The Magician and the Fool: Tariffs, strategy, and the story from the Devil's Picture Book.

Canada's current floundering shouldn't be a surprise. That Donald Trump has stomped all over Justin Trudeau and his kid sidekick Chrystia Freeland shows that both are clearly in over their shrill empty heads.

Donald Trump blindsided the duo perfectly, and, as neither are cunning, did not see the obvious.

Trump made it clear that no ally can expect the status quo, and it was an unpredictable move, but fit his narrative perfectly. I have seen many a power player in the business world play that game: come in, shake up everyone's slumbering confidence, put everyone on notice that the old routines are gone, and now it is survival with the tycoon clearly on top of the pecking order.

The US President gave an extension at first, with Canada -- as usual -- thinking they charmed it from him, and when the second deadline came again -- Canada assumed they'd get another exemption and extension.

Because Canada is America's friend.

And Trump proved their theory wrong -- using a shocking and unexpected gambit to do it.

National security.

The charm offensive and smooth moves didn't do its magic trick.

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Journalists never understood they are no match for a Magician, and Trump is a Magician. He understands optics and illusions, and can improvise on the spot as he plans his next act very carefully, creating the chaos of misdirection to do it. As journalists are arrogant and self-important by nature, they always assume they are powerful and innately so. Trump proved all of their theories wrong and they never forgave him for that. 

Trump waited until the US had an extraordinarily strong economy to strike. That wasn't a coincidence. It gives him slack until the next act.

On the other hand, Europe has their own problems, and Canada isn't doing as well as the Pollyannas pretend it is: housing prices are out of control, utilities are high, the "sharing economy" is rampant here, and when Ontario raised the minimum wage, many workers found their hours cut as it was also exposed that those who seem to have well-paying jobs -- such as college professors, were precariously employed with dodgy hours and no benefits.

Canada took for granted that they were "safe", and some sort of more sophisticated junior partner to the US.

Yet Trump has set up world leaders as contestants of a new version of The Apprentice.

And contestant Justin Trudeau was fired.

Canada's retaliation is childish: it is not strategic. Trump threw his weight in steel: Canada hit back with quiche and playing cards, as if small town manufacturers couldn't shift to their own country when their economy is doing better than Canada's. The slap back looks childish and petty -- and the US press hardly noticed it at all. With a weak Canadian dollar, the buying power on this side of the border has less impact than what is needed to be an actual threat.

And that these are small potato items, means that Canada's economy is so weak and inconsequential, that they are not a real global player. That Freeland babbles that this slap is the worst Canada has ever done has not had any effect save to prove that Canada isn't a world-class player. She comes off as a vindictive and immature snot, proving Trump's "spoiled" label is right on the money.

It is as if a fed-up parent cuts off a teenagers lavish allowance -- and the teenager strikes back by not buying mommy or daddy a birthday card.

It didn't have to be so catastrophically pathetic. Had Trudeau and Freeland been even mediocre Magicians, they would have understood the narrative and the game, and plan accordingly.

But they are Fools, not Magicians. They are not strategists.

And it was Trudeau who has cast himself as a Fool. Once without a care, taking vanity selfies, foppishly playing with silly socks, and mugging for the camera was his weapons of choice as it was all sunny ways with him.

Until he learned that reality wasn't sunny. The light came from a Magician.

His fixation on Trump's misdirection of national security clearly shows he is not in the same league as the Magician. Both Freeland and Trudeau proved to be nothing more than gullible children.

This is just the first chapter in the Devil's Picture Book: the fortunes of Canada are now taking a darker turn -- and this time, they cannot count on the US to serve as a buffer or enabler.

The safety net has been kicked away, and like the Tarot's Fool, they are standing on the edge of a cliff, while the Magician is holding all of the weapons and is the One.

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And the Fool is the Zero.

Canada is at a crossroads right now. There is still hardcore denial right as I write this, with people sunny spinning rot. The narrative has changed. The game has changed.

But the denials have not changed. With other nations in the crosshairs, they are not going to worry about a rival's fortunes -- and with Trump's tariffs, allies have now become rivals.

It is going to be a wild ride -- and the old model of journalism collapsed because that model has become incapable of seeing what needs to be done to navigate through that picture book...