Friday, November 30, 2018

When It Comes To Huawei, Corporate Media Think "National Interest" Is The Dividend China Gets For Owning Us

It's pretty interesting watching the reactions in the media to the GCSB disallowing Spark from using Huawei tech in the 5G network upgrade.

Spark et co appear to be pushing the "not allowing us to use the lowest-cost [and most national security-risk entailing] gear cuts into our profit margins. SO WE ARE GOING TO PASS THE NOT-SAVINGS DIRECTLY ON TO CONSUMERS! NICE JOB MAKING NETWORK ACCESS MORE SECURE AND EXPENSIVE FOR USERS, GOVERNMENT!"

That's .... probably to be expected. Although it's rather unfortunate that there's no acknowledgement of the potential desirability of having a network that's *not* a bought-and-paid-for playground for PRC malfeasance , as a worth-while trade-off for the aforementioned slight increases in outfitting price.

Of greater interest was the revelation that New Zealand has historically been rather circumspect about PRC-produced materials - and that this was only really reversed under the John Key-led National Government. It probably shouldn't be any form of surprise; and it's possible that one could argue that it was only in the late 2000s/early 2010s that Huawei managed to get to a point of offering the hardware in question to markets such as New Zealand.

But even so, it is both amusing and very much "playing to type" that Key apparently put such emphasis upon attempting to get NZ providers to start integrating Huawei tech into national infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the newspaper commentariat are hand-wringing about how all of this might affect ongoing trade with the PRC.

And while yes, to be fair, the PRC remains a significant market for New Zealand ... the plain reality is that there's something unwholesome about the unseemly prioritization of nominal trade-flows over apparently everything else.


"Look, never mind that there's a straight up statutory duty for the GCSB to report and advise on *exactly this kind of proposed network improvement* effort. How DARE they do it when we've got negotiators over in Beijing RIGHT NOW attempting to lobby for an upgrade to the Free Trade Deal we've got with the PRC ??? MADNESS!!!"

And so on and so forth.

Now, all of this would be bad enough ... but it's not like our economic interactions with the PRC have ever really been a "two-way street".

After all, it wasn't so long ago that we were significantly penalized for putting proper scrutiny on Chinese steel imports to New Zealand - this, after it turned out that their certification as to quality and safety (done in the PRC) had turned out to be fundamentally fraudulent, leading to construction projects having to be re-done and railway tracks warping under use leading to at least one derailment.

Far be it for me to dare to suggest that a few large corporations operating in NZ, or a former Prime Minister with a key background in international finance ... might be more keen on earning interest than the national interest ... but it really does seem like many of those advocating and agitating for or on behalf of the PRC in these situations are operating on a fundamentally different set of priorities as compared to the rest of us.

Either "McWorld" ... or "McWorld with Chinese Characteristics".  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Why The Democrats Actually Lost The Midterms

Controversial Opinion: The Democrats actually kinda *lost* yesterday's US Midterms.

Confused? Consider this - it is not simply that the "Blue Wave" failed to seriously materialize in the tsunami force some had anticipated.

While picking up a reasonable number of Congressional seats is, indeed, a positive for them ... not being able to shift the balance of power in the Senate means that most of the hilarious hijinks and scandal-seeking shenanigans some of the more breathless anti-Trump types have been clamouring for are ... unlikely, at best. And that is before one considers the potentiality for the Republicans to actually have *increased* their holdings in the Senate.

But looking more closely at some of the newly minted Democratic representatives to have entered Congress as a result of this Election, it becomes clearly apparent that something has changed - something has shifted.

The "Party of Clinton", the "Party of the Establishment"/DNC types are increasingly being harried from their 'leftward' flank.

The trend which reached its first high-water-mark in recent years with the insurgent candidacy of Sanders two years ago during the Presidential Primaries ... and more recently which has seen all manner of kitchen-sinkery thrown at Tulsi Gabbard lest she *dare* become something of a 'spiritual successor' (with better foreign policy) to Sanders heading into 2020 ... has continued with a number of the Democrats who've won, as it were, often two elections -

that of their own internal selection battles against more 'established' or 'establishment-favoured' candidates; and then the 'external' ones against Republicans in the actual contests themselves.

What does this mean?

Even despite the somewhat cosmetic victory of the Democrats in Congress - and I say "cosmetic" because when one looks at the facts, it becomes plain that on many issues and in many measures over the past two years, there have been sufficient Republican representatives etc. prepared to vote with the Democrats (and, to be sure/fair, occasionally vice-versa) to mean that there has not been any sudden "capturing" of the balance of momentum not previously held there ..

