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The Game of Thrones Guide to the 2012 Transition, Part 2

The HBO series Game of Thrones returns for a second season this month.  The show, which could be described as either “Soft Core Porn Lord of the Rings,” or “Harry Potter for  Middle-Aged White Dudes,” is set in a fantasy realm loosely modeled after medieval Europe with a plot that is equally loosely based on the history of the War of the Roses.

Given that the entire series revolves around a series of bloody power struggles in which amoral individuals quickly kill off the few characters with integrity before then turning on each other in a highly stylized circle jerk of naked ambition, I thought the show would make a useful guide to 2012 and the current leadership transition in China, a transition which is not going quite as smoothly as the Party leadership perhaps hoped it would.

So, with that…the Game of Thrones Guide to the 2012 Transition, Part 2.  Part 1 can be found here.

(Yes. There are all kinds of spoilers but I figure if you’ve made it this far then you’ve already seen the show.)
What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.

Writing in the Analects blog yesterday, Beijing correspondent James Miles argued that even though Bo Xilai might be down, he was far from out and that the erstwhile Chongqing Party Secretary remains popular, even going so far as to compare Bo to Hu Yaobang.   Maybe. But there’s some evidence that Bo is not as popular with his base as many believe/fear.   Also, Bo Xilai is not Hu Yaobang just as Justin Bieber is not, say, Sam Cooke.  But the idea that the reanimated political corpse of Bo someday rising again to cause problems for the Party is not outside the realm of possibility.  The thing about preventing an infestation of the undead, as I now know from watching Game of Thrones, is that eliminating your enemies is not enough, you must also burn their corpses to ash.  Given that the CCP has some experience on this front, I would not want to bet on leniency when and if Bo ever goes to ‘trial.’

 

Eddard Stark: The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

Bo’s initial mistake: entrusting his Chongqing crackdown to an underling.  On one hand you can’t blame the guy for not wanting to personally get his hands bloody, but whenever you put that kind of power in the hands of a subordinate you invariably face the possibility of the whole plan blowing up in your face.  Option A is your henchman is incompetent. Option B is that he is too good at his job and starts gunning for yours.  Either way you’re probably going to have to eventually kill the bastard.  This is why Ned Stark wanted no part of being Robert’s “Hand.” Sour cream has a longer shelf-life than henchmen and “Closest Comrades at Arms” in these situations.

 

Tyrion Lannister: I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things.

One of the weirder stories floating around last week involved a Ferrari which crashed on Sunday morning.  Anybody who has seen these douchebags racing around Sanlitun in the small hours after the clubs close knew it was only a matter of time, but what made this particular Ferrari the subject of so much online speculation was the cone of silence that descended over the circumstances of the crash and the driver.  The most persistent whispers – albeit ones fueled in part by overseas websites belonging to a certain banned cult – is that the car was driven by the illegitimate son of Jia Qinglin.  Jia’s been on television a lot these days and last night was shown practically removing the arm of a visiting KMT functionary in an overly enthusiastic man-hug, so either the rumors are untrue or Jia is slowly coming unhinged while being filmed for the nightly news broadcast.  Either way of course, the fact that the rumors spread so rapidly in absence of proof, a common theme this past week, is suggestive of how primed people are to believe these stories.    Schadenfreude is an ugly thing,  but people can see the children of China’s 1% living large in the capital and the growing sense of resentment is at least…understandable.

 

Robin Arryn: Mom make the little man fly now?

Tyrion Lannister: Not this little man, this little man is going home.

Zhou Yongkang was on the nightly news broadcast for Friday looking happy and relaxed.  Either the rumors of his imminent demise are untrue (most likely), he’s a great actor (less likely), or he hasn’t received the email yet (not impossible).  In any case, looks like the Zhou deathwatch will have to continue into the coming week.  I’d say with each passing day it’s looking more likely that Zhou and Hu, if the stories of their tiff had any validity in the first place, have since kissed and made up.

 

Tywin Lannister: [speaking to Jaime] You’re blessed with abilities that few men possess. You’re blessed to belong to the most powerful family in the Kingdoms, and you’re still blessed with youth. And what have you done with these blessings? You’ve served as a glorified bodyguard for two kings, one a madman, the other a drunk. The future of our family will be determined in these next few months. We could establish a dynasty that will last a thousand years…or we could collapse into nothing, as the Targaryens did. I need you to become the man you were always meant to be. Not next year, not tomorrow…now.

