Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 11, 2017

More smoke got blown this week. South Korea's president is stepping-up efforts to talk to China about North Korea. Asian culture dictates that a country as big as China doesn't give a rat's synthetic tail about what a small country like South Korea thinks. All South Korea can expect is to be in China's debt merely for listening since the diplomacy won't affect outcomes whatsoever. China probably knows this. Whatever "deal" does or does not follow Moon's efforts with the Chinese will be an indication of China's greater intentions for the future. Don't expect too many fireworks; it's mostly politicians blowing smoke.

Things in Korea are stepping up, however. More sanctions are coming down. Secretary of State Tillerson commented about possible naval blockades, which sent a threat of "declared war" bouncing back from the North Koreans—more blown smoke from all sides. As for South Korea and Japan cooperating with the US—they will be "watching" missiles from North Korea. Usually, missiles have little to watch other than a trail of—well, a trail of smoke.

The big note to take about Moon is that his obsession with "talking" and "reconciliation" could prove very valuable after other players (the US, the UN, possibly China and others) do their parts to initiate reunification on the Korean Peninsula. When Korea becomes one country again, it might benefit from a leader like Moon who hungers for an opportunity to get opposite sides talking. But, we'll see.

China's state-run tabloid commented that a visit from the US Navy to a Taiwanese Naval port would activate a kind of "Anti-Secession" law in China and China's PLA would invade Taiwan and immediately reclaim the territory. The statement came months after US Congress approved and planned such port visits between Taiwan and the US for 2018. Taiwan is responding by constricting and banning select visits from Chinese diplomats, usually surrounding topics of "Human Rights" and warlike rhetoric. Again, all sides blowing more smoke without a shot fired, yet.

Usually, boiler cars bellow more smoke, blow their whistles, and let off steam as buildup to a conflict mounts—or just before a train wreck. The smoke is not without meaning, but as of this week, smoke blown remains little more than blown smoke and neither the topics nor the players have changed.

In fact, every small development reported by news outlets seems to follow the format of new facts in the first few paragraphs followed by the same, long background story, whether the background is about a conflict between North and South Korea or between Taiwan and China. That's what you call a clue: The press seems to feel that the public will need that background for the avalanche of news to come.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, December 11, 2017

Little to nothing new happened this week. The supposed Democratic attempt to fry Moore by frying Franken only fried Franken. Franken's seat is secure for Democrats; Moore's seat would be up for party grabs in Alabama. The theory goes that the Democratic party viewed Franken as expendable since a Democrat would likely replace him, but Moore, a Republican, would be replaced by a Democrat, thus the Democrats would gain a seat in the Senate. By accusing and frying Franken of the same kind of sex scandal as Moore, it seemed to be non-hypocritical for Democrats to expect that Moore step down.

That's the theory anyway as to why so many Democrat-leaning voices went after Franken.

Theory or no, it didn't happen. The Clinton years cemented the unofficial Democratic position that "sex and morals" don't affect politicians—that a man can cheat on his wife and remain loyal to his country. Republicans are the party of "morality police", in a sense. Once a sinner proves he is a sinner, it's time to hang a "scarlet letter 'A'" around his neck and burn him at the stake. But, especially with the public being tired from having to remove Kevin Spacey from their "favorites" lists, the Republican voters don't want anymore. "A Republican proves to be a sinner in need of forgiveness" no longer means that "moralless Democrats need to gain power" in the minds of Republican voters. The press "pooped in its diapers" over scandals one too many times and the Religious Right just doesn't care anymore. The "scandal trump card" is no longer part of the rules as of this political season.

With the Alabama special election coming up tomorrow, and a tax bill about to get through Congress, headlines may finally change a little from what they have been for the past month. Thanks to the continued distraction provided by Mueller's ongoing and seemingly directionless investigation of Russianewsgategate, the White House is moving forward and may start creating new headlines soon. Not having to write the same story week after week will come as a relief to some writers, but a disappointing alarm to get off the couch for the mainstream.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 4, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlFTIlhm9yY

The US is gearing up for a demonstration of it's new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets. North Korea is providing the perfect opportunity. When all is done, be ready to count the headlines in which the F-35s appear.

