Month: January 2016 (Page 2 of 3)

The convergence of Palin and Trump, and how it has been a long time coming

Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump two days ago, culminating a journey that began shortly after her ticket lost the 2008 presidential election. Conservatives that had been supporting or defending her for eight years finally broke with her when she broke with conservatism.

It wasn’t hard to see it would happen. Trump and Palin had a pizza summit together in 2011. Palin did a painfully fawning interview with Trump in 2015. Palin’s speaking skills and logical arguments had long been dumbed down. It may be they got even worse as she increasingly tried to create a celebrity brand for herself, or that Republicans overlooked some of her flaws when she was running for VP, but it was probably some of both.

At any rate, Politibunny, a grassroots conservative with 58,200 followers on Twitter, has had enough.

In a longer post on her blog, she said,

So I guess this is good luck with the Trump show because I, like many of your defenders and supporters, am done with you.

Many professional conservative pundits and intellectuals have already broken with her. Few of them liked Trump in the first place. With the Palin endorsement, it’s all coming together. Grassroots are losing respect for Palin, and conservatives from all sides of the movement are trying to stave off Trump. A new issue of National Review is dedicated entirely to being “Against Trump.”

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Reading List: Taiwan election commentary

Earlier this week, I noted how there is little being reported in the Chinese press about the Taiwanese election that put the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen in charge.

If you want to learn more about the election and its consequences, more than you can in the Chinese press, here are some insightful links:
When Will China Realize Its Taiwan Strategy Failed?National Interest

The Taiwanese have done a marvelous job of mental gymnastics in which they reconcile favoring closer economic ties with the mainland even as they utterly spurn any notion of political reunification. Polls consistently show meager support (often in the single digits) for becoming part of China.

One China, One Taiwan: Little Chance of a Red Future for Taipei – Salvatore Babones, Foreign Affairs

Now You Know the Terror (On how a Taiwanese singer was forced to apologize for holding a Taiwanese flag.) – China Change

Remarkably, she was then forced by her South Korean management firm to record an apology video: a mere 16-year-old Taiwanese girl forced to identify herself as a Chinese and admit that her holding the Republic of China flag was wrong.

Tsai’s victory speechMichael Turton

Together we have accomplished a great task for Taiwan. This is how I feel right now. However, I am calm at heart, because I know that in the future, my responsibility will only grow heavier. …
Thanks to all the people of Taiwan, we have completed the third transition of political power in Taiwan’s democratic history together. We have lit up Taiwan. And through our actions, we want to tell the world, once again, that Taiwan equals democracy and democracy equals Taiwan.

The Fall of the KMT?New Bloom

It would seem that the KMT is still internally fractured. This is along the lines of party divisions, between the Ma Ying-Jeou-led “Mainlander” faction and Wang Jinpyng’s “Taiwanese” faction, which is by comparison to the Mainlander faction more localized. Wang is himself close to some members of the DPP.

Anatomy of a Small AvalancheThinking Taiwan

The DPP is consolidating its 2014 gains: After getting the same voters to vote for the DPP twice in a row within a 14-month timespan, the DPP may have consolidated many of those swing voters, who only decided to give the “pan-DPP” camp a chance for the first time in 2014, into reliable DPP supporters going forward.

KMT ends with 35 of 113 seats in devastating lossThe China Post
It was their first time to lose the majority in the legislature.

KMT Loses Security Deposits in Some Races – Frozen Garlic

Pingtung 3: KMT nominee Hsu Chin-ju 許謹如 got 12.8% of the vote. DPP winner Chuang Jui-hsiung 莊瑞雄 got 4.18 times as many votes.

Tainan 2: KMT nominee Huang Yao-sheng 黃耀盛 got 18.7% of the vote. DPP winner Huang Wei-che 黃偉哲 got 4.10 times as many votes.

Kaohsiung 4: KMT nominee Kuo Lun-hao 郭倫豪 got 23.2% of the vote. DPP winner Lin Tai-hua 林岱樺 got 3.25 times as many votes.

Tainan 1: KMT nominee Huang Jui-kun 黃瑞坤 got 22.2% of the vote. DPP winner Yeh Yi-chin 葉宜津 got 3.21 times as many votes.

There were also seven other districts in which the DPP nominee got more than twice as many votes as the KMT nominee.

Did Blue Voters Stay Home?Frozen Garlic
Turnout was down from past elections, and some KMT voters might have stayed home, but the margin was so big that it would have been a big DPP victory even if turnout was higher.