Does anybody else imagine a scene with Hu Jintao calling Xi Jinping into his study at 2:00 in the morning and giving him a version of this speech?  There’s no doubt Xi and Li have their work cut out for them.  Look, anybody who has ever played team sports can tell you that winning solves a lot of problems in the locker room.  Not to mix analogies too much, but check out at the Red Sox over the last decade.  When they were winning championships and making the playoffs every year nobody seemed to care that players were taking shots of whiskey before big games and generally behaving like overgrown frat boys.  But when the team tanked the last two months of the 2011 season all the shit which had been going for years suddenly became a problem.  Players started turning on each other.  The owners turned on the manager and the whole organization became a toxic nest of lies and recriminations ultimately resulting in ownership cleaning house.

What does this have to do with Game of Thrones, never mind Chinese politics?

I’m neither a China ‘bear’ or a China ‘bull,’ I still think it can go either way, but this new administration is going to be tested in ways that neither Hu Jintao or Jiang Zemin ever were.  First of all, eventually the economy is going to slow down.  Hard. Soft. Whatever. How that landing is managed is going to be absolutely critical to the Party’s ability to govern.  That doesn’t mean managing the last few years has been easy, but the benefits of economic development have benefited enough people, and enough of the right people, that the Party receives — and possibly deserves — the benefit of the doubt for a lot of unresolved issues.  The test, and it’s likely to come within the next ten years, is whether the Party can also maintain harmony and social stability when that sense of continued prosperity fades.  This is not the same as saying if the economy declines then the Party automatically goes, which is obviously a facile argument that ignores the adaptability of the Party in dealing with changing circumstances, but Xi Jinping and the incoming leadership will be forced to make some hard choices.  Xi Jinping seems like a very able guy, tough and willing to listen to criticism and advice from those around him, but it may not come down just to managerial competence but rather the ability to demonstrate political courage under tough circumstances.

 

Eddard Stark: Who do you serve?

Varys: I serve the realm. Someone must.

It’s not easy to be the court eunuch.  Not the Meng Jianzhu lacks physical balls, but once Zhou Yongkang finally is put to pasture/dumped in a river Meng will be last man standing from the Jiang Zemin patronage network.  He’s likely to be in the Nine, but you have to think that every time Old Panda Eyes gets heartburn Meng starts to update his resume.  Even as odd man out though, anyone holding the public security brief must resist the powerful temptation to engage in all kinds of shenanigans, as we’ve since learned from the Chongqing experience this past month.  Not sure if Meng is that kind of guy, but I wouldn’t count on Chinese society getting any less rambunctious in the next decade and if anything Meng is going to have his hands full enough putting out fires without playing palace intrigue.

 

Tyrion: What do you want from me, Bronn? Gold? Women? Golden women? Stick with me and you’ll have them all.

Bronn: Alright, but don’t expect me to call upon your lordship whenever you take a shit. I’m not your toady, and I’m not your friend.

Tyrion: Where I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder. And if the day ever comes where you’re tempted to sell me out, remember this: Whatever the price, I’ll beat it. I like living.

Another great exchange in the ongoing odd-couple Tyrion/Bronn bromance.  It’s nice they’ve worked out the basic parameters of their relationship in such a clear manner.  I wish the same could be said for the PLA and the CCP leadership.

Richard McGregor argues in his book The Party, that one of Hu Jintao’s early challenges as leader was developing a working relationship with the military.  Lacking real military experience and without close ties with the PLA brass, Hu faced a problem not dissimilar to that of Bill Clinton in his first term trying to earn the respect of his commanders despite never having served.  Xi Jinping benefits to some extent from being his father’s son, but that might only go so far and there are indications that the military is growing increasingly fractious and restless and prone to act in its own (especially fiduciary) interests when necessary.  Statements in the Chinese press by both civilian and military leaders reaffirming Party control over the PLA have become so frequent over the past few months that the cumulative effect is hardly reassuring.  For now, the Party continues to feed the beast by increasing defense spending.  Should Hu Jintao, as expected, hold on to his role as head of the Party’s Central Military Commission for a couple more years this might ease the transition but it’s certainly a situation that bears watching.

 

Tyrion Lannister: Ferocious? Last night a Moon Brother stabbed a Stone Crow over a sausage. Three Stone Crows seized the Moon Brother and opened his throat. Bronn managed to keep Shagga from chopping off the dead man’s cock, which was fortunate, but even still Ulf is demanding blood money, which Shagga and Gunter refuse to pay.