There are a variety of factors in the North Korean conflict. As you count them, don't exclude the need for the US to show force in the region. Just two examples include Putin's manners in Crimea—where Russian soldiers flew a flag over a building they had taken before a proper referendum became final—along with China not playing by UN rules with its man-made islands, yet remaining a UN member. There are other situations in the region.

Suffice it to say that North Korea is a perfect opportunity for the US to beat its chest and clear its throat for all to hear. Were there no such need, the US military presence might be a lot more low-key in the process of North Korea's government being on the way out anyway. Always remember that Washington occasionally thinks like Hollywood—in the White House as in the Capital Building and at the Pentagon. America loves theatrics and, knowingly or otherwise, nearly all Pacific nations played their roles as the foil.

Once Korea becomes one nation, tryouts for the next performance will likely soon follow.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, December 4, 2017

Demagoguery hit the fan. It's never been more obvious. Reputable news sources—not the average British tabloids trying to tell Americans what to do—are rehashing old plays from the playbook: Congress is worried about the president saying things on Twitter. If the president doesn't obey someone he hired and can fire, now that's called "finding a loophole".

The president can say what he wants. The president can do what he wants in the White House without having to find loopholes. That's especially true with the village of cards Obama made with his executive orders that he knew would be so easily blown away by whoever the next guy was to take office. If Obama can create czars with no legal basis, the president should be allowed to talk to a White House staff member without getting permission.

But now, the Russianewsgategate scandal is making its full about turn, though the boomerang isn't quite back in hand yet. The DOJ oversees the FBI; Congress oversees both. Whatever—whatever—Congress says, the FBI and DOJ must do, including answer questions. It seems that they didn't answer questions. Congress is moving for contempt action, which isn't pretty. Though the president kept his peace, now the "directionless" special investigation is so obviously without good purpose that the president feels it's okay to say so.

The funny part is, had Jeff Sessions not caved into the anti-Trump pressure to recuse himself, he would be hit with the contempt action from Congress. But, he played by anti-Trump rules, so, ironically and poetically, Congressional action against a seemingly anti-Trump motive won't hurt him. Grab your popcorn. This will only get more entertaining.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 27, 2017

Korea has on display the essential cultural clash that causes and sustains conflict across the world. North Korea's leaders won't communicate. They think non-communication entitles them to get whatever they want. South Korea's president harbors something against Japan. It would be indefensible to claim his resentment is anything other than pure racism; the WWII Japanese government is gone and most WWII-era Japanese who harmed his country have died. His resentment against Japan can only be against their descendants—the Japanese people themselves, categorically defining him racist.

That's the leadership in the Koreas. No wonder the country is still in a state of civil war.

This week, the spineless diplomacy of South Korea's president proved itself so incapable. North Koreans are so desperate to keep people in their country that they tried to kill a defector before he escaped—a stark contrast to the US Military's verdict on Bergdahl. In their desire to contain and kill their fellow soldier, North Koreans blundered, firing over and crossing the Military Demarcation Line. The violation of the armistice was clearly not malicious, but out of control.

The UNC (South Korea & US) solution to the armistice violation was communication—to request a meeting. North Korea's solution was to cut the phone lines, dig a ditch, and close the bridge. The UNC responded by blasting messages on megaphones across the border. We don't see South Korea solving problems by digging ditches or closing bridges nor do we see North Korea solving problems by communicating with a stack of megaphones.

It's clear who is who, who wants to communicate, and who wants to be a hermit. "Trying to talk" with North Korea is a ridiculous suggestion. Cozying up to China won't help anything either, regardless of China's view of the matter. China looks like the adult in the room—canceling airline flights to a self-doomed hermit kingdom and yet remaining open to talks with both North and South Koreas.

In times like these, flimsy leadership methods don't measure up to the great problems staring straight in the eye—no matter how much racism a flimsy leader uses to think himself wise.