DPP Goes After Minority Hakka Voters AggressivelySolidarity Taiwan
The Hakka and other minority groups have traditionally supported the KMT, but the DPP is making inroads there.

A high-spirited Tsai strongly advertised her support for the Hakka during her recently concluded campaign whirlwind tour of Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli Hakka communities where she rolled out her “Highway 3 romantic road” proposal [national government development of Hakka cultural and tourism industries in the Hakka geographic zone parallel to Highway 3]. As her political tides have turned she’s gone from pleading with Hakkas for support several years ago to promising to look out for them now.

EDITOR’S EXCLUSIVE: The Iran US détente is working

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s verbose, long, and overtly rhetorical last annual State of the Union address, which can in my opinion, in right concentration technically be weaponised as it was so boring and devoid of policy that it can kill, Iran did an interesting thing, captured ten US sailors in gunpoint. The details are sketchy, but here it goes. Two riverine fast water craft of the US navy, allegedly broke down, and entered Iranian waters. Iran intercepted them, and arrested the sailors, and brought them to Iranian shores for questioning. Ten sailors, including one woman were then kept in confinement, and then within 24 hours, they were released after a thorough questioning. At no point was anyone ill-treated, or tortured or threatened. In two more days five other Americans including a Washington Post journalist were also released.

The hardliners in both the countries are not happy, especially in US. Given the fact that this is election season is not helping either. Apparently the US is weak, and the Obama administration has given up on strength to control deviant powers and Iran, emboldened by the new nuclear deal is pushing the limits of American resolve. This will only get worse, and other powers would also push US as the perception of America is now a weak country. To sum it up, in short, it is all the fault of the nuclear deal. That’s the ongoing narrative. That’s also very wrong.

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Weekly Reading List: All about China and India

So, India, which thinks itself to be an upcoming Great power, got soot-faced when Jihadis targeted an Indian Airforce base. They didn’t get anywhere, but it was still embarrassing for a “Great power”. As I write here, why.

On the other hand, China came out with it’s first Arab policy paper. Utterly vague, with loads of historical reference, as you would expect from a Deputy Secretary level Bureaucrat wasting his precious Friday evening. On the other hand, maybe not…it’s China what do you do on a Friday eve anyway. Jokes apart, it is important, because it is the first paper regarding the region, which highlights how important it is for China. My piece here.

Finally, this one is interesting, a debate regarding the future of the world order, from Chinese perspective. Funny, cause it never highlights any change in the World order. So essentially China is and will be following the same liberal international order, but in a Chinese version of it. Like a bag from the aptly named “Lose Vuitton” in a Hongkong flea market. I am not joking, this is actually an interesting debate which highlights the difference between the foreign policy thought process. My piece here.

What happened in Taiwan? In China, nothing.

You wouldn’t know the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) just won the presidential election in Taiwan, ending eight years of a pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) government, if you read Chinese newspapers.

The day after the election, none of the newspapers in Nanjing* carried the biggest news of the day on their front pages. Even looking inside the papers, no news of the election was to be found. Now three days after the event, still nothing. The front page of Modern Express, a newspaper run by Xinhua, the national state-run news agency, includes mini-headlines about how Modern Express‘s social media account is #1 in the province and how “China’s top fatty” is coming to Nanjing to lose weight. The lead story is about a cold front soon to hit eastern China? A metaphor?

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Monday Reading list: Apple, debates, and Chinese food

Here are selected articles by Bombs and Dollars editor Mitchell Blatt published in the past two weeks:

To the Chinese, Our Presidential Debates are a Bad Sitcom (Acculturated)

To be fair, the Chinese aren’t alone in laughing at The Donald and other ridiculous characters in politics. A debate moderator accused Trump of running “a comic book version of presidential campaign, and FOX News host Bill O’Reilly opened a segment of his show by imagining what the GOP primary contenders would be like if they were stars of a reality television show. Joking about politics is an international pass time.

Even in China, with its limited scope of political discourse, social media users mock local government officials and joke about corruption. One popular joke holds that in America, rich people get involved in politics, while in China people involved in politics get rich.

Still, from the many conversations and experiences I’ve had during the four years I’ve been living in China, it seems as if the Chinese public views the flaws in democracy as the rule rather than the exception.

Read full post.