Tywin Lannister: When soldiers lack discipline, the fault lies with their commander.

Pity those central government organs responsible for doing anything that requires the cooperation of local officials.  Tensions between the center and the local in Chinese politics date back to when Confucius was still wearing split-bottom pants, but there are signs that recently the problem has grown particularly acute as the central government tries to get a handle on local government finances.  It won’t be easy.  The Yongzheng Emperor once became so exasperated with the extent of graft by local officials that he gave everybody a huge raise and told them to steal less.  I’ll let you guess how well that worked out.  The Party right now is trying to get several thousand of its most venal and corrupt administrators  to stop lining their own pockets because…well, because it’s not nice to steal things.   Li Yuanchao might be the guy who steps in and takes over from He Guoqiang as chief hatchet man for the Party/Hu Jintao, but like the public security brief this is an area where things are only going to get more complex during the next administration and whoever gets the job could learn a thing or two from Tyrion on barbarian management.

 

Eddard: “What you suggest is treason.”
Littlefinger: “Only if we lose.”

Such a great scene. Ned asks Tommy Carcetti to arrange for the palace guard to back his play against the new boy king and his wicked mother/aunt.  You just know it’s going to end badly and as Omar might say, “If you come at the king, you best not miss.”

All this week rumors of palace intrigue and a possible coup have been floating around most of them involving a possible split among the Standing Nine and the ouster of Zhou Yongkang.[1]  Frankly, I don’t see it happening, but once again the fact that so many people are ready to believe is suggestive in itself.  There are splits in the leadership for sure but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to take the fight out into the street.  That said, it’s worth mentioning the Party doesn’t make it any easier on itself by keeping the public in the grey about what the hell is going on with the government.

 

“Is this meant to be your shield, my lord? A piece of paper?”

The climactic throne room scene were Ned Stark, loyalist to the old regime, confronts King Joffrey and his mother.  All Ned had to do was kneel, swear fealty, act contrite and then all would be forgiven.  How hard is that shit? But no, some people learn these things the hard way and Ned instead thought it a better idea to denounce the king as a bastard princeling. Nice.  Of course he was counting on the palace guard siding with him and when that failed to happen…well Ned was proper and truly fucked.

It seems that Bo Xilai had a similar opportunity at his annual NPC press conference.  He could have been contrite, humble, and probably lived to fight another day.  Instead, he denounced his enemies and counted on the support of his buddy Hu Jintao…who promptly whipped a knife out.

Bo’s performance at the press conference pissed off so many people that within 72-hours he was done.  He wasn’t likely to stick around long anyway, but the non-apology apology he used to ‘save himself’ would have made Mike Daisey blush.  It remains to be seen if, unlike Ned, Bo will be allowed to keep his head.

Winter is coming…



[1] One of the funnier outcomes of the coup rumors has to be the code language being used to discuss the rumors without running afoul of the Internet censors.

The Game of Thrones Guide to the 2012 Transition, Part 1

The HBO series Game of Thrones returns for a second season this month.  The show, which could be described as either “Soft Core Porn Lord of the Rings,” or “Harry Potter for  Middle-Aged White Dudes,” is set in a fantasy realm loosely modeled after medieval Europe with a plot that is equally loosely based on the history of the War of the Roses.

Given that the entire series revolves around a series of bloody power struggles in which amoral individuals quickly kill off the few characters with integrity before then turning on each other in a highly stylized circle jerk of naked ambition, I thought the show would make a useful guide to 2012 and the current leadership transition in China, a transition which is not going quite as smoothly as the Party leadership perhaps hoped it would.

So, with that…the Game of Thrones Guide to the 2012 Transition, Part 1.  Part 2 can be found here.

(Yes. There are all kinds of spoilers but I figure if you’ve made it this far then you’ve already seen the show.)

 

Tyrion: Where do I begin, my lords and ladies? I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting. I have lied and cheated, gambled and whored. I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing others to do violence for me. You want specifics, I suppose. When I was seven, I saw a servant girl bathing in the river. I stole her robe and she was forced to return to the castle naked and in tears. I closed my eyes, but I could still see her tits bouncing. When I was 10, I stuffed my uncle’s boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. Poor boy was flogged, and I escaped justice. When I was 12 I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake, I skinned my sausage. I made the bald men cry into the turtle stew, which I believe my sister ate. At least I hope she did. I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel….

