12/2 — In which we examine more possible conflicts of interest (and maybe go to war with China?)

Three things that happened:

1 — The China Times reported that the mayor of Taoyuan had a conversation with representatives of Donald Trump about building luxury towers and hotels in his city. Shanghaiist reported on this on November 18th.

With the review process for the Aerotropolis still underway, Taoyuan’s mayor referred to the subject of the meeting as mere investment speculation. Other reports indicate that Eric Trump, the president-elect’s second son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will be coming to Taoyuan later this year to discuss the potential business opportunity.

Why is this so significant? Today, Trump broke with all normal tradition and decorum and called the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen — this is “believed to be the first between a US President or President-Elect since diplomatic relations between the two were cut in 1979,” according to the Financial Times. Trump claimed on Twitter that she had “CALLED ME” but this is unlikely — and the White House was not told about the call until after it happened. I’d say this is uncharted waters, but that ship left a long, long time ago.

If you don’t remember, this is similar to the situation with Argentina a few weeks ago where he spoke to the President of Argentina and just shortly thereafter, a Trump project gained momentum in Buenos Aires.

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2 — Trump has picked Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense, and I’m cautiously, skeptically optimistic. While Congress will have to jump through a few hoops in order for the appointment to stand (because SecDefs can’t been in active duty in the previous seven years), this is the kind of thing that Democrats shouldn’t fight vigorously. His views on Islam are not the most comforting or forward-thinking, and he’s definitely not a flower child hippie, he doesn’t believe torture is useful and is a level-headed adult. Without a doubt, this is the most reasonable pick for Trump’s cabinet thus far.

Still, according to one anonymous official who spoke to the Washington Post:

“If there’s any concern at all, it’s the principle of civilian control over the military. This role was never intended to be a kind of Joint Chiefs of Staff on steroids, and that’s the biggest single risk tied to Mattis. For Mattis, the biggest risk for him personally is that he will have a national security adviser in the form of Mike Flynn whose management style and extreme views may arch Mattis’s eyebrows and cause conflict over time. It’s no fun to be secretary of defense if you have to constantly feud with the White House.”

Stay tuned to this one.

3— I’m going to break a little here and share a post by a gentleman named Tony Pierce made today on Facebook regarding the situation with former NFL running back Joe McKnight’s murder in New Orleans. (By the way, Tony’s a great follow in general on Facebook, since he has a bunch of interesting jobs and is a terrific writer.)

This story should only get bigger — and uglier. It’s hard to understand how any of this happened in the first place, but there should be more transparency in any case.

Three more things, tomorrow evening.

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