Social Justice Warriors At Oberlin Don’t Know Anything About Ethnic Food (The Federalist)

Contrary to all appearances, the Oberlin Review is not an Onion-style satire of social justice commentary. One might be excused for thinking so, however, after reading some of its headlines. The student-run newspaper of Oberlin College recently reported, “CDS Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say.”

Yes, now even making or eating foods another culture has inspired counts as “cultural appropriation.” If we can’t enjoy nights out eating sushi or Korean barbecued meats (and, in many cases, putting money into the pocket of an immigrant entrepreneur), then what’s the point of living? This social-justice warrior (SJW) craziness almost made me reach for a glass of sake until I realized that sake is a foreign import.

Read full post.

Why people gather overnight for Apple grand openings (China Travel Writer blog)

Apple fans lined up outside the ist mall in downtown Nanjing at 11 pm Friday, January 15. They came from around China, some from as far Beijing and Chengdu, 1,600 km away (1,000 mi). The occasion? Nanjing’s second Apple store was opening the next day.

To a casual Apple fan like me still rocking an iPhone 3GS, it didn’t seem like much. Apple has over 472 stores in the world, including 32 in China, and Nanjing already has one in Wonder City mall, but some fans are super obsessed with new store openings. Lloyd Yu, from Beijing, has seen two dozen grand openings. “Apple has changed the world. It has changed everyone’s lifestyle,” he said.

Read full post.

Donald Trump is wrong: Chinese imports to the U.S. are taxed

Donald Trump reiterated his own calls to add an extra 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports at the Fox Business debate today (Thursday night in America). After initially denying comments the New York Times had clearly reported him making, he later tried to justify those very comments that he claimed to not have made.

At the debate, he made the proposal because China had been accused of devaluing its currency:

What I said to the New York Times, is that, we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount — where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.

However, in his original interview with the Times, he didn’t mention currency manipulation.

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Is Rubio’s message turning nativist?

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. quoted yours truly in his column on January 10. His argument was that while Marco Rubio started the campaign off with an optimistic, forward-looking tone, he has shifted towards a gloomier message recently.

The conservative writer Mitchell Blatt sensed this when he called Rubio “the Republican Barack Obama.” He meant it as a compliment. “A Republican Obama,” Blatt wrote last fall, “is just what the Grand Old Party needs to face a changing electorate.”

But since the beginning of the year, a new Rubio has appeared, a man given to funereal orations about the passing of the old America.

“Something’s happening,” Rubio declared, and the something, voters have been telling him, isn’t good: “This doesn’t look like my country anymore. I don’t recognize America. What’s happening to my country? I feel left behind. I feel out of place.”

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Star Wars is the story of China’s foreign policy

“The Empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide.”

The Supreme Leader instructs his men to eliminate the Republic. That’s not just a major part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it has also been the state of relations on the Korean Peninsula and in Greater China at various times in the past century.

Contrarian critics have defended the Empire as a righteous nation trying to defend itself from terrorists, but as episode VII shows, it could just as well be a Communist thugocracy. Throughout the series relations between the Empire and the Republic are like relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Taking a long view (and why not considering the Galactic Republic existed for 25,000 Star Wars years), Star Wars is really the story of the never-ending quest to unify (and expand) one’s empire, the very history of China.

In Jonathan V. Last’s seminal piece in the Weekly Standard “The Case for the Empire,” Last argues that the Galactic Republic before Palpantine’s rise, otherwise known as the Old Republic, was a tyrannical and inefficient behemoth that opposed the rights of the Separatist planets to secede and form the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS) in Attack of the Clones.

However,

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Chinese media celebrates landing of plane on artificial island

China has been working on constructing an artificial island with an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef since 2014. The reef, known in Chinese as Yongshu Reef (永暑礁), and part of the Spratly Islands (Nansha, in Chinese), is also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China has occupied the reef since 1988.

Now that China’s 3,125 m-long (10,253 ft) runway is complete, they have taken the next step, by landing airplanes on it to welcome the new year, including two commercial jets.

Xinhua, the official state news agency, was proud of the achievement, saying in part, “The successful test flight proved that the airport has the capacity to ensure the safe operation of civil aviation large aircraft.”

The Oriental Morning Post featured a photo of the runway with the passengers and planes, one from Hainan Airlines and one from China Southern, on its front page on January 7, 2016. The headline refers to the runway as China’s southernmost “civil aviation” airport*.

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