francis made a strong new push for globalism on Thursday, calling for a supranational, legally constituted body to enforce United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and implement “climate change” policies. Also in Christian news: “I have never been made to feel so physically ill by an email before. Taylor University, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Claire Hadley, who graduated from Taylor in 2015, began in a long Facebook post. “I am physically shaking. The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it’s students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year??”

What a world!

Yawn – everybody in the Other America now knows what happened

Monday, May 20th, 2019

First read VDH. Beyond that, we get all hazy with the details about bringing the crooks to justice. There’s this guy Barr, another guy Durham, some other guy with the title IG, whatever that is. They’re going to put on a long long play for the next couple of years that the media will find very boring.

Our play would have one scene. The Three Stooges go to the White House for an “intelligence” briefing. At the end of it, the FBI Stooge tells the other two to go, because he has a secret to impart. The secret is the Dossier, with its pee pee platter or pupu platter or whatever. The purpose of the disclosure is twofold: (a) legitimizing the Dossier as a news story because the President has been briefed on it; and (2) doing a CYA for the Stooges themselves. After the White House briefing, the FBI Stooge calls the DNI Stooge and says Mission Accomplished, after which the Dossier is promptly leaked to the media. Then Lights Camera Action for 2+ years!

It must be fun to be in the club that the Three Stooges belong to. After all, it’s a club where you go from making $170,000 one year to $6,000,000 the next year. Which is all swell until you have to start wearing the orange jumpsuit perhaps sometime in the next decade. Whether that happens or not, at least we know now a critical part of what the Stooges and their fellow club members did.

Quoting VDH

Monday, May 20th, 2019

VDH:

our top officials at the DOJ, CIA, FBI, and NSC, as well as James Clapper as director of national intelligence, likely broke federal law, betrayed their agencies, and in general acted in an abjectly unethical manner on the premises that 1) Hillary Clinton would be the next president and their behavior would be rewarded; and 2) in the aftermath of her defeat and after Trump became president, that Trump could either be removed or so discredited that their own prior illegality would either never come to light or would be contextualized as noble resistance. Until election night, they seemed to have been correct in their assumptions.

Given the subsequent serial efforts of #TheResistance to remove or destroy president-elect and President Trump — the suits to overturn the voting in three states, the attempted subversion of the Electoral College voting, the efforts to invoke the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and the 25th Amendment, the early impeachment vote, the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Mueller investigation, and the brouhaha over Stormy Daniels, the Trump tax returns, Michael Cohen and Michael Avenatti — these officials still believed that their prior behavior would either eventually be praised or at least excused. But they bet foolishly against the viability of Trump.

The appointment of William Barr as attorney general has sobered the lawbreakers, and perhaps soon the media, which may not wish to go down the drain with their erstwhile FBI and CIA speaking-truth-to-power heroes. No longer are Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and McCabe along with a host of others insisting that they acted nobly. No longer are they in solidarity in their defiant opposition to Donald Trump. Now, for the first time, they are pointing fingers at one another, because they have come to realize that their prior criminality may not be rewarded, praised, or even excused, but rather prosecuted.

No, “likely” is incorrect, but we understand the reason for putting it in.

Some brief reading

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

(1) Roger Kimball has a lot of fun giving boot and others the boot. The next two bits are about today’s Three Stooges, and we just can’t keep up with all that. (2) was the dossier used five times or just four; (3) more Flynn stuff in that depressing tale; (4) Herman Wouk, author of our first high school novel, has split the scene, after having lived a lot longer than this guy. Have a good day!

History repeats?

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Early draft, mostly Jefferson, but also Franklin and Adams:

A Declaration of the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, & to assume among the powers of the earth the equal & independant station to which the laws of nature & of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change.

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive right inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying it’s foundation on such principles & organising it’s powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness.

prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light & transient causes: and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

but when a long train of abuses & usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, & pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government

Mayor Pete:

You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong.

And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the founder fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that

we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that.

Some right-wing commentary:

Buttigieg’s candidacy is a precisely aimed culture war bomb. He was groomed from childhood for the Culture War. His father, Professor Joseph Buttigieg, who died this past January, was one of the world’s leading experts on Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist theoretician that Marxists the world over look to for guidance on waging the war on Christian culture.

“A ‘culture war’ has been raging all about us for many decades. The forces of organized decadence are waging this war according to the detailed battle plans laid out by Italian Communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci in the 1920s and ’30s. The Gramscian strategy called for a long, patient march to capture the cultural “mediating institutions”— the media, schools, universities, churches, civic organizations, publishing, and entertainment — to overturn entrenched religious and cultural values.”

Professor Buttigieg, who taught at the University of Notre Dame for nearly four decades, was no neutral, dispassionate academic studying a modern subversive movement. He was a passionate evangelist for Gramsci’s gospel of longterm, patient revolution. He was the translator and editor of the three-volume English edition of Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks. He was also a founding member of the International Gramsci Society and served as its president.

Comments: (1) the Gramsci commentary is very interesting – more here; (2) whatever else you think of Mayor Pete, he’s obviously one of the really smart guys in the Other America, so he’ll probably be very interesting to watch in coming years; (3) since Mayor Pete seems to be calling for something similar to Jefferson in the first section above, we’d like to see his version of a First Section Above.