Though the armistice has been tested, though it is still in place, the US will not back down on the request for a meeting to discuss the armistice violation. If North Korea does not answer the call, the US will have all kinds of excuses to badger and approach, and perhaps even invoke certain provisions of the armistice for such times that it is broken.

We could be looking at an avalanche that leads to the end of the North Korean regime, when all the North Koreans had to do to stop it was simply pick up the phone.

That describes almost every conflict, at every level from families to friends to companies to religions to governments, everywhere in the world. It's just easier to recognize our own problems when they seem unique to the Korean Peninsula.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, November 27, 2017 – Thanksgiving

This past week America celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday in memory of a few brave Pilgrims who had determined to escape Europe's oppressive Feudalism. For the most part this week, American news reflected that we haven't finished the challenging road that those Pilgrims began almost four centuries ago.

Thanksgiving celebrates God's provision for a Bible-reading people who sought new lands where parents could teach their own children to read and write and think critically so they could grow up and understand the Bible for themselves. Everything good in America today came from that wise ambition.

Their economy was based on the first known Communist experiment, almost three centuries before an eastern nation tried the a more official version of the same principle: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. When the Pilgrims abandoned that experiment, instead, for individual stewardship and self-reward, their shortages abandoned them, the colony prospered, and their Feudalistic investors got their money back, all while respecting the crown that granted them passage. The colony in the north became financially free, and thus the rest of the colonies almost free at last.

While, at the time, Britain had only colonized what is today the southern area of the United States, a well-veiled blessing brought bad weather and forced the Pilgrims to land in the north and found colonies that would eventually become the Norther States that would preserve the Union and give Lincoln's "new birth of freedom" more than two centuries later.

No doubt wicked Men try relentlessly to commandeer the prosperity and growth pioneered by the Pilgrims. No doubt many among the masses who don't know any better blame the Pilgrims and the nation that came after them for the evil deeds of those wicked Men. Still, Americans who carry the heart of the Pilgrims today press on, even in the face opponents who wield false accusation.

One important lesson from the Pilgrims we see especially on display this Thanksgiving: Respect is the best road to freedom. It might be the only road.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 20, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOftz57BjeA

Trump visited China in friendship and peace. His granddaughter sang in Mandarin. Her video was played at a high profile state banquet. Everyone seemed happy.

In South Korea, President Moon, likely to go down in history as a failed diplomat-wannabe, rehashed South Korean hard feelings against the Japanese. His country— threatened by his enemy to the north, backed by its ally, China—is cozying-up with China.

Trump was en route to visit the DMZ in Korea, but heavy fog forced Marine One to turn around. The US president returned home and China sought to strengthen relations with North Korea.

Regardless of whatever happens in and between the US, Japan, China, and North Korea, South Korean President Moon will go down in history as a capitulator who let a century-old vendetta guide him into the friend of his enemy. While the Western press narrative is to paint China as the bad guy, Moon is the real bad guy because he is the only leader in Asia who shows weakness.

China would do well to learn from Moon's errors. Every bit of progress China makes with Korea comes from pressing forward and abandoning revenge campaigns of the past. Everything South Korea stands to lose comes from reviving revenge campaigns of the past.

Korea, both North and South, has become an arena. With North Korea's dependency on China and Moon's capitulation, Koreans are no longer players in the game. Either the US or China will be the one to bring peace on the peninsula and the region. The winner will be whoever looks to the future and forgives the past.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, November 20, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TklJqOx2HHI

When Trump came home, the bleacher coaches had a thousand and one opinions. The press expected victory overnight. But, the success of a diplomacy trip is not found in what happens during the trip, but what comes in the weeks and months—and years—after.

Too many loud voices don't know how to think long-term.

Artificial Intelligence has become a religion. Many might have guessed that with how many tech users and leaders idolize their own technology. But, it is becoming official. The attempt to create a computer smarter than humans—that seeks to obtain more civil liberties than humans—should be immediately regarded as an enemy of the state and the people.

While AI could be engineered to smartly serve the people, certain ventures seek to personify machines and revere them as sentient—a dark hope to make AI-oppressors of the sci fi movies become a dark reality. No one in right and wise mind would not call for an immediate dismantling of those projects that overtly seek to make humans lesser than the machines humans create.

