The Political Party Pooper Play Book (P4B)
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Zeihan on Trump and NATO
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Zeihan on Trump and NATO

If you want to cruise, you need to buy some beer and gas.
Transcript

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Show me love - in the form of cash

Before we get to the main event, I have some house keeping and a quick hit.

Throughout this post, below the audio line, you find lots of buttons. Some are links having to do with the episode, maybe some amplification of information. You’ll also find buttons to support the P4B. Financial support is voluntary, therefore deeply gratifying and appreciated. But just as important are the share and subscribe buttons. Subscribers tell us how well we’re doing and get you all the shows as they drop. And of course, shares grow the P4B. So please, do use all the buttons and links aggressive.

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She did what?

Some people were meant to be golfers. I may not be one of them. Every spring hit the driving range and links with renewed enthusiasm. Every fall I hang ’em up felling frustrated.

Equally, some people are great financial experts. Many of them share their knowledge so we might benefit and build a better future for ourselves. And then there’s Charlotte Cowles. She’s a financial columnist for The Cut.

Maybe SHE should take up golf. Because she shouldn’t be advising her cat about a field that requires due diligence.

This is the woman who over a period of 5 hours remained on the phone with all kinds of scammers, ultimately putting $50,000 in a shoe box and handing it to the scam crew.

If phone and online scams were new, I’d just call it bad luck for Cowles. But they are not. This woman obviously has very limited real world experience. She isn’t qualified to discuss critical money matters with other people.

There were a few interesting quotes to come out of the stories this woman is telling herself. First, she points out that OTHER PEOPLE had to tell her that if it wasn’t for the scammers mentioning her son she wouldn’t have gone along with the scam. That’s her words. She had moments of suspicion but that others had to say the threat to her family made her do it. She goes with that now.

She likes to remind people she has a degree from Columbia. It’s just a BA in English. Some degrees don’t endow a person with a healthy skepticism.

Cowles told Market Watch, “For every person who’s called me an idiot in public, there’s been another one emailing me in private to say that a similar thing happened to them.” These kinds of Trumpian exaggerations trouble me in any conversation. Here, she is trying extra hard to deflect criticism and say ANYONE can be duped in this way. Otherwise she must spend 24 hours a day on her computer, because tens of thousands laughed her off of X.

So with those two considerations, something about this story is a bit fishy. Was she up to something that was actually dodgy, making her an easy mark? Or is this whole thing made up or spun wider to provide a market for a book?

We may never know. But for people who know nothing of such things, a few recommendations are in order. These are ways to help you avoid being scammed.

  1. Always answer a text or phone call with a sense of skepticism. Always assume the person on the other end is playing you.

  2. Never conduct a transaction that can’t be verified by other means. Does that guy on the other end really have a brand new Mac Book for you for for only $150? But you MUST take it NOW! He might, but we all doubt that, right? And it’s not worth being cleaned out to get that great buy. Let it go.

  3. The police, the FBI and certainly NOT the CIA are going to call you and say you’ve been the victim of ID theft. Your credit card company will do so a lot sooner. Police are not going to warn you on the phone that they are going to raid your house unless your name is Biden. They are NOT going to tell you to give them cash. They just aren’t.

  4. Keep a few weeks worth of cash in a safe place. If you think you might be a victim of credit card or ID theft, freeze your accounts. Review transactions until you and the bank, or CC company are satisfied.

  5. Don’t open emails from untrusted sources. And if you do open an email from a stranger DON’T open any files on it. That hot Thai girl is really NOT in love with you. It makes me sick that “professionals” who have been told repeatedly NOT to do these things do it every goddamn day!

  6. Tell ALL charity phone contacts “send me the paperwork”. They’ll object. And they can kiss your ass. And if they don’t actually send paperwork, they’re not real. If they do, verify them with a trusted source anyway.

  7. If you get a call that might be a scam, report it. It rarely results in arrests, but not ALL scammers are Einsteins. You might get lucky and get the miserable pieces of shit arrested. There is a pretty sophisticated group in India doing time right now. Doing time in India doesn’t sound attractive to me.

  8. Do your updates. Change your PWs frequently. Get as much data and communication protection as you can afford.

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The Main Event

Dinging Peter: It’s never pleasant.

As usual, when straying into electoral politics, Peter Zeihan betrayed his objective, studied self and gave us a peak at his pink panties. His take on the Trump vs NATO dust up misses the point of Trump’s plainly spoken assertions. Not because Peter lacks an eye for detail, but because when it comes to party politics, he’s as one-sided about his sources as anyone who is busy and eventually slouches to the easy stream of info.

Echoing the talking points of MSNBC, CNN, WAPO, etc., Zeihan speaks of Trump’s statements as a threat to “move away from the [European} continent”, which of course it is not. Trump’s remarks now, as they were in 2015-17, are a demand for PAYMENT. No more, no less.

Zeihan also characterizes what he calls any future withdrawal of support for ANY foriegn entities, in this case Europe, as a nationalist/populist issue where people like Trump are winning the argument for isolationism.

