Category Archives: Commentary

Conventional Economic Thinking, Getting It Wrong

Yesterday I mentioned Paul Krugman, a NYT opinion columnist, and the tantrum he was in the midst of throwing over the result of the election. Despite his regular columns on politics, his day job is as an economist, a Nobel-winning one at that. This fact doesn’t render his views any more right, given the fact that economics is essentially a branch of Philosophy rather than a branch of the Hard Sciences.

Krugman took time out of his of his anti-Trump meltdown to post this tweet, in which me mocked ‘creative desctruction.’

(Tweet: “So creative destruction is mostly BS. Kind of suspected that  “)

Krugman has long held an antipathy to the idea of creative destruction, in particular when applied generally to an economy in the mold of Joseph Schumpeter. Consider this post he wrote a couple years ago:

The same impulse, I think, is why Schumpeter gets cited so much. If you read his stuff directly, it’s interesting, I guess, although his attempts to explain the business cycle were a waste of good paper. But it’s that glamorizing phrase “creative destruction” that did it, because it’s so flattering to the big money (and excuses a lot of suffering, too).

[…]

So here’s a revolutionary thought: maybe we need to do less disruption and put more effort into doing whatever we do well.

The post in question, as well as the recent tweet was in reference to the idea of creative destruction on a micro level in the sense of business innovation. The abstract of the paper in the tweet reads as follows:

Entrants and incumbents can create new products and displace the products of competitors. Incumbents can also improve their existing products. How much of aggregate productivity growth occurs through each of these channels? Using data from the U.S. Longitudinal Business Database on all non-farm private businesses from 1976–1986 and 2003–2013, we arrive at three main conclusions: First, most growth appears to come from incumbents. We infer this from the modest employment share of entering firms (defined as those less than 5 years old). Second, most growth seems to occur through improvements of existing varieties rather than creation of brand new varieties. Third, own-product improvements by incumbents appear to be more important than creative destruction. We infer this because the distribution of job creation and destruction has thinner tails than implied by a model with a dominant role for creative destruction.

These conclusions are, in truth, straightforward. Following on Peter Thiel’s concept of ‘zero to one,’ it is much harder to create an entirely new product, concept or entire industry from scratch as opposed to improving an existing product, concept or industry. However, the true advances in humanity come from these ‘zero to one’ moments. Going from horse and carriage to automobile was a far more substantive and ‘ball advancing’ move than the improvement of the automobile which has taken place since.

Applied to the individual businesses, there is more ‘growth’ from the likes of Proctor and Gamble, Ford and GE than there are from the likes of Google simply because there are simply fewer Googles.

Krugman uses this to poo-pooh the idea of creative destruction generally. His fight is with the like of people such as myself, who argue that when economies as a whole enter into recession, the best thing for that economy would be for those stricken businesses to be allowed to fold, that bad debt to be liquidated, and prices find their appropriate level, in line with the incomes and economic reality.

This is where the disdain for the ‘glorification’ of creative destruction comes from, because when applied to an economy as a whole, the aforementioned recessionary symptoms lead to falling employment and lower prices in the short term. This is, of course a painful thing, and Krugman, with his pro-government  leanings, believes that the government can solve these problems by easing monetary conditions and spending money to prop up the failed businesses and restoring debt. When Krugman writes about sticking to doing ‘whatever we do well,’ he means ‘whatever economic paradigm was prevailing before the recession,’ when applied to economies as a whole.

The problem with his, and indeed the standard Keynesian approach to the world, is that existing paradigms may not be lasting. They may fail under changing conditions and thus must adapt to stay relevant to the new economic reality. As such printing trillions of dollars to revive a failing economic model founded on debt fueled spending collateralized by ever rising asset prices is a recipe for failure, in the long run. Creative destruction is thus far from being ‘BS’ but in fact the only way for economies as a whole to be structured appropriately, so as to be in line with the underlying economic realities of the time.

**********

Elsewhere in Ivy League Economics PhD News, Alan Kreuger, also of Princeton, and Lawrence Katz of Harvard recently released a study which showed that 95% of the jobs created in the Obama ‘recovery’ were part time or contractor work. This is hardly surprising to most who understood the problem with the idea that reflating asset bubbles was not a strategy for success.