Technological advances have not brought peace in America. No, America needs Jesus.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 13, 2017

At the APEC summit in Vietnam, Putin told Trump that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 election. Putin was sincere. At the same time, Taiwan is beefing-up cybersecurity, ostensibly to counter "daily" and "Russian style" attacks originating in China. If everyone's rhetoric holds true, that means that there aren't any threats at all.

Trump offered to help settle disputes in the South Sea. The Philippines' finance minister complemented Trump on knowing "the art of the deal". The Filipino president does not want any problems in the South Sea. China would rather settle disputes one-to-one. Will everyone get what they want? We'll have to see. This is a chance for China also to earn compliments about negotiation skill from Filipino leadership.

Trump was very friendly in China. He underscored the importance of cooperation between the US and China. It was one of the kindest things he ever said. He publicly conducted himself in some of the kindest ways he ever has since running for office. China received him with respect and his public appearances went smoothly. If there ever was a good chance for peace, now is the best chance there has been for a long while and is probably the best chance there will yet be for a long while.

Will things go peacefully? We'll see.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, November 13, 2017

The vote swing in this week's "off-year" election is not a referendum on Trump, but a referendum on a divided Republican party. The victories came largely from a state that twice elected Obama. The party will succeed in elections as much as it succeeds in unity. Disowning Trump has now proven that it only helps Democrats, which makes all the sense in the world.

Trump has every reason to continue to allow Mueller's investigation. There doesn't seem to be any dirt on Trump to find, Mueller keeps losing credibility, and Anti-Trumpists are well-distracted by the distant hope that Mueller might find something to warrant impeachment. While the Mueller drama continues, Trump can get legislation through Congress, many Anti-Trumpists are too tired to notice, and the press doesn't have any ink left to report on it. That's not to mention that the stronger the fruitless scrutiny, the stronger it makes Trump look, not to mention a 25% boom in stocks since Hillary conceded. If Mueller is part of a conspiracy, it almost seems that his "conspiracy" would be to help Trump. That's what he is accomplishing, anyway.

Christians are getting even more guns. They are doing it legally and they are arming to the teeth. The Texas Church Massacre has opened many eyes to the vulnerability of certain traditions. "Conceal carry" seems to be a favored answer. Everyone is hardening their stance, the country is polarizing, and, thanks to social media, everyone's political opinion is on record. This year, the country is getting some of the strongest—and most helpful—looks in the mirror we've gotten for a long while.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 6, 2017

While America faces its own falling "houses of cards", Asian empires face their own truth. With three aircraft carriers, and a fourth soon on the way, the US military presence in Asia is the highest it has been in a long while. Trump is currently making the longest presidential visit to Asia since 1992. It's a bold move, something the hermit kingdom wouldn't dare.

The bold visit to the region is part of a greater strategy, make no mistake. On the one hand, Trump gains respect if he only launches an attack in a region he has already visited. On the other hand, the enormous military presence makes it clear who can't win, no matter the losses. Arguably, the military buildup wasn't so much preparation for an invasion as it was to make the way for a visit from the president. A presidential visit to the region shows solidarity on Trump's part: North Korea's days are numbered. That level of confidence outshines both Kim John Un and Xi Jinping.

Make no mistake, Trump's visit serves not only to understand leaders, not only to court favor with his voter base, but also to gain respect from the people living in Asia—both in the countries he visits and the countries he does not.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, November 6, 2017

Given the new revelations, Kevin Spacey needs to plead guilty, lead the charge against perversion in the entertainment industry, personally apologize to the case of House of Cards, and finish Season 6 without pay in which Underwood "finds Jesus" while Anthony Rapp makes an appearance to say what needs to be said. Anything short of that would squander the duty, the ability, and the obligation that sits on Netflix's shoulders. If Spacey and the filmmakers don't use the limelight they are in to make things right, they also will suffer. After all, Netflix is in the business of films from the same "bad crowd".