Zeihan disappoints the people who try to keep personalities out of the argument when he skews partisan. And that’s a shame. He has a strong, usually well-deserved following for his objective, numerical analysis of important trends. He taints that authority with remarks like his 20 February quick hit.

Let’s look as the two characterizations here.

The Money Thing.

Trump wants to move away from NATO? This simply isn’t true, and nothing he said this week supports that. When speaking of all foreign affairs, Trump LOVES the projection of power. And in all things, the Donald doesn’t “do” real nuance.

Part of the projection of power thing is seeing to it that the US is not treated as the rich, idiot friend with the nice car. Whether we’re talking about the UN, trade policy, NATO - for decades now, the US has been the target of tarrifs and shutouts and expected to keep our borders wide open for trade. Any talk of protectionism HERE is always met with cries of upsetting the balance of trade and just being mean.

The UN has been our obnoxious party guest since 1960. It got worse when we quite stupidly allowed China to sit on the Security Council. We pay the lion’s share to support an organization the spews a steady flood of insult toward us. Meanwhile, weak asses like Joe Biden encourage suborganizations like UNESCO to play mischief and censor speech in our country! For details on that insult, run entirely under the auspices of the WEF, hit this button.

You will say what you are told to say.

Basically, we pay most of the UN’s costs so Americans can be fucked with by foreign actors and their drones inside our own governent.

When it comes to alliances, well it’s pretty much the same. It’s Friday night, all your buddies want to get drunk and cruise the strip. They use your car, rarely buy gas and you have to supply the beer.

The entirety of Trump’s attitude toward NATO has NOTHING to do with abandoning the actual organization. He likes to cruise the strip as much as anyone. He likes the popularity that comes with have a fine wheel and some money in his pocket. But he is tired, as are we of being swindled EVERY Friday. He wants ALL the NATO countries to pay their freight or get out of the car.

Now, how realistic is the threat? MMMM, not very. Germany, for example, is notorious for shortchanging the alliance. Trump is saying, not implying, if Russia were to leapfrog the remainder of Ukraine AND Poland and attack Germany, they better be paid up. But if Poland were attacked, we’ll be there. Since the leapfrog idea isn’t going to happen, NATO is safe from big mean Orange Man’s threats. So in reality, Germany and the other schlubs that ride without enough money are being shamed into ponying up a few more bucks.

It worked in Trump’s first term. Revenues among partner nations were moving up. Then old Joe showed up and member nations realized they could go back to cruising on Friday night and suckering the driver, pretending to be his friend.

It’s a question of respect and a legitimate one. They expect us to come and die for them. We are to endure criticism if we waiver for any reason. Then they don’t shoulder the agreed financial support for the endeavor? That we’ve accepted this for so long is a testament to how much of a shit OUR government really gives about us, and our young people.

So Trump, whether you like him or hate him, is trying to change that lopsided, disrespectful practice. Talk about projecting power.

The Nationalism Thing

While it is accurate to call the notion of leaving NATO, for on example, as a nationalist or populist notion, it isn’t new, and it isn’t party driven as a policy. Peter Zeihan, in his own words has pointed out that the Unidet States, through several adminsitrations in both parties has been slowly creeping away from the machine that makes ALL of our trade and alliances possible.

Since Bretton Woods, our ships have plied every ocean and almost all seas, even the Black Sea sometimes, to protect international trade - everybody’s trade. Talk about being the kid with the cool car.

Our reward for this has been no better than the lack of respect we get from some NATO countries. No better than the skinny kid in the back seat who couldn’t beat up a flower, who wants to get drunk on our beer and drag us into fist fights with other punks at the Circle K.

It’s hard to justify to congress (the issue hasn’d really trickled down to voters) to spend money on a huge Navy, including crew, fuel, food and paying for ports of call, in that environment. It hasn’t been a Right versus Left thing. It’s been a fed up versus a patient pragmatic thing. And the fed up people have been winning.

Zeihan is right, if we abandon NATO, Europe will cease to exist as we know it today. But according to Zeihan’s own writings, the Europe we know today is going away pretty fast anyway. So, what are we defending?

Defining our national interests vis a vis Europe is going to become more and more difficult anyway. NATO is good. NATO is important. The real trick will be to know when it will be no longer good or important.

To say that Trump has somehow captured this disengagement as a NEW political tool is overly simplistic. To imply the Right is the sole driver of it is disingenuous. The Right, when it does talk about “taking care of our borders first” for example, they are at least being forthright with individual nationalistic ISSUES. That does not a rule make. And the Left has been just as quick to back away from our strategic interests, but have done so quietly. Their lust is for ever inceasing domestic power. They care little for international security. They do it all with a phony Peace, Love, Bobby Sherman kind of propaganda.

But to be certain, both parties have been pulling back from the world.

Calm Down

And NONE of that is addressed in Trump’s comments. His “threat” is addressed to the weak asses in the back seat, not paying for gas and drinking way more beer than they paid for. He’s not going to push them from a moving vehicle. But he may not let some of them ride next week.

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