My initial list of ‘favorite Game of Thrones Quotes’ turned out to be 90% Tyrion, which shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who has seen the show.  Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is basically the series’ Omar. He gets all the best lines and doesn’t waste any of them. This is, by far, my favorite Tyrion moment from Season One.  Facing probable defenestration unless he confesses to a crime he actually didn’t commit, he instead breaks into a veritable sonata of humble brag vulgarity.

The Chinese Internet sensation for this particular nanosecond is a series of pictures supposedly snapped by a Chinese gangster doing…well, gangster things.  Counting money. Driving his car. Stepping on a dude’s neck.  There’s a heavy whiff of the South China Tiger about the photos, but these days people here are so conditioned to believe any crazy ass rumor that involves gangsters or officials (and the line is often thin in many local jurisdictions) mainly because those rumors that turn out to be true usually end up involving unbelievably jackshit stupid and craven examples of human behavior.  After awhile you get used to just being witness to all kinds of corruption, whether the egregious deeds of high officials or the local hot pot restaurant that recycles gutter oil.[5]

Nevertheless, in nine decades of self-criticisms and forced confessions it’s doubtful that the CCP ever came across anyone so archly proud of their depravity as Tyrion, but there’s also little doubt that between his stature, his hobbies, and his gift for amoral politics, the little man would have made a sterling cadre.

 

Robb: If we do it your way kingslayer, you’d win. We’re not doing it your way.

Give Wang Yang some love. Last December with Wukan doing its best impression of South Carolina circa 1860, the Central Government getting increasingly agitated with Wang running his own offense in the province, and Bo Xilai telling every cadre and peasant who would had a minute to listen about how Bo “cleaned up” Chongqing after the mess left by the last guy (BTW: That would be Wang), the “Guangdong Model” seemed like a risky political foundation for a rise to power.  Well, look who rolled in shit and came out smelling like lavender bath bubbles…Ladies and Gentlefolk, Wang Yang.

So after finishing the first season of the show I started reading the novel because, you know, I have so much time on my hands and nothing else to do (that sound you hear is me repeatedly attaching a copy of the UC academic handbook to my thumbs with an industrial stapler) but one major change had to do with the ages of the characters.  Robb Stark in the book is like 15-years old.  Christ, when I was that age I wore my hair in a hockey mullet and I’m pretty sure I only remembered to zip up my fly about 54% of the time…there is no way 15-year old me could have led my father’s banners into battle. [1] I don’t know if George R.R. Martin is going for a whole “People didn’t live as long back then” theme (book Ned Stark is an old man at 35) but I’m glad they changed it for the show.  I’m guessing HBO might have also faced some legal issues had they chosen to honor the author’s creative vision by faithfully recreating the Dothraki wedding night scene in which Dragon Barbie is stripped naked and deflowered by a barbarian…at the age of 12. Those of my friends who have read the whole series  have said one of the criticisms of the books is that Martin seems to have some kind of weird problem with women.  Hmmm…12-year old princess forced to consummate her marriage to a 30-year old warlord who just purchased her from her own brother…Even Kublai on a bad China day would be like, “Dude, that’s messed up.”

 

Joffrey: Tell me, which do you favor, your fingers or your tongue?

Where does it say the “evil kid” in a British fantasy series needs to be a bottle blond?  I get it that this is an important plot point for this particular series but the kid who plays Joffrey is just a little too much from central casting like he’s constantly channeling Draco Malfoy’s inbred cousin.

The parallels here are too much low hanging fruit, except to say that Inbred Draco would totally have supported China’s new detention regulations.  Anyone else see a parallel PSB Deputy Minister Joffrey making Ai Weiwei retype his entire opus of tweets while ordering the guards to chop a finger for each typo?

The message  from the Party is now quite clear (as if it were ever in doubt). Type it. Say it. Whatever. If you piss us off sufficiently, we now have all the legal authority we need to make your ass disappear.  Although we promise that if you die in custody we won’t harvest your organs so…progress!

 

Tyrion: And here we have Bronn, son of…

Bronn: You wouldn’t know him.

I like Bronn which means I’m almost positive he will die in season 2.  Having come to this show uninitiated, I have since learned that any sympathetic or popular character will eventually have their head lopped off or their entrails torn out which I guess saves HBO some money on long-term deals with its actors.