Dark reports are flooding America, including reported perversions of Martin Luther King, Jr. Russianewsgategate is in an outright tailspin, shooting itself in the foot with an investigation of a known-to-be fake crime many Democrats even said should not be pursued.

The nation's president was away this week on a trip to Asia. A pastor was away when his local church in Texas was brutally attacked by a lone shooter. He massacred the congregation unchecked.

It is a season of recompense in America. Things aren't going to get better for some time. As our idols fail us, we're all searching our souls and contemplating eternity. Whether we choose redemption or lynching is an across-board choice that affects not only the people we might forgive, but also ourselves.
continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 30, 2017

In the daily governance of Hong Kong, China has proven itself as a competent overseer. Hong Kong's "Basic Law", a kind of mini-constitution imposed not by referendum, keeps the SAR autonomous. Hong Kongers have only two reasons for complaint, having not chosen the Basic Law for themselves and the gentrification of Chinese money re-defining native Hong Kongers as a new lower class living among some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Crud hit the fan, however, when Beijing decided to "vet" Hong Kong politicians in advance. The Basic Law makes no direct provision for advanced-vetting, a statutory or policy decision heavily subject to interpretation. Youth are often quick to complain. In the minds of Hong Kong youth, Beijing's advanced-vetting policy is a violation of the Basic Law. Accordingly, Hong Kong youth have no interest in learning about the Basic Law from Beijing.

Now, Beijing has planned a Hong Kong -wide broadcast from a Mainlander—a Chinese speaking from Beijing's view—to educate Hong Kong students about the Basic Law. Schools are under no obligation to participate in Beijing's offer, so the public is led to understand. But, when your higher authority vets your politicians without a word-for-word clause to justify it, then invites your school to optionally learn how to follow the law, it is difficult not to feel some kind of pressure to "volunteer".

The best thing for China to earn good will is to rescind the advanced-vetting policy in favor of Hong Kong's local interpretation of the Basic Law and to allow only three schools to listen to the Basic Law address, applying with good reason. That's "basic law" of supply-and-demand economics. But, those ideas may be difficult for the Communist regime to quickly grasp.

So, it looks like China's path ahead will see plenty of conflict and strife. The student objections to the Basic Law seminar will by no means be the last, nor will it be Beijing's last attempt to educate Hong Kong's population.

The US has its own approach to PR. Notice how Korea made fewer Western headlines this week, though the situation is far from finished. Trump's planned visit, purportedly to include the Korean DMZ, is certainly a bold move to demonstrate courage from a leader and to eclipse North soldiers' respect for Kim Jong Un who wouldn't dare to get close. Don't be surprised if Trump walks right up to the border and speaks through a megaphone and says, "Where is Kim Jong Un? He can talk to me. Your leader is a coward. Don't trust him." Don't be surprised. Such a move befits Trump and would begin a cascade of implosion from within the Kim Dynastic ranks.

continue reading

Standard
Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, October 30, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmGga10HM6I

Many establishments are imploding—Europe, big entertainment, the political establishment. Many people press forward for love, truth, and life without animosity. Old establishments resist and impugn themselves.

Suspected Russian money dubiously making its way to Trump's campaign advisor, Manafort, neither indites nor acquits Trump or Russian collusion, but suggests that someone was attempting to interfere, both through secret operatives and smear campaigns. Mueller is getting into deeper hot water, now including CNN. Russianewsgategate, continues to expose corruption, but not where originally purported by the "exposers".

Reconciliation and loyalty are powerful. As of press time, the best bet for Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp would be to repair damage and cooperate against the immoral addictions that plagued their industry long before either of them became actors. Neither attacks the other, but they only speak in humility. They have a perfect recipe for lemonade. If NetFlix drops Spacey, their own "house of cards" will fail, just as "acquiesce-management" style backfired on the NFL, Limbaugh's sponsors' response over Sandra Fluke, General Motors' surrender to union demands, politicians' white flag addition, and others. If Spacey stays on, House of Cards ratings will rise and Hollywood corruption will fall. Anthony Rapp needs a soapbox role in Season 6.

continue reading

Standard