Cooperation, Not Combat

The trade war with China accelerates as the Trump administration’s latest tariffs have been matched. Talks have broken down, and Trump seems to think that the taxes are paid by China, not US consumers. He’s not going to back down anytime soon.

Where does it stop? If the end goal is an even trade between the two nations, it’s not actually possible to accomplish it this way – unless it drops to zero. There are systemic problems in world trade generally and China specifically which create this issue that can and must be worked out. A competent administration would do that hard work and create a world that is much more even all around.

But no, we’d all rather just bully our way to prosperity or something.

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Not-Journalism

Long before there was “fake news” there was the National Enquirer.

It’s not as though obviously false stories written for entertainment, and to make a buck, were anything new. The Enquirer, however, gave the form a brand name. Anyone stuck behind a person with a full shopping cart came to know Bat Boy, Lobster Boy, Bigfoot, and a parade of celebrities doing awful things. It was a chuckle usually wrapped around a sneer – “Who reads this stuff?”

Though this rag was known for publishing nearly anything, what it deliberately didn’t publish turns out to be much more interesting.

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Capital Controls

The currents of the oceans carry warmth to northern latitudes. The jet stream can be ridden by jets carrying travelers to new adventures. In much the same way, money flows around the world in waves which make nearly every aspect of our economic life possible.

That may be coming to a halt soon, however. The climate change that brings us trade wars also shuts down the financial weather systems which move in a predictable bounded chaos. Our ability to predict the economic future, always right in bulk but rarely precise, may be closing down.

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Google “craven”

The battle between the US and China is heating up. The stakes are high, having both pride and money on the line. It’s a classic showdown reminiscent of old times.

It looks like 1995, that is, in that a search engine war is just heating up. This one is between google and baidu, the Chinese search engine that rose to dominate the Chinese market after google pulled out in 2010 rather than comply with censorship laws. Google is reversing that decision in a strategic business operation which will leverage …

… oh, who am I kidding. Google is selling out bigtime and crawling back to China. Wow.

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How Stupid Are We?

It’s nothing but a sideshow. The real story is indeed how much Trump has sold out to Putin and his mafia, and what that group did to get him elected. But as a sideshow to the main circus, The Michael Cohen story unfolding in the press, not a courtroom, is a great test.

We can see in real time just what this particular group of people is made of, and it’s not good. The salacious details, all about affairs and how to cover them up, is attention grabbing. But if there is anything to learn from this it’s that we are, indeed, dealing with a group of gangsters who are largely incapable of telling the truth.

That clarity might be useful when the real story advances to impeachment. More interestingly, we may learn just how the public digests stories like this and what they wind up believing.

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Treason

The United States is under attack.

It is not an attack with bombs or airplanes. No one has been killed and property has not been damaged. It is, however, an attack on the most valuable thing that we have, something over a million people have gladly given their lives in the past to protect – our democracy.

This is a highly coordinated and sustained attack by a foreign power. It is still ongoing, and appears to have gradually grown more sophisticated over a period of years. There is reason to believe that will continue unless it is stopped.

Denial of this attack and the perpetrators who we certainly know are carrying it out, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, is hindering our response to this attack and making our democracy more vulnerable. That this effort to thwart our defenses and distract the public’s attention away from the threat comes from the very top of our leadership can only be described as treason.

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Inflation

In 1981, America stood at a genuine crossroads of the Postwar era. It seemed as though everything had been floundering for nearly a decade. Watergate, oil price shocks, and inflation were eating away at the faith and the paychecks of American workers. Millions of them had entered the workforce as Baby Boomers came of age, only to find that working life was no longer a ticket to any kind of American Dream.

Into this rode a hero as if on horseback. The assault on runaway inflation had been orchestrated since 1979, but it was about to come to full fruition. No, that hero wasn’t Ronald Reagan, it was Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Interest rates rose to 21%, the highest the Fed has ever seen. It worked. Volcker would eventually be mythologized heavily for his role in killing inflation once and for all.

It’s an important story because inflation, the villain of the 1970s, is definitely back.

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