Bronn is the closest thing the show has to representing the 99%.  In China we call that group “The people who DON’T race their Ferrari around Worker’s Stadium at three in the morning.”  Hey, not everybody’s dad is Bo Xilai or even a Li Gang and yet they still have to make their way in the world.  That’s Bronn. Put him on the payroll and watch him work.  Fight a duel to the death for money. Sure. Play wingman for a dwarf. No problem. He’s just happy to have a job and watch those uppity bastards kill each other, knowing it’s not going to affect him…until Season 2.[3]

 

Viserys: No! You cannot touch me. I am the dragon! I want my crown!

Every great TV series has that one moment in the first season where we, the viewers, have to stop and go…Holy shit, what the fuck just happened? Tony Soprano grabbing the pillow to smother Livia. Bodie and Poot capping Wallace. Don Draper’s “Carousel” speech.

For the first five episodes of Game of Thrones we were continually subjected to creepy Aryan prince as he fondled his sister, insulted a horde, gave himself a nickname, slapped around a whore, and generally behaved like the lost Hanson brother on an episode of Celebrity Rehab.   I like my irony and violent imagery as much as the next guy, but asking for a crown and then having a 6’5 barbarian give you a molten gold hot comb instead? That’s the kind of moral symmetry that would have had Sima Qian waving his ball sack in the air like a party favor from a Chinese wedding banquet.

The irony is delicious of course because it was Drogo’s response to the 153rd time Viserys had whined about how he let the barbarian king marry Viserys’ sister, Dragon Barbie, in exchange for Drogo using his horde to reclaim lost territory.  Leaving aside the fact that this USUALLY does not go as planned (Cut to shot of Wu Sangui and the Song Emperor Huizong nodding sadly) you just don’t nag barbarians with your delusions of power. You certainly don’t make a spectacle of yourself at one of their parties.  And if you do, you damn well better be sure that your allies are secure.

Which brings me of course to Bo Xilai.

Wang Lijun’s not doing too many (televised) interviews at the moment, but I’m willing to be bet that he would have no problem whatsoever being able to identify with The Look (define: “Withering”) that Dragon Barbie  gives as Drogo the Barbarian is preparing to fricassee her brother’s brain matter.

If Viserys had just waited, bided his time, and played the game according to Dothraki rules then he might have had his horde and even, possibly, his crown.  It’s also entirely possible the Dothraki would have eventually stuffed him into a pony’s colon and called it sausage. That’s just the way it is. When you play power games with the CCP – or the Dothraki – it’s often hard to tell who will become king and who will be made into horse haggis.

In any case, while the exact nature of Bo Xilai’s crimes, real or invented, has yet to be established, most pundits agree that he brought at least some of this misfortune crashing down on him by grandstanding just wee bit too much…Actually, forget that.  Bo’s campaign to be part of “The Nine” made Newt Gingrich seem like a master of nuance and subtlety.  Shit, Newt could campaign au naturel stomping the stage like the lust-crazed silverback ape we always knew lurked within and still not achieve the same relative level of naked ambition Bo Xilai showed in the last few months. [4]

 

Tyrion: But, I don’t believe that giants and ghouls and white walkers are lurking beyond the wall. I believe that the only difference between us and the wildlings is that when that wall went up, our ancestors happened to live on the right side of it.

Apropos of nothing except  history…researchers using recently re-discovered a section of the Great Wall, or at least a great wall, in Mongolia.  The “Genghis Khan Wall,” as it has been dubbed, dates from the 11th century and may have been built by the Tanguts who ruled large sections of what is today Northwest China and Southern Mongolia as the Xi Xia.  Of course anytime you start talking about historical boundaries between “China” and “Other People” (especially Mongolians) you get the revisionists who want to backdate the current borders of the PRC and claim Genghis Khan as a son of China and there are quite a few historians in China who would totally agree with Tyrion’s view of wall building. While that is likely true for some groups, the Mongols were not the “Wildlings.” They were “The Others.” Bad ass, kill you quick and reanimate your corpse so they could kill you again winter-is-coming you pastoral little bitches.  Seriously, if Genghis was Chinese, then somebody forgot to tell the Song and Ming courts.  Could have saved them a lot of trouble.  And a few emperors.

 

Ned: Very handsome armor. Not a scratch on it.

Jaime: People have been swinging at me for years, they always seem to miss.

Ned: You’ve chosen your opponents wisely.

Jaime: I have a knack for it.