Even *despite* this 'colour-victory' there, the plain reality is that the Democratic Party has found itself struggling to make serious inroads fighting its way "rightwards" into the Republicans, and/or successfully "marginalizing" Trump.

Indeed, one can compellingly argue that Trump's increasingly 'interventionist' striding into the Mid-Terms has had the *exact opposite* effect to what one would have predicted if he were anywhere near as unpopular as any array of media opinion-pieces, Democratic "strategists", and even polling would appear to suggest.

Meanwhile, it shall be very interesting indeed to see what takes place on the party's Leftward flank.

Regrettably, one potential and very strikingly plausible pathway 'forwards' (that is, in reality, no such thing) - is much like the 'gabions' utilized in coastal defences where shorelines are suffering from erosion.

These are large steel cages loaded up with rocks - which dissipate the force of the waves coming into them up into the crevices and gaps, without allowing the actual coastal terrain behind to be seriously buffeted or broken down to be worn away and transported.

How this would manifest, then, in the Democratic Party, would be the slow and steady co-option of these 'insurgent' Democrats - until they, too, are part-and-parcel of the well-worn DNC machine.

An early example of this was, in fact, the unfortunate fate of Sanders - reduced, in some ways, to a mannequin in exchange for minimal policy-concessions of the DNC's national platform.

A more recent instance, that of the recent social-media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - who despite being a prototypical poster-child for *exactly* this kind of "ouster the Establishment moribund : empower the rampancy of the margins" mentality ... has evidently started to find herself under similar pressure in recent months since successfully winning her Democratic Primary. You can see this, particularly, in her dramatic and strident shifts of rhetoric on Israel and related matters - to "toe the party line", lest she find herself cut off at the knees.

[Tulsi Gabbard, by contrast, has previously suffered quite some attacks from what is nominally supposed to be "her own side" for resolutely failing to be similarly compromised]

So that is *one* likely occurrence: the DNC doing what it always does ... and proving that "assimilation" is the most successful pathway of destruction, of what would otherwise be 'radical' or 'insurgent' elements. Along with 'annihilation' - or attempts of that nature - against any who will not yield. And 'marginalization' of the remaining few who still stand, even if it means 'standing alone'.

While waiting, I suppose, for the youthful 'idealists' and 'enthusicrats' who have propelled such candidacies to get disillusioned and disenfranchised and stop bothering or caring - or "grow up" onto the next generation of craven and unprincipled 'party hacks' and 'apparatchiks'.

Another, potentially more 'hopeful' development, would be the genuine growth of an 'alternate' caucus - either within the Democrats, or perhaps more 'cleanly', both inside-and-outside (i.e. much more mamentable to 'independents' and 'third/fourth' tickets') , to foster and propel a more overtly 'left wing' .. and, for that matter, rational foreign policy, grouping.

Such a thing was talked about during and after the Sanders candidacy, of course. But I am unsure how seriously taken such an idea still is. It seems that the "threat of Trump" has caused an abandonment of such potential sensibility - of multipartisanship, one might perhaps say - in the face of the "usurper of Clintonism".

A third, parallel development that *is* actually gaining steam (much to my amusement) is some sort of 'hybrid' 'third ticket' which brings together allegedly "moderate" republicans with the Democrats of the establishment and righter-wing of the party, in order to, I suppose, try and act as a 'spoiler' ticket against the Republicans should they run Trump again in 2020 .. but which actually professes to be pushing for a more 'bipartisan' set of "solutions".

The Neo-Neo Consensus spreading its wings and shedding its bi-tonal camouflage, one might perhaps say. The party of Bloomberg and Kasich.

If these two latter developments were to happen "in parallel" to each other - as appears increasingly likely to be at least somewhat the case - then it could very well start to sound the death-knell in meaningful terms of the modern Democratic Party.

Some might be scared by this.

But in all honesty .. while I am no great fan of 'accelerationism' for exactly the same reasons that Marx himself was wont to oppose it (the sheer level of human cost and human casualties required in pursuit of this much-mystified "ideological purity" of ultimate outcome) ... it is increasingly difficult to see how continuing to support the "establishment" which wishes to see American politics - and therefore, politics across much of the Anglosphere and the World Over , run as an effective "one party state" (with, as a certain Tanzanian political figure once remarked - the characteristic extravagance of daring to have two parties at once with which to do it), is actually a thing worth supporting, still much less "preserving".

Bring on the "destruction". Bring on the "transcension".

Just please, keep it far, far away from here at let us get on with our own domestic political 're-alignment' in peace.