The prior bubble popped because prices were sent out of wack. Businesses could not recoup the ever higher costs of production with ever higher prices for the final goods. The lack of demand at higher prices meant that prices could only fall, and with them wages, the price of labor.

Keynesian economists such as Krugman, Krueger and Katz, have no tolerance for such vagaries of the market, and seek to prop prices. In doing so, they propped the higher costs of production which meant they were forced to cut costs elsewhere. This meant workers were either laid off, replaced with robots, or had their hours reduced, or some combination of the three.

This thrust the worker into an environment in which his or her hours were cut while the prices he or she had to pay for goods and services rose. This meant that the worker had to supplement the now part-time or no-time work he or she was doing with a second or third part-time job, or becoming a contractor.

Obamacare crystallized this phenomenon, with its mandates on employers, especially service sector employers, leading to many of them reducing the hours of their staff to avoid the mandatory health care expenditures, hiring more part time workers to fill in the gaps.

This was how Obama’s ‘stellar’ job creation statistics were constructed. The most telling part of the article is the following [emphasis mine]:

Krueger, a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was surprised by the finding.

The disappearance of conventional full-time work, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work, has hit every demographic. “Workers seeking full-time, steady work have lost,” said Krueger.

Under Obama, 1 million fewer workers, overall, are working than before the beginning of the Great Recession.

That the likes of Krueger, a Keynesian through and through, would be surprised is of no surprise to me. The Keynesian understanding of the economic world has shown to be bankrupt in the long run. That it is survives as a respected school of thought is down to its ‘success’ in the short run, on a superficial basis. The fact that the Obama administration created millions of jobs, tripled the stock market and has engineered housing prices back to near pre-crisis levels is seeming evidence of the fact that these Keynesian polices have succeeded.

But as this paper notes, this was a papering over the cracks. Despite the touts of the administration, the people know that the economic recovery hasn’t been as great as it seemed, as they see it every day. They are the ones who have to go out in search of multiple part time jobs to make up the hours that were lost elsewhere. They are the ones who are paying higher and higher costs for the same standard of living.

To do this and to be continually told that the economy is improving was a slap in the face which proved one too many for the average voter, which ultimately goes some distance to explain why Trump had such a stern base of support.

Furthermore, this explains why the old media outlets who crow endlessly about how unqualified Trump’s picks are for his cabinet. Krugman, Katz and Kreuger have a combined 100 plus years of economic experience, yet for all their ‘wisdom,’ their understanding of the economy is wholly inadequate.

Chronicles in Old Media Delusion

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times thinks he has found the solution to the pandemic of ‘fake news,’ which he and others in the Old Media are convinced cost Hillary Clinton the election. Of course, this ‘fake news’ is most accurately described as ‘news and/or opinions which do not line up with the views espoused by those on the left.’

In his article, he points to the latest outrage sparked by yet another Donald Trump tweet, in which he took umbrage to a Vanity Fair review of his own Trump Grill.

(Tweet: “Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!”)

Rutenberg, as with most old media journalists, treat these mini blasts from Trump as though they had been chiseled onto Moses’ stone tablets, such is the importance they give to 140-character, largely throwaway streams of consciousness.

In fairness, they can be quite entertaining, and given that Trump is going to be the next president of the United States, and an avid Twitter user, I can understand the fixation on them. In this particular tweet, Rutenberg sees the seeds of a victory for the old media he represents against Trump, who has been at odds with them since he embarked on his campaign for the presidency.

As Mr. Trump tries to burn the media village down, he may just be saving it.

His running campaign of Twitter attacks, declarations of failure and vows to punish the traditional news media is threatening to do what so many years of cost-cutting and re-envisioning could not do as easily: put the industry on more solid economic footing, where customers who realize its value are willing to pay for it more regularly.

It’s early. And, in traditional media, hope is the province of masochists.

But in the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations.

It’s as if Mr. Trump’s media attacks have combined with the heightened attention on the perils of fake news to create one big fat advertisement for the value of basic journalism.

“The fake news business is going to be great for journalism in the long run,” Mr. Carter told me Friday, referring to Mr. Trump as “the Fake Newser in Chief.” “Proper news organizations should thrive under this.”

