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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 45 "Excessive punishments are a sign of exhaustion."
As I've recently confessed, the angry Italian Papa in me can be a real problem. Master Sun gives us the ultimate key to the situation in today's verse. Exhaustion. Do you have a severe side that comes out when you're exhausted? Giles term here is "dire distress." How exhausting!
Giles further explains, "...in such a case discipline becomes relaxed, and unwonted severity is necessary to keep the men to their duty." Relaxed discipline results from distress and exhaustion. Yes, absolutely. Unwonted severity, however, isn't necessary, it just seems so.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 44 "Excessive rewards are a sign of desperation."
So why didn't the Minneapolis protest build to a greater crescendo than it did? The protesters were, I propose, too well paid. Social media flash mobs and bussed in paid protesters have proven to be a vast loss of money by left wing billionaires.
Consider the protest - apparently half a million strong or so - on Trump's inauguration. It succeeded, to be sure. There was adequate shock and horror that HRC had lost, and her supporters needed just such an outlet for their heartbreak. I can understand that.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 43 "Men whispering together, huddled in small groups, are a sign of disaffection."

And Lionel Giles: "The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking in subdued tones points to disaffection amongst the rank and file."
It's too bad we don't see them doing this so often today, because I'm sure they do. Consider the protesters outside Trump's rally in Minneapolis last night. That was obviously planned. Small groups of men whispering, huddled. What a pathetic escapade.
Pick any of the failing Democrat campaigns you wish, Swalwell for instance. Who told him he should run? Believe me, if it had been me, I'd have been whispering. How about Kamala Harris? Who's telling her she can still win? She's got no chance.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 42 "If they fail to hang up their pots and do not return to their quarters; then they are at bay."
We commence, today, with the wonderful term "at bay." Interestingly, it has two, seemingly opposing definitions. A bit of looking will reveal they are richly complimentary. Here's the first: "Forced to confront one's attackers or pursuers; cornered."
Here's the second: "In the position of being unable to move closer while attacking or trying to approach someone —used with keep or hold: The soldiers kept the attackers at bay."
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 41 "If they feed grain to their horses and meat to their men; (42) If they fail to hang up their pots and do not return to their quarters; then they are at bay."
We'll work on verse 41 today, leaving 42 for tomorrow, but the two are just one sentence and need to be read together to get the conclusion: then they are at bay. Grain to horses, meat to men? What can that mean?
Minford, our translator offers this: "The commentators are not sure if this refers to horse meat of slaughtered cattle. Either way, these are desperate matters." I'll give you Giles in a moment, but let's look at Minford's counsel further, first.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 40 "If officers are prone to anger, the men become weary."
Have you ever had an angry boss (and who hasn't)? Then you know how completely wearying it can be. No matter what you do, it's never good enough. If you raise your results, you instantly need to raise them more. The snapping and yelling, it's insufferable.
Right now, we have an angry President. Yet, for some reason, I don't see us losing hope, faith, or patience with him. I think it's because he's angry at the right people. What's more, he is NOT angry with us, his people. He always remembers us. He never forgets.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 39 "Banners and flags moving are a sign of disorder."
When did we lose our way, in America? When did our banners and flags start moving, such that our enemies noted the signs of our disorder? It's NOT an easy question to answer. Still, I offer that following WWII, Free Market Capitalism took a great hit in the late 40's.
We might make the case that the real year was 1995, when the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs from 1948, GATT, evolved into the World Trade Organization. Globalism's ascension was complete. America in retreat.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 38 "Confusion among the troops is a sign that the general is not respected."
Funny, even while talking about structure yesterday, I failed to notice that verses 37 - 47, all 11, are about failures of Command and Discipline. Yesterday's men shouting in the night to give themselves courage was an obvious example. Failure of Command and Discipline.
Today's verse on confusion among the troops being a sign of disrespect for the general was even more obviously so, and that was my clue. I looked ahead, and wow, all the way to verse 47 we are warned of various other forms of failures of Command and Discipline. Fascinating.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 36 "Birds gather on empty ground."
I love this verse. It is such a wonderful vision of victory. You look up to the Heaven - I imagine in the morning - and you see birds flying back and forth over your enemy's camp. You can tell by the way they're flying; the enemy has decamped. You have won. What a moment.
Have you tortured yourself by even listening to a tiny clip of HRC's recent spate of TV show appearances? Her words are like birds flying over the empty camp of her campaign. She has more and more excuses, but there's no threat or power or intellectual force in those words. None.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 35 "An advantage perceived but not acted on, indicates utter exhaustion."
Do you work for a large firm? If so, does your firm offer training courses for advancement? If so, have you taken them, and did you do a great job? What about night school after work? What about volunteer work, the kind your firm would recognize in assessing you?
If you haven't taken advantage of these opportunities, could it be that you're bit more tired in your career than you may wish to admit? Maybe your work is simply more job than career, and you're tired, maybe even exhausted. Hear Master Sun's counsel. Look first at yourself.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 34 "Bearers of water drinking first indicate great thirst."
And Giles, 9: 30 "If those who are seen to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst.

