usa-china

By John Ruberry

Building upon Peter Ingemi’s RH’s spectacular Trump’s China Call is a Deliberate Overreach from yesterday, it’s my turn to add my two yuan into the discusssion.

The media loves to dismiss Donald Trump as a showman–as if there was no showmanship with Barack Obama–but those under 45 first encountered our next president as a real estate developer, albeit a flashy one. Developers are many things, including, yes, deal makers, as well as a negotiators. In regards to that last one, when you are sitting across someone you are negotiating with, or as it usually turns out, haggling with, a strategy that has worked since the Babylonian era is to get the person sitting on the other side of the table from you off of his script and on to yours. One tactic is known as “getting-yourself-inside-their-heads.”

And that’s something that Trump may have accomplished by accepting a telephone call last week from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, which has caused a kerfuffle. Because the United States recognizes communist China as the legitimate government off all of China, including Taiwan, a president hasn’t spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. Of course we still have extensive trade relations with the island nation–oops, breakaway province–and we still sell Taiwan weapons. If they are ever fired in defense it would very likely be against the Chicomms.

Oh, Taiwan and China are major trading partners.

Trying to understand international relations is a descent into madness.

Trump made the re-negotiation of what he calls bad trade deals a central campaign promise. Of course those bad deals with China, if they really are awful, are good ones for the Chinese. If Hillary Clinton won last month’s presidential election China could look forward to at least four more years of crony socialism from the former secretary of state. Since then China has been bracing itself for a return to the bargaining table, preparing for difficult deal making with this New York capitalist.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

But Trump, who was a very good baseball player when he was young, threw a curve ball at the Chinese.

He accepted a phone call.

He got inside their heads.

Trump knows what he’s doing.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG): I’d like to take credit for the piece that John is referring to but that one was written by RH (NG36B) one of the newest additions to our magnificent 7 writers. I’m delighted to have both John & RH on the team

By John Ruberry

1977 was the year that music came out of the concert halls and into the streets; when independent labels sprang out of the woodwork to feed new tastes; when rock music once again became about energy and fun; when the majors’ boardrooms lost control. Suddenly we could do anything. —Liner notes to Streets, a collection of punk singles, 1977.

That snippet comes from Greil Marcus’ “Anarchy in the UK” chapter in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. Such as it was nearly forty years ago in Great Britain with punk rock as it is with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Do you want proof? Just nine days ago the ultimate GOP insider, Karl Rove, hosted a meeting of Republican governors at the ultimate insider’s hotel, the Willard in Washington, where, the New York Times reported, George W. Bush’s Darth Vader, sitting at the end of a boardroom table, said it was not too late to stop Donald Trump.

Well if it isn’t too late now it will very likely be so by Tuesday night when the Super Tuesday results come in.

Republican politics has escaped the boardroom and it’s not just on the streets, it’s at the home computer keyboard, it’s in the employee cafeteria, and at the check-out line at the local Walmart.

Like the music industry “experts” in the late 1970s, the Republican Party has ignored what its bases really wants. And the base opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, ObamaCare, and crony capitalism. Despite promises of eliminating the first two, the Republican Party has at best only offered shadow boxing attacks on them. The last one, crony capitalism, is seemingly esoteric, but it’s a cousin of illegal immigration. I mean, why are we bringing in computer and software developers from Asia on H1-B visas? Are there no computer science programs in the United States? Of course there are. But the US Chamber of Commerce and its members, or as Mark Levin calls the group, the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism, is behind this importation of high-paid workers because it knows big corporations will pay these indentured foreigners a lot less than qualified Americans, who often have to train their cheaper replacements.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

And it’s not just American tech workers suffering. It’s happening at Disney World too.

And the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism is in bed with Republican Party. How many votes on Election Day come out of it? Maybe a few dozen.

While there are millions of Trump supporters.

And suddenly they can do anything because there is Anarchy in the USA.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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SearsBy John Ruberry

“‘Vanity of vanities,” saith the Preacher, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity.'”
Ecclesiastes 1-2.

There are many great American business success stories–and the rise of Sears, Roebuck and Company is one of the more compelling tales.

The last few pages of the book on Sears are blank–and the ending is not going to be a happy one.

Richard Sears, like many entrepreneurs, started small. The Minnesota railroad station agent first sold watches to other rail agents in 1886. After moving his business to Chicago and partnering with watch repairer Alvah Curtis Roebuck in the 1890s, the company created the legendary Sears catalog, where one could buy the 19th century version of everything. Because Richard grew up on a farm, he picked items for the catalog that he knew would appeal to farmers and small-town Americans.

In 1908, Sears created the build-it-yourself house kit–over 70,000 Sears homes were constructed. In 1925, Sears opened department stores and after World War II it successfully rode the wave of suburbanization that crosstown rival Montgomery Ward missed.

Willis Tower, center, onetime HQ of Sears
Willis Tower, center, former HQ of Sears, Roebuck and Company

But rural America, which was once Sear’s base market,  didn’t vanish–and it was in the countryside where Walmart founded in 1962. By 1990, Walmart surpassed Sears as America’s largest retailer, and the onetime behemoth has been struggling ever since. Kmart, another troubled retailer, merged with Sears ten years ago–creating Sears Holdings. The union was similar to a marriage between members of two cash-poor aristocratic families whose chief asset was their names.

Last week Fitch downgraded Sears bond-rating to Double-C, which according to Michael Aneiro of Barron’s, is “essentially the sub-basement of the speculative-grade ratings scale.”

Crain’s Chicago Business’ Joe Cahill speculates that the debt load could put the “closed” sign forever on Sears and its family of stores by 2016.

Three years ago, after threatening to move its headquarters out of Illinois, the state legislature gave $150 million in tax breaks to Sears Holdings so it would stay in the Prairie State.

What a waste of money that was.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Chicago-area resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.