Ah, Wen Jiabao…you crafty bespectacled devil.  Not since Zhou Enlai has a premier been able to tweak his boss so consistently and (more or less) get away with it.  Count me among those who don’t read too much into Wen’s periodic head fakes in the direction of political reform, but even if nothing will come of them, it’s fun to watch him do it because you KNOW that every time he gets up and makes some cryptic comment about how China needs more freedom or the inevitability of political reform, it causes the hardliners curse out their staff and start throwing old issues of “Seeking Truth” at the closest available wall.  This is a guy who not only was closely associated with ousted premier Zhao Ziyang but was famously photographed with Zhao when the latter was out tearfully telling the students in the square that Li Peng was an unholy douchebag and, by the by, they should probably get out of the way of any large military vehicles that may or may not be heading their way.  If you can come back from that, ain’t nothing that a corrupt weasel like Chen Liangyu can do to you, or even Hu Jintao.

Moreover, I’m excited about Wen in retirement just as I’ve enjoyed the last few episodes of “Zhu Rongji Says Whatever the Fuck He Wants.” Wen is just invested enough in his historical legacy that he’s not going to leave alone any opportunity to be sure he exits the stage as the good guy, no matter which way the political winds blow in the future.  This will displease people.

 

Ned: War was easier than daughters.

More unintended fallout from the Bo Xilai debacle: Shed a tear for poor Chen Xiaodan?  Being the granddaughter of Chen Yun (who played the “Fifth Beatle” role in the original Standing Committee) can’t be nearly as cool as riding around in Bo Guagua’s Ferrari, right? Actually, whither poor Guagua, you get the sense this is not a kid who has heard the word “no” a whole lot in his life. I’m guessing Miss Chen can probably do better.

 

Catelyn Stark: If you lose, your father dies, your sisters die, we die.

Robb Stark: Well, that makes it simple then.

Catelyn Stark: I suppose it does.

I like this exchange so much better than the “When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die” line which was kind of done to death in the promos.  One of the most common questions I’m asked by students (after “How do I find Great Leap Brewery?”) is about the chances of a “Jasmine Revolution” in China.  Both YJ and I wrote about this quite a bit last year so I’m not going to rehash all the many reasons why it’s highly unlikely HOWEVER…just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean you don’t worry about it.  It is unlikely that I would ever be eaten by a bear, but if I’m camping in New Hampshire and I hear something in my campsite, even if it’s only a raccoon or a coyote, it’s natural to jump to the worst case scenario.  Rational me knows that the last fatal bear attack in New Hampshire was in 1786.  Human me hears a raccoon outside my tent and thinks “Holy shit! Grizzly stampede!”

I bring up this up because the other day I was wondering what it must be like to want a job in the Standing Committee.  You know that society, especially in the urban areas, is relatively stable and certainly light years ahead of pre-revolutionary Cairo or Libya under Gaddafi & Sons, but you just can’t get those pictures of Muammar looking like a buck strapped to the hood of a drunkenly-driven F-150 in deer season or the video of Hosni being led away by his jailers out of your mind.

The chances of this happening in China are infinitely remote,  but the CCP is so wrapped up in their own après moi le deluge worldview that they seem unable to see any other possibility and so start jumping at every sound and shadow no matter how insignificant.  Who knows? Maybe they’re right.  The Party runs a pretty tight ship and even then it can get a little…feral at times.[2]  In a state of anarchy who knows what would happen. Replacing the Party would likely involve a complete reboot of the whole system and I’m not sure there are too many people in China today who have the stomach for what that means.

That said, the security apparatus are coming dangerously close to being That Guy who is  convinced that his loyal and loving girlfriend is really a lying cheating whore and so starts making her call him every hour, hacking her email, checking her phone, and generally stalking her.  In case anyone in the CCP high command had to ask…NOBODY likes that guy.

There are some real stakes in the game but I think everybody would win if the public security apparatus took it down about seven or eight notches.

 

Click here for Part 2.


[1] But I could recite my father’s favorite drink order from memory.  Go figure.

[2] By way of example I give you “The Beijing Line 1 Subway at 5:45 p.m. on a weekday.”

[3] Full disclosure: I don’t actually know if Bronn dies in Season 2 although I’m guessing that I’m the only one on the Rectified.name masthead who doesn’t have this bit of information.  We are, as you might have surmised, something of a nerdy bunch.

[4] Did I just spend fifteen minutes Googling ‘silverback apes’ and ‘mating habits.’  Yes, yes I did. And my mom wonders why it’s taking me over four years to finish my dissertation…

[5] Good question for the next time you go speed dating: “Would you rather eat hot pot out of swill oil or soup flavored with Peter Dinklage’s DNA?”

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