[As Tu Mu remarks: "One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man."]
Have you ever noticed the fish tank at the entrance to any good Chinese restaurant? For the Chinese, water equals wealth, money. You can understand this by the following aphorism: A man without money is like a fish without water.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 33 "Soldiers standing bent on their spears indicate great hunger."
Have you ever fought so hard, and so long, with so little to eat that, bent over, you needed anything at hand to help you even move at all? Have you felt hunger pain so fierce your body couldn't function without a morsel of something to eat? Can you picture it?
I have, and I know the look of famished exhaustion when I see it. Think of the tears that flowed the early morning of 9 November 2016 at the Clinton Victory Party, and on every news show of the MSM that horrible night for them. We starved them, stole their certain victory.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 32 "Some men advancing and some retreating are a sign of a decoy."
I begin today with a confession. I do NOT understand apportionment, and I should. What I can tell you is that the 16th amendment's two most important terms are: "without apportionment." While not getting the idea, quite right, I do have some knowledge of the history.
Of the three branches of government, Congress (or rather, it's lower House) is the one with the purse. And, from its 1789 inception, Congress hated the limitations imposed on its ability to generate federal revenue. No direct taxes, and this strange apportionment thing.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 31 "Much running about and soldiers parading are a sign of expectation."

Lionel Giles, 9: 27 "When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into rank, it means that the critical moment has come.
Today's point goes to Giles, I believe. I LOVE the term "the critical moment has come." And, here's Giles' own addition thought on this verse:

"Every man hastening to his proper place under his own regimental banner."
We have to face it, America, we have allowed the banner of Socialism to become one of the ranks that today's political soldiers can fall under, not realizing they're betraying America Herself in so doing. And here's one of our great errors.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 30 "Words of peace, but no treaty, are a sign of a plot."
In his hope and change campaign, Obama offered all of us words of peace, but there was no treaty. When he promised us we could keep our plan or doctor if we liked them, these were words of peace but followed by no treaty.There's another word for all this: lies. Promises broken.
Today, Warren tells us we need Major Structural Change. She too is attempting to cover her raw socialism in words of peace - no one should be without healthcare insurance - but you may be assured there will be no treaty to follow. I am sad today, and I'll explain.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 29 "Light chariots emerging first on the wings are a sign of battle formation."
Before we dive into today's verse, we need to review the last two verses just a small bit. They make up a yin/yang couplet. And, in fact, Giles puts them together into just one verse, likely for that reason. Let's look at his version, below.
Lionel Giles: #SunTzu 9: 24 "Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as if to attack are signs that he will retreat."
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 28 "Strong words, coupled with an aggressive advance, are a sign of impending retreat."
As I write, today is 26 September 2019, the Democrats are set to commence Impeachment formally with a vote. If they do, @realDonaldTrump will enter that short list of American Presidents ever to suffer the process. Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton preceded.
@realDonaldTrump Have you read the transcription of the Ukraine conversation? I have. And, I've discussed it with my Democrat friends. It amazes me how subjective it has all become. To them, he's just a crook, a liar, a cheater and a scumbag. To me, he's a hero. There you have the divide.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 27 "Humble words, coupled with increased preparations, are a sign of impending attack."
But how would you know? How would you know that increased preparations were being engaged? It's a pretty big question. A point I've made many times is worthy of your consideration again here. There's a reason the last chapter of this book in about spies, intelligence.
The commentators share an amazing story that illustrates this verse to perfection, and no, I'm not going to retell or quote it. Go find it, you'll love it, it's truly an awesome story. Subtly, so subtly, the story completely hinges on intelligence.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 26 "Dust in drifting pockets is a sign of an army encamping."
Our wonderful commentators explain, before an army encamps, it sends out light horse to scout out the location. Dust drifting up in drifting pockets is the sign that indicates this activity. Light horse - unarmored - can move quickly, lightly, across the land.
We can see precisely such pockets today in the Democrat's build up for the 2020 election. Here are their drifting pockets of dust. Climate change, and the Green New Deal, which clearly states that Capitalism Is Killing The Planet. Note that. Capitalism is the bad guy.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 25 "Dust in scattered strands is a sign of firewood's being collected."
I'm trying to picture it. Where would firewood be, such that various soldiers collecting it would send up "scattered strands" of dust? The commentators give little help. Various men sent, dust rises in different spot, etc. Still not really seeing it.
I think this may be what I need. First, trees, forests grow where there's water so it's hard for me to picture both firewood and dust. But I'm obviously wrong! Perhaps some naturalist might help me out. Where are there trees for firewood, but also ready, dry earth for dust?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 24 "Dust low and spreading is a sign of infantry approaching."
If you're a faithful reader of Giles commentary, you find him, everyone once in a while, a bit condescending. I don't mean to his enemy translator, Calthrop, against whom he NEVER misses an opportunity of attack. I mean to the ancient Chinese tradition.
In these verses, for instance, he poo-poos the fine distinctions of types of dust rising into the heavens. I suspect, however, we're seeing a bit of British jingoism poking through. The modern Chinese were, to them, barbarians to be squeezed.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 23 "Dust high and peaking is a sign of chariots approaching."
I think most of us today have essentially no sense whatsoever of the awesome, fearsome power of a chariot. You get a sense, somewhat, if you watch the movie Ben Hur. But even still, our modern minds must stretch to perceive the horrifying fear they inspired in times past.
I might try to make the comparison to a Sherman tank or today, an Abrams, but most of us civilians still won't be able to feel the pure, earth shaking terror of facing such a vehicle rolling toward you in anger. Considering that difficulty, how do we feel the terror of a chariot?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 22 "Beasts startled are a sign of ambush."
Zhang Yu helps again: "Surprise attacks are usually launched from some precipitous height or out of dense undergrowth, and this startles the creatures lying hidden there into sudden movement."
Do you ever lose your sources, just can't find them again, and get driven crazy over it? No? I do, frequently. I once read - some damned where - about a meeting of startled NeverTrump Republicans right after Ted Cruz conceded the race to Trump, but before the convention.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 9: 21 "Birds rising up in flight are a sign of ambush."
Oh yeah, I need my beloved commentators to help me with this one!

Here's Zhang Yu: "If birds that are flying in a straight line suddenly soar upward into the sky, it means that soldiers are setting an ambush below."
Have I mentioned how much I adore geometry, and most of all Euclid? We begin with a single point. We move it just a tad. Now we have two points. And if we track the motion, we have a line. And if it's even with itself, it's a straight line. How much do I love Euclid?
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