Some trade talk on exports and GDP

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Answers to the Friday quiz on exports as a % of GDP in the US, Germany and China: World Bank says: 12%, 47%, 20%. Our guesses were 10%, 50%, 25% – so not too bad.

(BTW, It’s all even more complicated if you care to look: gross exports, net, etc. Let’s look at “trade” as % GDP: USA 27%, Germany 87%, China 38%. Finally, note that most US exports go to Canada and Mexico. Bonus: you can make the calculations much more complicated if you like.)

So to get back to the point, in a $20 trillion US economy, the US exports $100 billion in food and goods to China, and China exports over $500 billion to the US. Obviously China’s exports to the US are much more important to their economy.

Thus, fiddling with tariffs on $500 billion in a $20 trillion economy to get some fairer arrangements is no big deal. The correct response to the story is a brief yawn. No wait, it’s another global crisis created by a madman! Once again, the media have shown they can’t do arithmetic, which won’t improve under new SAT rules.

(Oh yes, we haven’t even mentioned the Huawei story.)

Not devoid of significance or interest

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Barr: It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis. Definition: devoid of significance or interest.

Good times lie ahead, cf. jejeunosity.

Friday quiz

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Guess what the percentage of GDP are exports in (a) USA; (b) Germany; and (c) China. Don’t look it up! We’ll discuss tomorrow. Bonus unfun: (1) Twitter; (2) SAT; (3) Facebook.

Wow

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Some very good reading available. (1) Larry Arnn has an excellent discussion of the new Andrew Roberts book on Churchill. (2) Conrad Black, whom we met briefly decades ago, has a scary story with one happy ending. (3) Jack Cashill, who determined that Bill Ayers ghosted Dreams, has a terrific piece on Frank Marshall Davis and a recent president. (4) VDH on China.

Line in the sand

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

amny:

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a proposal to limit the use of glass and steel in building facades on Monday, while unveiling a series of environmentally friendly initiatives, including a requirement for larger buildings to cut emissions and a plan to purchase hydropower.

De Blasio dubbed his platform New York City’s Green New Deal. Its name nods to national efforts to transition the economy toward more sustainable endeavors, recently popularized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens). The city’s Green New Deal debuted on Earth Day as de Blasio publicly weighs a run for president.

“We make very clear we are not waiting on Washington, D.C. because that would be to our peril,” de Blasio said. “We are not waiting on leaders who deny global warming is even happening.”

Citing slim, glass towers in Hudson Yards, the mayor said his administration would shepherd through legislation in 2019 that prevents new buildings from being composed of traditional glass and steel — both poor insulants — because they waste heat and electricity and drive up carbon emissions.

Such shells would not be permitted under the revised building energy code unless they include a newer glass that better retains heat and absorbs sunlight, or the structure offsets the air leakage with efficient temperature control systems or other new technology, de Blasio said.

“What it’s going to mean is building owners won’t build those type of buildings, or if they choose to, they’re going to do a lot to compensate with other energy saving measures,” de Blasio said.

Beyond building facade material, de Blasio said the city will begin negotiating to purchase Canadian hydropower, with the goal of striking a deal by the end of 2020 and powering all city operations with renewable sources of electricity within five years.

The mayor announced he would sign a measure passed by the City Council Thursday, which mandates that buildings over 25,000 square feet cut their carbon emissions by 40% by 2030; and curtail them by 80% by 2050.

“Any landlord who does not achieve these goals will be subject to fines of up to $1 million per year. In some cases, in the largest buildings, it could be over $1 million,” de Blasio said. “That’s real money and it sends a real message that this has to happen.”

Next to Marxism, and indeed allied with it, the stupidest religion created in the last two centuries is climate change. (Well, it’s not stupid if you’re a scam artist and you make money on the hoax – then you’re just evil.) It’s long past time to draw a line in the sand and call these idiots idiots.

0% CO2 in 100 parts air. 0% CO2 in 1000 parts air. How dumb can you get? Hey, when we lived in NYC, we saw temperatures increase over 100 degrees in a single year!

Calling this crap crap is not without risk, since apparently a majority thinks this stuff is happening. But if the scam artists have to eliminate the MWP to phony up their numbers, it’s time to enjoy ourselves and let them squirm.

Durham

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Solid guy, and, at least historically, has gotten broad bi-partisan approval. Yeah, we know that in a few weeks or minutes he’ll be the evil love-child of Béla Ferenc Dezso Blaskó and Pennywise. No doubt he did something bad in high school in 1965, and we’ll be hearing all about it soon and over and over again.

To be or not to be

Monday, May 13th, 2019

a lady, that is. Friends, Romans, countrymen, it’s really difficult to take the current nonstop MSM yelling. At least the nuttiness didn’t begin in this century.

Unrelated: word from the American Soybean Association. Yep, there actually is one.