The irony if this is that Rutenberg’s conclusion describes the exact dynamic which existed between his Old Media and Trump throughout the campaign. That is, the constant attacks by the old media against Trump probably did more than anything to galvanize his supporters and turn those who originally opposed him. Take this quote from Slate Star Codex, who noted that he was an anti-Trump supporter, but understood the fact that the media, by ‘crying wolf’  enabled what should have been a joke candidate (in his eyes) to ascend to victory:

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Stop talking about dog whistles. The kabbalistic similarities between “dog-whistling” and “wolf-crying” are too obvious to ignore.

Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

In that now-viral post, SSC points out the fact that the KKK has a memebership of about 5,000, which is about 0.02% of the population and orders of magnitude fewer numbers than groups like the Nation of Islam, Church of Satan and Harare Karishnas. Yet none of these groups are taken seriously at all, let alone feared by the media to have had the ear of a presidential candidate such that we should all cluth our children closer at night.

SSC notes Trump has explicitly ignored and denounced David Duke, the media’s KKK go-to figure of note, on a consistent basis since the year 2000. Yet this didn’t stop the media from beating on and on about Trump and his white nationalist base.

SSC tears apart many other similar old media talking points which were used to batter Trump with on a regular basis during the campaign. The problem for the old media was that their propaganda drives took place in the age of the internet, and more importantly in the age of social media. The existence of ALL of the source material and primary sources meant that the false narratives the old media could be deconstructed in real time, and spread to the public as a whole.

And in the face of this, the old media kept crying wolf, to the point where Rutenberg’s own employer had to print a mea culpa of sorts, in which it stated it would ‘rededicate’ itself ‘to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.’

Indeed, those last two words, Times journalism printed in that manner are quite curious. One would think that good, or even great journalism would be more appropriate an aim. By referring to their own special brand of journalism, one that had been categorically shoddy (recall, Rutenberg himself argued that it was right for journalists to treat Trump with open hostility earlier this summer), the piece from the Editorial Board reads less mea culpa and more ‘we’re doubling down.’

One of the NYT’s more famous columnists, Paul Krugman is in the midst of such a doubling down, a multi-day effort of Wrong spanned out across multiple outlets. To be sure, Krugman is an opinion writer, but in the context of this discussion, we live in a current journalistic climate in which doing ‘real’ journalism is to give the opinions of a leftist. To take an opposing view isn’t just disagreement, but heresy, worthy of censure. In that climate you can’t just have a difference of opinion, you are considered to be evil if you disagree.

Krugman’s meltdown began with this tweet last weekend in which he stated that Trump would be politically incentivized by a 9/11 style terror attack:

(Tweet: “Thought: There was (rightly) a cloud of illegitimacy over Bush, dispelled (wrongly) by 9/11. Creates some interesting incentives for Trump”)

He then frothed at the mouth after the Electoral College confirmed Trump’s Nov. 8 election victory:

(Tweet: “So it’s official, and it’s vile: the loser of the popular vote installed by Russian intervention, a rogue FBI, and epic media malfunction.”)

Then kept fighting the good ‘Trump is White Nationalist’ fight:

(Tweet: “To join Trump admin, you have to be white nationalist conspiracy theorist, but must also be always wrong re your supposed area of expertise)

His last three columns he wrote (here, here, here) were all to do with the fact that the election was stolen by the Russians and the FBI, and that our corrupt institutions let us down. On that final score he is partially right – our corrupt institutions have let us down – and it was because of that the electorate was galvanized by Trump and his call to ‘drain the swamp’ to take action against them.

The institutions didn’t want Trump. The problem was that in Clinton stood a candidate so corrupt herself that the institutions couldn’t deflect Trump’s charges. Clinton would have skated by a Jeb or Rubio, neither of whom were willing to ‘go there,’ and thus the public wouldn’t have cared about the alleged misdeeds of Clinton. If no politician was willing to stand up, the people would have trudged to the polls to elect Clinton, despite the stench of corruption.

Trump was different, Trump stood up to Clinton and the media who backed her. That’s why he won. And in the wake of it all, that same media has rushed to decry the constant discussion of that Clinton Stench during the campaign as ‘fake news.’

It’s been said repeatedly, but the post-election stance has shown that the old media has learned nothing. As they continue to define the fake news/proper news spectrum as pro-Trump/anti-Trump opinion respectively, they continue to dig themselves into a deeper hole.

