Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Turn out the lights

State Department telegram of Jan 1950, months before the Korean War would save Chiang Kai-shek. If only the US had possessed the political imagination to plot a different course....

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By the waters of the Leman I sat down and wept...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

Lots of stuff in the news this week -- and none of it much good. Yesterday the Taipei Times printed an editorial from its sister paper, the Liberty Times, on the mad plan to allow Taiwanese to take positions in the local governments in China, which it described as "selling out the country, step by step."

A few days ago, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) held talks with China-based Taiwanese businesspeople. During the meeting, the head of the Taiwan Business Association requested that the government allow Taiwanese businesspeople to hold positions in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to increase their say on China’s government policy and help protect their rights and interests in China.

Giving in to such a demand, however, would irrevocably destroy Taiwan as a nation.

Nevertheless, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said that the provincial and municipal levels of the CPPCC were not as politically sensitive as other Chinese government posts and that her council would look into the issue to see if the law leaves room for interpretation.

She also said she hoped it would be possible to relax regulations to let Taiwanese businesspeople achieve some measure of political power in China.

Xinhua news agency recently reported that Taiwanese businesspeople had complained to Ma about not being allowed to become CPPCC members, telling him they hoped the law could change and that Ma had said the idea was a good one that would be a breakthrough in protecting the rights and interests of Taiwanese businesspeople.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) and his colleagues are planning to push for the required amendments in the legislature.

But a Presidential Office spokesperson said Ma had only told the businesspeople that the MAC would look into the matter of low-level CPPCC membership.

This is evidence that the Ma administration already has decided that it wants Taiwanese businesspeople to become CPPCC members. Restricting such membership to provincial and municipal levels would be just the first step.

As the editorial points out, the Regional Administrator Ma has already downgraded Taiwan's status by saying it is not a state. Now the KMT wants to change the law to bring Taiwan under China's control even further by integrating Taiwanese into the China government. Current law absolutely forbids Taiwanese from assuming positions in the China government.

As if to reinforce this, current Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan told a group of Taiwanese-Americans yesterday that Taiwan can't afford to ignore China. That's right -- with exchanges of every kind in motion, with thousands of tourists going every month, hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese living there, and tens of billions in investment, and a whole foreign policy driven by China's ongoing campaign to annex the island -- yes, Taiwan has been ignoring China. Lai's sage advice was couched in the euphemistic, patronizing language of Establishment doubletalk....

“While mainland China must blend into the international community, Taiwan cannot continue to guard against the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and block cross-strait exchanges,” she said.

“The survival and development of Taiwan will depend on whether we can incorporate with the world. The sooner we do so, the faster and deeper the assimilation will be,” she said.

Lai made the remarks at a gathering held by the Taiwanese Association of America in Chicago, Illinois.

When Taiwan tries to connect with the rest of the world, it must not avoid China deliberately, but must reduce unnecessary obstruction to cross-strait interactions, she said.

I love that phrase.... "reduce unnecessary obstruction." It has the same ring as the free-market fundamentalism of "reduce unnecessary regulation" -- a signal that safeguards are about to be taken down and wholesale looting to begin. It is jarring to recall that when she was appointed to the MAC, there were international headlines announcing that she was a "pro-independence" politician. R-R-Right.....

Meanwhile the US Federal Reserve extended credit to the last independent bank on Wall Street. After years of free market yammerheads immiserating the universe by telling the Third World that utopia was just around the corner, if only their governments would stop all that nasty socialist care for their own people, the US government has socialized its financial sector. With its invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration has gravely wounded American leadership in democracy and human rights, and with its catastrophic mismanagement of the financial sector, it has now savaged the US position as a champion of free markets and arbiter of world financial markets. And this from a "conservative" Administration. The Bush Administration's response, with its blatantly corrupt and completely predictable demand for unlimited power, was merely the last vicious act in the Administration's gutting of the US and its political and social institutions. It introduced, however, an ugly new player in US financial markets....

Morgan Stanley, which has some US$36 billion in bank deposits, said it sought the new status from the Federal Reserve “to provide the firm maximum flexibility and stability to pursue new business opportunities as the financial marketplace undergoes rapid and profound changes.”