China’s financial leverage continues to grow

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

WSJ

The amount of stimulus injected into the economy in the first three months this year was stunning to some analysts. Larry Hu, an economist at Macquarie Group, says policy makers went into “panic mode,” pumping 2 trillion yuan to 3 trillion yuan ($293 billion to $439.5 billion) of extra spending and credit into the economy. Government spending on rail, highway and other transportation projects jumped 47% in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Outstanding credit growth — including bank loans and bonds issued by companies — grew 10.7% at the end of the first quarter from a year earlier, central-bank data showed. Local governments used up 40% of their annual new-bond issuance quota in the first quarter alone, leaving limited room for localities to borrow later in the year, Moody’s said.

The efforts seemed to pay off: The economy expanded 6.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to government data. The pace was the same as the end of last year — pointing to stabilization — and industrial production, lackluster at the start of the year, roared in March.

But some analysts worry that China’s ammunition is becoming constrained. After tax cuts, total tax revenue growth slowed sharply in the first quarter due to a drop in personal income tax collections. Slowing revenue but faster spending drove up the central government’s deficit. The government targets a deficit of 2.8% of gross domestic product this year. Economists say the actual deficit is already on track to top that target.

China has increased Total Debt to GDP 2x in the last ten years, and Household Debt to GDP 3x. Also, debt is 160% of GDP in China, versus 74% in the USA – a pretty remarkable difference. Given these figures (even given the FT analysis of the other day), stable trading markets in the US and China are – quite logically it seems to us – pricing in a fairly nice trade agreement between the two countries in a little while.

FT’s view

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

FT:

For anyone who has negotiated with either Donald Trump or the Chinese Communist party, the collapse of US-China trade talks thanks to last-minute brinkmanship will come as no surprise.

At noon Beijing time on Friday — midnight Thursday in Washington — the US increased tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent after it accused China of “reneging” on earlier promises at the eleventh hour.

To a US audience, Beijing’s tactics seem straight out of the president’s playbook as described in his 1987 book Trump: The Art of the Deal.

But this is actually standard operating procedure in the Chinese Communist system. Frontline negotiators — in this case vice-premier Liu He — are never empowered to finalise agreements and must always seek final approval from their bosses before a deal is signed.

This dynamic allows the negotiator to portray himself as a “good cop” who is trying his best to convince the emperor back home to agree to the barbarians’ unreasonable demands. When major revisions to an agreement suddenly appear at the last minute, they are presented as non-negotiable and the best the dealmaker could secure from his leader.

Anyone who has ever dealt with the Chinese system can describe this maddening process in detail. They will also tell you it is highly effective.

But on this occasion, Beijing appears to have overestimated Mr Trump’s desperation for a deal and underestimated the depth of frustration and anger in Washington when it comes to China.

Over the course of the past two years, the old American consensus around the need to engage and accommodate China and bring it into the US-led international system as a “responsible stakeholder” has evaporated. Today, the bipartisan consensus is that an increasingly authoritarian and expansionist China presents an existential threat to that world order.

Beijing’s miscalculation over these trade talks stems not only from a misreading of American resolve.

It is also the result of changes made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Communist Party’s internal structures since he took power in late 2012.

People familiar with the inner workings of the Chinese leadership say it is impossible for anyone to privately criticise or disagree with Mr Xi, especially since he abolished term limits on himself and abandoned a tradition of collective leadership that has been in place since the start of China’s economic reforms in the late 1970s.

This has fostered a culture of sycophancy at the very top of the ruling party and increased the chances of over-reach and miscalculation.

It also greatly reduces the ability of China’s negotiators to make significant concessions, since the face that would be lost belongs to the man at the very top.

Bloomberg: Vice Premier Liu He said that in order to reach an agreement the U.S. must remove all extra tariffs, set targets for Chinese purchases of goods in line with real demand and ensure that the text of the deal is “balanced” to ensure the “dignity” of both nations.

We have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen.

The answer: arrogant lack of Plan B has created this nuttiness

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Why the “rage-on strategy” with Trump when so many of us know it is stupid and silly? The answer is: they have no Plan B, and never in their wildest imaginings did they ever think they would need one. They have believed they are gods. Plan A was “Russia.” Almost certainly they believed it, since their own side had a lot of monkey business with Putin, and sauce for the goose, etc. Also not unreasonable, since their target was a NYC real estate developer, and no doubt had done some shady things from time to time. Putin? Put him on a long list.

Back to the business about them being gods in their own minds, therefore no Plan B was necessary. The Comey situation is illustrative. You go from putting Martha Stewart in the can to joining the exclusive beltway club. You only make $170K a year there, but the magic part is that you can flip that to $6MM a year at a company where 70% of its $50 billion revenue comes from the government. Hey, one hand washes the other. (We all know that, one way or another, guys like Brennan, Clapper and the other criminals have their own sweet deals. That’s what membership in the club gets you.)

It also gets you no oversight under normal circumstances. So what if you submit multiple phony FISA warrant applications? No club member is going to call you on it – under normal circumstances. Under normal circumstances Plan A works all the time, one way or another. Hence our current situation, that greatest rarity when Plan A fails to work, and hence the nuttiness and ever louder banging the gong, as they await their new outfits, not from Savile Row.

Update: consider the Sharyl Attkisson case. It’s even worse than we thought.