Rutenberg is absolutely right in saying that proper news organizations will benefit wildly from the coming journalistic landscape, which in many ways is already here. However, given the waning trust in old media outlets like his, followed by his own shop posting middling profits, as well as an office space downsize in the offing, it is clear he has the specific organizations on each side of the real/fake news divide backwards.

Election Trutherism: Putin’s Akina-Inu Ate My Homewok

Hillary Clinton, spoke on Thursday to a group of her donors, presumably reassuring them as to why the $1 billion-plus they spent on her wasn’t a colossal waste of money.  She outspent Trump massively, while also having the vast majority of academia, the media, and pop culture behind her.

To lose with that sort of advantage at the foundation of her campaign from day one certainly makes this election result a contender for one of the greater upsets in political history. It had to be a tough ask, to get in front of the money men after such a catastrophe, which is probably why it took over a month for her to gather up the courage to face that music.

When she did, she chose to adopt the ‘Russia ate my homework’ explanation which had been a part of the discussion prior to the election, and has now been screamed from the rooftops afterward:

Speaking to a group of donors in Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Putin, the Russian president, had never forgiven her for the accusation she made in 2011, when she was secretary of state, that parliamentary elections his country held that year were rigged.

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Mrs. Clinton said.

It is the first time Mrs. Clinton has publicly addressed the impact of the hacks since the intelligence community concluded that they were specifically aimed at harming her campaign.

“Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign,” Mrs. Clinton told the group, which collectively poured roughly $1 billion into her effort. “This is not just an attack on me and my campaign, although that may have added fuel to it. This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation.”

It wasn’t the fact that she was simply outworked by Trump. It wasn’t that she ran a campaign hyper-focused on an aggressive Identity Politics and a grievance culture which has long since worn out its welcome. It wasn’t that she merely assumed that because it was ‘her turn’ she would waltz to a coronation. It wasn’t that she was reckless with classified information while at Secretary of State. It wasn’t the fact that she was the poster child for modern day political corruption and pay-to-pay politics (exemplified by the very group she was speaking to).

It was the Russians and their mischievous hackers.

This Election Trutherism has been dutifully put forth by leftists and those in the Old Media who still cannot believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election. They have brought this Trutherism to a new level in recent days by lobbying for the Electoral College, which meets tomorrow, to reject the result of the election by denying Donald Trump the 270 votes he needs to become president. It is an exercise in hypocrisy and arrogance, not to mention a gross misinterpretation of the Constitution.

The Charge

Last week, The Washington Post published this story, which alleged that the CIA had come to a definitive conclusion that the Russians were behind the shenanigans that took place during the election, and did so specifically to aid Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

There is plenty to note here, particularly the high level of vagueness involved. A ‘secret assessment,’ found that ‘actors’ with ‘connections’ to Russia leaked hacked emails to WikiLeaks, ‘according to US officials.’ There is not a shred of concrete evidence in any of these claims, and none has materialized since they were made.

Furthermore, that these alleged efforts were done with the express purpose of boosting Trump’s chances is also without evidence. The Post piece mentions that the CIA ‘findings’ had been questioned by other intelligence agencies, on the basis of there not being enough concrete information:

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

These holes in the narrative were ‘corrected’ just a few days later when the major entities which comprise the Old Media reported that the intelligence community now believe that Vladamir Putin was directly involved, instructing the hacking and how it would be used. From NBC:

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore,” the official said.

In other words, the vague confirmation by anonymous ‘US officials’ that the Russians interfered with the election with the purpose of aiding Trump, was later backed up with ‘new intelligence’ from yet more anonymous ‘officials’ who declared that Putin was personally involved and even directed the whole thing.

Of course all of this vagueness can be justified as being necessary, so as to shield the sensitivity of ongoing intelligence work. The Post refers to this in its piece. However, that vagueness is also the perfect shield for narrative creation, which, in the context of the totality of the post-election events suggests that this is the likelier of the necessity of the ambiguity.

Spheres of Influence

The game is made much clearer once one advances from the contention that the Russians interfered with the election to the discussion of exactly how they interfered. Both Loretta Lynch on Thursday and President Obama yesterday unequivocally stated that there was no technical interference from Russia or anyone else in the election. In other words, voting machines were not tampered with, nor were votes incorrectly tallied, and things of that nature. This was confirmation from the highest level that the 2016 election was a free and fair one, at least in a pure technical sense.