Some reports said Morgan Stanley was in merger talks with Wachovia, one of the largest US banks, and that China Investment Corp could take a stake in the company as part of a deal.

Anyone out there remember that other world, the one where Chinese companies ran into trouble and had to drop $18 bids to buy a US oil firm? My how things change... China Investment Corp (CIC) is a subidiary of China's massive sovereign investment fund, a $1.8 trillion monster that China has already demonstrated it will use for political purposes. Now Chinese government firms are being brought in to help stabilize our socialized Wall Street firms.... "The creatures outside looked from pig to man , and man to pig, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which...."

Which brings us to the real issue: China is flush, and in Washington DC there is an entire political class with a giant FOR SALE sign on the front lawn. China awash in money, the good ship US dismasted, rudderless, and adrift, and Taiwan run by a party bent on annexing it to China... well, things haven't looked this bleak in a long time.

22 comments:

Sean Reilly said...

By the waters of Babylon there we sat down, yea, we wept,
when we remembered Zion.

-Psalm 137

So many fools doomed to repeat
suffering already more than complete

-unknown

Michael Turton said...

Shit yes....

reeb said...

.. well, things haven't looked this bleak in a long time.

The understatement of the year Michael.

Regarding the MS deal, here is another interesting factoid, a FED pdf that outlines changes to the rules for Chinese ownership of US assets.

Pretty soon, people in the USA may be going to "Goldman Sachs WaMu Citic" bank or "Morgan Shanghai" bank to get their mortgages. (or even to pull out their yuppie food stamps ($20s) from ATMs since many small banks will be gobbled up.)

Along this line, perhaps what may also happen is that many rich CCP Chinese will have a chance to bail from China and buy up cheap US McMansions. (since their .gov will have a foothold in the US mortgage industry) Jim Willie touches on this in his latest article. (same link that I posted in an earlier thread). Of course, this all depends on if the Chinese economy doesn't swirl down the toilet faster than the USAs.

STOP Ma said...

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I still think that it is somewhat inaccurate to call this the "nationalization" of Wall Street or using "socialism" to describe one of the worst financial crimes in history. It gives these terms a bad name.

This is theft -- pure and simple. Theft on a gargantuan scale. Theft and complete unaccountability for the corporate elite. AND, for icing on the cake, complete dictatorial powers to the guy now in charge of this heist -- Henry Paulson.

It's truly unimaginable how much the neocon war criminals have gotten away with. Breathtaking! And just when you think you've seen it all -- POW!!! More "shock and awe".

Make no mistake about it, "shock therapy" is the neocon's best friend. Shock, followed by fear, followed by we can get away with anything we want now. And (God help us) if McCain gets in, Americans can count on having the "fat" trimmed to the bone. The fat being what ever national social programs there are left.

If this were any other country -- there would be rioting and a revolution.
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Anonymous said...

By Taipei Main Station I Sat Down and Wept.

Thomas said...

"It's truly unimaginable how much the neocon war criminals have gotten away with."

How is this a crisis of solely "neocon" making? Do you mean that no Democrat has been content to profit or that none of the problems that we are seeing had any root in a Democratic president or under Democratic lawmakers? More recently, the Dems have controlled Congress for a while now. Where was the outcry before last week?

I put up with people who rail against neocons for warmongering, mostly because there is a lot of truth in that railing, but don't act as though what you seem to think as the better half of the country has not been perfectly content to have its hand in the honey jar.

Anonymous said...

"It's truly unimaginable how much the neocon war criminals have gotten away with. Breathtaking! And just when you think you've seen it all -- POW!!! More "shock and awe".

But a hobbled, dependent USA is for Taiwan... in some twisted logic that defies explanation. Right?

Anonymous said...

good for Taiwan that is... Argh!

Anonymous said...

Taiwan: EU Supports Involvement in World Agencies

http://www.unpo.org/content/view/8692/146/

Taiwan`s Unemployment Rate Hit Three-Year High in Aug

http://news.cens.com/cens/html/en/news/news_inner_24716.html

STOP Ma said...

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How is this a crisis of solely "neocon" making?

It isn't. In fact, a lot of Dems supported this reckless deregulation. Obama's chief financial adviser, Rubin, definitely had his hand in the cookie jar. However, the neocons were and are the driving force behind this and they will try to continue to drive this disaster to it's completion.

