USA-China Trade Deals, Technology, and Decoupling

On December 13th, 2019, President Trump and China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen confirmed an incoming “phase one” trade deal. Full details weren’t immediately available. The timing of the announcement—after months of negotiations—is interesting. A few days prior, the Financial Times reported “Beijing has ordered all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three years, in a potential blow to the likes of HP, Dell and Microsoft.” Recent articles didn’t mention if this was addressed in today’s deal. If it wasn’t, that’s not a surprise.

It also wouldn’t be shocking if either party backed out of the newest trade agreement, since they’ve done that before. Robert Lighthizer even said it’s “wise to be skeptical of whether China would deliver on certain agreements.” If the deal goes through, that might be a big win for Trump. Especially since it comes on the heels of his new USMCA agreement. From PBS: “On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Democrats had reached a compromise with the Trump administration…. Mexico ratified the deal back in June, but the revised agreement will now head back to the country’s legislature for votes. Canada is expected to ratify the deal in parallel with the U.S., but that process may extend into the new year due to American politics.”

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Presidential Campaign 2020: Democratic Candidates (Part 2)

I wrote my first post in April 2019. Now that we’re in December, about to enter 2020, let’s see where things stand. Currently, 15 people are vying for the position of Democratic Candidate.

The Candidates

Alphabetical order by last name, then their primary political experience:

Michael Bennet (Senator)
Joe Biden (White House)
Michael Bloomberg (Mayor)
Cory Booker (Senator)
Pete Buttigieg (Mayor)
Julián Castro (White House)
John Delaney (Representative)
Tulsi Gabbard (Representative)
Amy Klobuchar (Senator)
Deval Patrick (Governor)
Bernie Sanders (Senator)
Tom Steyer (No political experience)
Elizabeth Warren (Senator)
Marianne Williamson (No political experience)
Andrew Yang (No political experience)

Poll Data

RealClearPolitics poll average for 11/21-12/1, top 10:

  1. Biden 27%
  2. Sanders 16%
  3. Warren 14%
  4. Buttigieg 11.4%
  5. Bloomberg 4%
  6. Yang 2.8%
  7. Klobuchar 2.4%
  8. Booker 1.8%
  9. Steyer 1.6%
  10. Castro 1.4%

Everyone else is polling at 1% or less.
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Presidential Campaign 2020: Democratic Candidates

There are a lot of people running on the Democrat side, so I decided to make a list and put my initial thoughts on how likely I think they are to become president. I’d make a post for the Republican side as well, but Trump is the only real contender and he doesn’t warrant an entire post. Everyone has a general idea of what he’ll say and do as he campaigns for re-election, and the primary threat to that is the economy according to investors, analysts, and plenty of voters. There is one person running against Trump in the primaries so far, Former Governor Bill Weld, and no one expects him to have a real chance. Also, I’m a registered Democrat, so I’ll have to figure out which person to vote for.

The big test for Democratic candidates will be initial fundraising and support. It’s a crowded field and garnering enough publicity to stay in the top 10 is essential, which means the first step is qualifying for June’s debate. Most of them actually have. The DNC will be limiting the stage to 20 people just in case that many qualify, they’ve increased the thresholds for the third debate. (Which could eliminate half the current candidates.)

The Candidates

Alphabetical order by last name, then their primary political experience:

Michael Bennet (Senator)
Joe Biden (White House)
Cory Booker (Senator)
Steve Bullock (Governor)
Pete Buttigieg (Mayor)
Julián Castro (White House)
Bill de Blasio (Mayor)
John Delaney (Representative)
Tulsi Gabbard (Representative)
Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator)
Mike Gravel (Senator)
Kamala Harris (Senator)
John Hickenlooper (Governor)
Jay Inslee (Governor)
Amy Klobuchar (Senator)
Wayne Messam (Mayor)
Seth Moulton (Representative)
Beto O’Rourke (Representative)
Tim Ryan (Representative)
Bernie Sanders (Senator)
Tom Steyer (No political experience)
Eric Swalwell (Representative)
Elizabeth Warren (Senator)
Marianne Williamson (No political experience)
Andrew Yang (No political experience)

Poll Data


RealClearPolitics poll average for 3/21-4/21, top 10:

  1. Biden 29.2% 
  2. Sanders 22.2% 
  3. Harris 8.2% 
  4. O’Rourke 7.4% 
  5. Buttigieg 6.8% 
  6. Warren 6% 
  7. Booker 3.2% 
  8. Klobuchar 1.6% 
  9. Yang 1.2% 
  10. Castro 1.2% 

RealClearPolitics poll average for 7/27-8/5, top 10:

  1. Biden 32% 
  2. Sanders 17.2% 
  3. Warren 15%
  4. Harris 9.3% 
  5. Buttigieg 5.3%
  6. O’Rourke 3% 
  7. Booker 1.8% 
  8. Yang 1.3% 
  9. Castro 1.2%
  10. Gabbard 0.8% 

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The Roots of Trump’s Immigration Ban

(Disclaimer: I denounce a pure immigration ban. Trump’s executive order is flawed, and it is rightfully being criticized. This post is for informational purposes only.)

Some people asked why Trump’s recent “Muslim ban” only includes certain countries. A fair question. Others, like David Frum at The Atlantic, pointed out how if this is meant to deter radial Islamic terrorism, then it’s an ineffective ban. Why did the Trump administration choose these 7 countries?

The countries in question, for reference: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

If you’ve paid really close attention to the news over the past couple of years, and have a good memory, you’ll recognize that those countries have been grouped together before. The Obama administration singled them out for travel restrictions.