So what is the outrage about? It stems from the fact that someone leaked emails from John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to Wikileaks, who then leaked it to the public in driblets over the final months of the campaign. The Russians have been fingered as the ‘someone,’ and this has been spun to be evidence that the election was ‘hacked,’ and our Democratic Institutions have been tampered with.

That narrative is patently false, as Obama and Lynch have confirmed for us, and any characterization of Russian involvement in this manner is designed to deceive the audience. The Russians (if it was indeed them) engaged in an old fashioned data leak. That was it. They didn’t hack anything but John Podesta’s email account, and released its contents to the public.

The public was thus exposed to new information, which it absorbed and factored in to its decision making. If this constitutes an attempt to nefariously ‘interfere’ with the election, then the leak of the Billy Bush tape, in which Trump used some vulgar language in speaking about women, also qualifiesas an attempt to ‘interfere’ with the election.

Both leaks exposed pertinent information to the public about the candidates. That the Podesta and DNC leaks may have originated from international sources is irrelevant. The information itself was true, and damaging. Michael Tracey provides a bullet point list of what those leaks revealed in this piece, and he concludes it by correctly noting that what was leaked was most definitely in the public interest.

In short, the ‘Russians’ interfered with the US election by showing how the DNC and the Clinton campaign planned to themselves interfere with the US election by colluding with party bigwigs, donors and the media to stack the deck in her favor. They rigged the Democratic Party Primary against Bernie Sanders. Both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile came under fire as heads of the DNC, with the former having to step down as a result. The latter was caught funneling debate questions to Clinton.

It exposed the private dealings of Hillary Clinton behind closed doors, notably her insistence that it was important to have both a private and public position on issues. It shed light onto some of the more shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation which coincided with Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. The leaks ultimately put some meat onto the bones of the concept that rampant political corruption goes on at the highest levels of modern government. Most people always suspected this, but lacked the concrete evidence. In many ways, those leaks provided that evidence.

It is telling that throughout the campaign, as the leaks were being delivered, those parties involved never outright denied the validity of the information being released. The most they could do was to appeal to the same sort alarm over foreign intrusion which has been taken to new heights post election.

The whole thing is reminiscent of the poker scene from the 1973 movie, The Sting, featuring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Newman’s character, Shaw, outwits a mobster, Lonnegan, playing in a private game. The idea was to set Shaw up by trick dealing him a four of a kind, which in poker is a virtually unbeatable hand. This would induce Shaw to end up betting all of his chips, and possibly more, on such a sure thing. Lonnegan, carrying a second deck in his pocket, ‘dealt’ himself a better four of a kind, and thus would have shown down with Lonnegan, losing everything, thus completing the scam.

Shaw, wise to the gambit, was ready for it, and when the time came made a switch. The movie doesn’t show how he did it, but Shaw had originally been dealt four threes, while Lonnegan had been dealt four nines. The betting carries on until both players are all in. Shaw then turns over four jacks, to the dismay of all in the room. Lonnegan, defeated, storms into a side room angry enough to kill. His associate, bewildered, tells Lonnegan: “Doyle, I know I gave him four THREES. He had to make a switch. We can’t let him get away with that.”

Lonnegan response was famous: “What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?”

Unlike those on the left, Lonnegan understood that you can’t call someone out for being crooked when you are crooked yourself. Having been outsmarted, Lonnegan accepted Shaw had bested him and moved on.

Instead, the left has responded by ramping up the outrage, making it seem as though they had been wronged. Again, both the Attorney General and the President of the United States confirmed that the 2016 electoral process was a free and fair one, devoid of technical interference by any perpetrator, foreign or domestic.

Despite this, democrat politicians, aided by their leftist friends in the Old Media have succeeded in driving the hysteria about Russian involvement into the stratosphere. What happened was a data leak by unknown actors, who could have been foreign. What the old media has implicated, in their usage of terms such as ‘hacked the election,’ is that some sort of advanced espionage operation took place, which was coordinated to install Donald Trump as president.

In the past week or so op–ed after op-ed has filled the pages of newspapers across the country decrying the now ‘tainted’ election, calling on the Electoral College to rectify the situation when it meets on Monday. They’ve even resorted to the failed tactic of trotting out celebs to stand in front of a white wall delivering a public service announcement instructing the Electors to stand up for America and do the right thing, which is to not confirm Trump’s presidency. Naturally, the video has disabled comments and the like/dislike button.