$700 Billion with no accountability and no intention to directly help the ordinary people affected by this criminal recklessness? AND dictatorial powers to a man handling this huge amount of taxpayer money?!!

That is a neocon's wet dream and it is very close to becoming reality.
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Anonymous said...

"their utter lack of realism, absence of any militant or armed popular foundation, and complete reliance on US to achieve their aims"

It's comforting to know that even as the world changes, some things will always remain the same.

Anonymous said...

Allowing Taiwanese to join groups like the CPPCC is a non-event. In case you didn’t know, right this minute, there are thousands of Taiwanese acting as unofficial “advisors” to various local, regional, and national state connected organizations in mainland China. What is being proposed now just officializes unofficial relationships that have existed for years and will remove the threat of criminal prosecution from legitimate Taiwanese businessmen. What is being proposed now is no different than legalization of Taiwanese investment in mainland China, which was just officializing something that had been going on unofficially for years and resulted in the pardoning of the many Taiwanese businessmen convicted of investing in the mainland.

Arty said...

How is this a crisis of solely "neocon" making? Do you mean that no Democrat has been content to profit or that none of the problems that we are seeing had any root in a Democratic president or under Democratic lawmakers? More recently, the Dems have controlled Congress for a while now. Where was the outcry before last week?

Let's see, Bush administration for eight years plus 6 years of majority in both houses by THE REPUBLICANS. Some one like me already saw the problem last year before Democrats ever gained the power back. I repeat: Republican controlled both executive and legislative branches for last 6 years of 8. Is that clear? Btw, Republicans seriously need to make up their minds on who is in charge of America. When Regan is in charge, you said the collapse of USSR is because of Regan, the president (while democrat is in charge of the houses). When Clinton is in charge with the amazing 90s economy, you said it is all because of the Republican controlled houses. Give me a BREAK!

Btw, I am not against de-regulation. Just don't cry for a bailout when sh!t hits the fan because real capitalism is winner takes all. Yes, some people are still making money even in this market.

Michael Turton said...

What is being proposed now just officializes unofficial relationships that have existed for years and will remove the threat of criminal prosecution from legitimate Taiwanese businessmen. What is being proposed now is no different than legalization of Taiwanese investment in mainland China,

There's a huge difference between legalizing investment, and legalizing formal positions in a sovereign government -- especially one that is trying to annex you.

Michael

TicoExpat said...

*Sigh*

Bleak indeed.

The problem is: if we leave, where do we go?

And the Taiwannese? Where will the y go? To our backs, there is nothing but the sea...

Thomas said...

"I repeat: Republican controlled both executive and legislative branches for last 6 years of 8. Is that clear? "

Arty, many of these problems have their root in decisions that were made before Bush was elected. (For example, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was NOT vetoed by Clinton and it was passed in the House with an overwhelming majority -- can't blame Republicans for that alone). Another example: Some Dem congressmen have supported the issuing of subprime mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a way for the poor to acquire housing. I agree that some Republicans are not free from blame, but I am opposed to those who look for a scapegoat in the current administration for what is actually a cross-party, country-wide, two-decade fiasco.

I do agree with Stop Ma though in that this bail-out makes me uncomfortable.

Readin said...

arty, if you're going to place blame based on simple-minded observations of who is in power, consider this email I received this morming:
-----
George Bush has been in office for 7 1/2 years. The first six the economy was fine. A little over one year ago:

1) Consumer confidence stood at a 2 1/2 year high;

2) Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;

3) the unemployment rate was 4.5%.

4) the DOW JONES hit a record high--14,000 +

5) American's were buying new cars, taking cruises, vacations overseas, living large!...

But American's wanted 'CHANGE'! So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress and yes--we got 'CHANGE' all right.

In the PAST YEAR:

1) Consumer confidence has plummeted ;

2) Gasoline is now over $4 a gallon & climbing!;

3) Unemployment is up to 5.5% (a 10% increase);

4) Americans have seen their home equity drop by $12 TRILLION DOLLARS and prices still dropping;

5) 1% of American homes are in foreclosure.