So if you’re asking why Trump picked those 7 countries for his ban: Trump didn’t pick them. All Trump did was take an already-existing list and expand on the restrictions. If the recent immigration ban ends up as a court case, the Trump administration will try to cite the previous administration’s actions as precedent.

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The USA Isn’t Really One Country (And Some Post-Election Thoughts)

[image of an American flag]

Of course the USA is one country from a technical perspective. Yet from a geographic-based ideological perspective, it’s hard to come to that same conclusion.

The results of the 2016 presidential election have only reinforced regional differences. It’s not so much a liberal-conservative divide but an urban-rural one. Judging from the attitudes of Washington insiders, things aren’t a simple Democrat-Republican divide. Prominent politicians of both parties often have similar ideals and goals.

What’s troubling is the lack of communication and understanding between urban and rural voters. It’s led to continuous anger at The Other Side.

Many liberals, confined to their “coastal citadels,” don’t venture outside of their bubbles. The same is true of many conservatives. For example, you won’t see many farmers or coal miners on a liberal arts college campus. What does an upper middle class Millennial college student from Los Angeles have in common with a 55-year-old lumberjack from West Virginia who saw a neighbor die of a heroin overdose last week? Not much, and neither group seems interested in talking to the other. The city-dwellers call the rural people “backwards rednecks.” The countryside-dwellers call the urban people “entitled smug idiots.” If you don’t interact with certain groups, they can become stereotypes – instead of individuals with unique hopes and fears.

It might seem strange that each area (neighborhood, county, state, etc.) has its own culture, but therein lies the rub: many people don’t realize the sheer diversity of the United States. Talk to people in 10 different states; they’ll give different answers about their concerns. (Even if this doesn’t seem strange to you, it’s not something which often comes to mind.)

Ideologically, the United States of America isn’t really one country. This idea is implied in the name: The United States. It’s a conglomerate of distinct states which have united under a central federal government.

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Should We Do Away With The Electoral College?

In the wake of 2016’s U.S. presidential election, some people are claiming that the Electoral College is obsolete and unfair. There are a couple of petitions circulating, along with miscellaneous talk on social media, about doing away with the Electoral College. Some people now believe that only the popular vote should matter.

Most don’t know what the Electoral College even is, or why it might be important. Many complaints are reactionary in nature. Not understanding how elections work has left a large number of people confused, scared, and/or angry. I don’t blame them, simply because of the education system here in the United States. A lot of facts aren’t being taught. For example: Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. The United States also isn’t a pure democracy. It’s categorized as a democratic republic, federal republic, or constitutional republic with a representative democracy.

Here’s a 5-minute explainer on the Electoral College. In short, Americans vote for a vote; the system has good and bad aspects, but viable alternatives haven’t been seriously discussed on a national level. A short video from Praeger University says the Electoral College accomplishes three major things: it protects against mob rule, encourages coalition-building, and helps protect against voter fraud.

The most obvious folly to only electing the President by popular vote is this: candidates would just campaign where the most people are. A large portion of the United States would be ignored, forgotten, and without a voice. The most sparsely-populated areas wouldn’t matter at all to politicians. (Maybe local ones.)

A 2013 article from Business Insider detailed how “half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.” Take a look at their map:

[map of USA 50 percent]

Those shaded-in-purple counties are where half of the United States lives. The urban-rural divide will likely increase over time, too. The Electoral College ensures that every state has a say in who gets to be President. It wouldn’t be fair if only 3 states controlled who governs all 50 states. If you’re campaigning for election, you should bring together people from all walks of life – not just metropolitan areas. Removing the electoral college would give major cities more power while taking away power from people who don’t live in cities.

One of the biggest problems with the American voting system is Americans themselves. In the past 100 years (1916-2016) the voter turnout never went above 64 percent.

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Erdogan’s Purge

Turkish Flag

After the attempted coup in Turkey, beginning late on July 15th, president Recep Erdogan has begun purging the system. Over 50,000 people have been fired, suspended, or detained. While the purge is guaranteed to continue due to Erdogan’s religious and political motivations, it’s not clear when he’ll stop. The BBC doesn’t believe there will be martial law, curfews, or some other potential actions. Political scientist Soner Cagaptay writes that Turkey “will be less free and less democratic” following the coup attempt. He, along with others, felt a coup was coming. Turkey has a history of coup attempts, some successful.

A rough running list of Turkish institutional casualties for 2016:

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2016’s Final Super Tuesday

United States of America

The tl;dr

Sanders wins 2 states for 283 delegates (total of 1804). Clinton wins 4 states for 372 delegates (total of 2184).

Trump wins all 5 states for 297 delegates. He now has 1536 of the 1237 delegates needed to become the Republican nominee.

This post is current as of 8 June 2016.

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The US Political Race Is Almost Over

Motorcycle Race


Trump running unopposed. Clinton and Sanders still fighting for their nomination.

What happened?

This week, Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. (May 3rd) The very next day, John Kasich suspended his campaign in a last-minute decision. (May 4th) Both were disappointed by the results coming out of Indiana’s primary. Neither had any mathematical chance of securing enough delegates to become the Republican nominee.

This leaves Donald Trump as the last man standing on the Republican side. Originally given a 1% chance at securing the nomination, he somehow defeated 16 other Republicans and now has a 99% chance of being the nominee. After all, he’s running unopposed. Who’s going to beat him?

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both a ways off from securing the Democrat nomination.

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