Suddenly, Constitutional Originalism is In Vogue

Vox wrote this piece a few weeks ago to explain why it would be a legitimate action for the Electoral College to not vote for Trump, citing the constitution and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers writings. To be sure, it would be legitimate for the Electors to do whatever they wanted, individual state rules notwithstanding. The constitution allows for them to do this. However, the standard reasoning provided by leftist for why they should vote for someone other than Trump is wrong. The Vox article writes:

Constitutional history makes clear that the founders had three main purposes in designing the Electoral College.

The first was to stop a demagogue from becoming president. At the Constitutional Convention, arguing in support of the Electoral College, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he was “against a popular election” for president because the people would be “misled by a few designing men.” In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. They would also stop anyone who would “convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.”

The characterization of Trump as a demagogue is a matter of opinion. The fact that political pundits in the old media refer to Trump as a demagogue nearly every time they speak about him does not make it a fact. The fact that Trump did tap into a huge wave of populism does not render his policies or his victory somehow illegitimate simply because of that populism.

Consider that Trump has been called a racist xenophobe for putting forth an immigration proposal that seeks to rigorously enforce existing law which for many years has been ignored on many levels. The fact that this is such a popular stance among his supporters and played a huge role in his victory has been used as an example of his ‘demagoguery.’

In terms of a ‘violent movement,’ to the left Trump’s campaign qualifies as such given his signal to aggressively follow the law means that those who break the law are going to be in for an uncomfortable time, to put it mildly. In the realm of immigration, this means illegal immigrants, a protected class of the left, are going to be subject to the ‘violence’ of facing consequences for breaking American immigration laws.

It says a lot about where we are as a society when calls to follow the law can be considered to be demagoguery, no matter how brash they are.

As for Hamilton’s wish to essentially banish charming, engaging, charismatic celebrity types from holding the office, if this is to be the standard, then most of the presidents in the television era are ineligible. Indeed, the 1960 Presidential Debates are immortalized based on the simple fact that the introduction of television altered the perception of the two candidates’ performances. Famously, those who listened on the radio believed that Nixon won, while those who watched on television believed Kennedy was more effective. Kennedy was the more visually appealing of the two, standing calm and assured, while Nixon famously looked a sweating mountain of nerves.

According to the standard now being imposed by the left, Kennedy’s superior charisma and charm should have been taken into account by the Electoral College, especially given the razor thin margin of his victory. Subsequent presidents in the TV era, from Reagan, to Bill Clinton, and even President Obama won, in part, on the strength of their charm, natural persuasion and ability to relate to people. They all displayed ‘talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,’ because it is a successful, almost necessary tactic in an era so influenced by television.

On the whole, this point is a non-starter, at all levels. Vox continues:

The second goal was to stop foreign interference in election. In the founding period, the framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” He said that the college would “Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention” from the electors.

There is slightly more to this point, as I’ve discussed above. However, nothing about the Russian hacking rises to the level of gaining ‘an improper ascendant in our councils.’ If anything fits that bill, it would be the behind closed doors declaration of Hilary Clinton to international bankers that her dream was to establish a ‘hemispheric common market’ across North America, that would benefit globalist interest. It would be the Uranium One deal Clinton help broker with, you guessed it, Russia, as Secretary of State.

These are the sorts of things consistent with foreign entities looking to install a puppet as opposed to a relatively mundane action like a data leak. More from Vox:

The third goal was to prevent poor administration of government. This is a less well-known purpose of the Electoral College, but it is again expressly discussed in Federalist No. 68. Hamilton wrote that “the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration,” and for that reason, he said, the electors should be “able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration.”

Vox claimed that Trump had violated this goal because of his popular vote defeat, but that certainly isn’t evidence of anything. In fact the Electoral College exists precisely to prevent the majority vote from potentially harming the nation as a whole. Given that the majority voted against Trump, and thus against the rule of law to favor the nebulous concept of ‘racism’ as it is defined in 2016, the Electoral College worked exactly as it should have on November 8.

So while it is within the rights of the Electors to cast their votes in a manner that would deny Trump the presidency, the threat to the republic that is bandied as the reason for doing so does not exist. Trump is not a demagogue or foreign puppet and has not exhibited a stark inability to execute a good administration. The only ones who truly believe this are leftists and globalist Republicans, who collectively find Trump to be objectionable.