6) As I write, THE DOW is probing another low~~

$2.5 TRILLION DOLLARS HAS EVAPORATED FROM THEIR STOCKS, BONDS & MUTUAL FUNDS INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS!

YES, IN 2006 AMERICA VOTED FOR CHANGE...AND WE SURE GOT IT! ...

Readin said...

I still think that it is somewhat inaccurate to call this the "nationalization" of Wall Street or using "socialism" to describe one of the worst financial crimes in history. It gives these terms a bad name.

This is theft -- pure and simple.


Actually, "nationalization" and "socialism" already have bad names and deservedly so. And yes, they are usually "theft -- pure and simple".

The problem as I understand it is that we have already greatly nationalized our risk in the financial market. Companies make off with profit, but failures are picked up by taxpayers. This is a failure of government intervention, not a failure of the market. I don't understand why a bail-out is necessary. Why not let the big houses fail and let medium and smaller banks that avoided bad loans gobble them up at fire-sale prices?

I find myself agreeing with the solutions proposed by Democrats, which at first alarmed me. Then I remembered that I don't actually understand this crisis very well and then my agreement with Democrats made sense. Usually solutions proposed by Democrats sound good unless you understand something about the situation, and then you see the unintended consequences.

Arty said...

For example, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was NOT vetoed by Clinton and it was passed in the House with an overwhelming majority -- can't blame Republicans for that alone

Btw, Clinton cannot veto it because it is passed over 2/3 (well, if you are Bush, you will find a way or Chen for that matter). Yes, some house members of Democrats are to blame, too. However, it is not Clinton nor any significant amount of democrats (at that time I think only 10 Democratic senator is needed).

Btw, half of the bad loans were done during 2001 to 2002 during Bush administration when Bush was preaching something called "ownership society" (wait, this should be a democrat's line). I call this regulators sleeping at their desks intentionally (all Republicans at this point); just like our FBI, NSA, and CIA that slept at their desks for 9 months before 911 occurred.

Also, clearly you don't know how Fannie and Freddie SUPPOSE to work. They are not suppose to hold any subprime loans but they did it anyway. Now, the question to ask is who started and when. I will let you guess a little and it is not hard to find out. I give you a year that they started buying subprime though. It is 2007, which is 7 years after Bush took over. And last time I checked, it is still under Bush administration in 2007...

I will be nice and give you guys some tips, remember I just said only HALF of the bad loans were issued in 2001 to 2002. The other half (mostly option Arms which containing 85% of Alt-A) is not even due yet until next year. Of course, you will ask how do you know that these loans are bad or toxic. It is simple. We already know most of them are expect to rollover two year early (2009) due to the borrowers only paid the lowest payment option which will force rollover once it hits 10% of the original loan amount.

Arty said...

arty, if you're going to place blame based on simple-minded observations of who is in power, consider this email I received this morming:

Yea, keep calling me simple-minded (name calling started again; can we discuss this like a civil minded people). So let me ask you, did all the great works that Regan has supposedly did simply because of the Democrat controlled houses? Yale economic professor Schiller and a lot of amateur economists like me have already been yelling since 2004 if not earlier!...the crash should have occurred in 2007 and even today, the Republican non-elected financial official experts are trying to delay it again till next year (not going to happen). In addition, the economy situation today has nothing to do with Democrat controlled house. I dear you to name one law that have passed since Jan. 2007 could possibly to be blamed. Oh, most of the things that you named are known lagging indicators except the stock market, I may have a simple-mind but someone here clearly is out of his/her mind.

Btw, here is an article on WSJ which is one of the most even handed yet conservative paper in the US.

http://tinyurl.com/48duoq

P.S. I would like to say "Magneto was right!" for the like of Thomas, reeb, and readin. Just keep living in your dream, we need some control after all.

Arty said...

Oh one more thing for the great mind readin: Do you know what date our congress adjourn for the year? And care to point out why the date is so important? Most people don't even realize it.

Readin said...

Yea, keep calling me simple-minded...

But I didn't.

So let me ask you, did all the great works that Regan has supposedly did simply because of the Democrat controlled houses?

Exactly my point. You can't place blame or credit merely on who was in office when the effects were felt.

Do you know what date our congress adjourn for the year?

I only know that Congress adjourns far too late to protect my life, liberty, and property.


"No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session"