The grounds on which they have been objecting to Trump are the extension of a concept I’ve repeated over the latter stages of the election; that is the idea that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and so on are the gravest of societal sins while simultaneously being near ubiquitous in modern society. From the vantage point of this current cultural milieu, Trump is an illegitimate president, owing to his supposed racism and xenophobia.

Therefore, from this vantage point, looking to the Constitution for guidance, and encouraging the Electors to reject Trump is a legitimate course of action. More from Vox:

Modern-day conservatives favor so-called “originalist” understandings of the Constitution. They look to history and to the original texts of our founding documents for guidance. Recent decades have seen the invocation of original constitutional institutions to address present concerns, such as when the Rehnquist Court struck down Congressional laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Gun-Free School Zones Act on the grounds that they violated an originalist understanding of the Commerce Clause.

Whether or not you agree with such decisions, they establish the broad-spectrum appeal of our constitutional institutions — particularly in times of crisis. “Make America great again” is a clever marketing slogan. But our real greatness depends on employing our institutions and values to protect our republic from those who might prey on us.

This is written without a hint of irony, given the general leftist aversion to ‘originalist’ interpretation of Constitutional texts. Just in the last year or two they belittled the originalist opposition to gay marriage laws and Obamacare. Thus, their sudden sprint into the bosom of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison is tinged with hypocrisy.

As is Election Trutherism in general, given the fact that before the election Trump was hailed a threat to the 240 year republic for merely stating that he would wait to confirm the legitimacy of the election result rather than blindly accepting it. Now that Trump has won, the same factions which decried him are not accepting the election results, owing to their disagreements with Trump’s politics wrapped in the veneer of foreign meddling.

Had the shoe been on the other foot, there would have been calls for Trump’s arrest for disrupting the ‘peaceful transition of power’ in the way the leftists are doing to Trump.

Trump is a threat because his flouting Politically Correct cultural norms threatens the source of power that leftists have used to wield their influence on society. By establishing their opinions on social issues as the moral ones, mere disagreements are thus immoral, and therefore their disruptions become justified. Of course their views are conjecture, and nothing more.

Despite the jittering protestations of the likes of Keith Olberman, in a free and fair election, Donald Trump won 306 Electoral College votes, and thus the Presidency. None of the contingencies which should prompt the Electors to intervene exist. Even if the Electors chose to overturn the electoral vote on Monday, the decision would go to the House of Representatives, who would most likely elect Trump.

Conclusion

The entire episode is part of the drive to de-legitimize the Trump presidency. It is an attempt for leftists to deny responsibility for their loss, despite having the deck stacked in its favor. In crying foul, they give themselves an out. The drudges across the political establishment, from media pundits and columnists, to polling companies, to campaign advisers, lobbyists and other insiders, all rely on the status quo for their daily bread. That they completely misread Trump’s candidacy and the American electorate, even well after the election has ended, indicates that their usefulness is over.

Unless the election was literally stolen, swindled from under their noses. In this case, it wasn’t their fault. Their world view, their reading of current events, their prescriptions for the future were actually correct; it was unforeseen injustice which got in their way. It’s incredibly self-serving.

It is also incredibly encouraging to those of us who were on The Right Side Of History the entire time. Because to us, these flare-ups and meltdowns emanating from the left confirm that they have no wish to change. They have no wish to stop trying to foist their delusions of equality and social justice on the rest of the public, through the ‘everything and everyone is racist’ mode of argument. A mode of argument which, had just received a resounding defeat in the marketplace of ideas, as evidenced by the election results, and the growing influence of internet culture.

So let the leftists continue down this line for as long as they wish. Their losses will accrue accordingly.

Trump’s Greatest Challenge

…will be restoring the American economic machine to its former glory. To the extent he is able to achieve this, a lot of ills that may crop up elsewhere may be forgiven. Trump’s economic progress will be especially important from a political sense given the fact that Trump is the ‘change’ candidate. He ran, and was elected on a promise to shift away from the status quo in all aspects. Should the Trump economic doctrine fail, it will poison the anti-status quo rhetoric which won him the presidency for decades to come. It will potentially open the door for a complete and total return to power for the ‘establishment’ forces in a way that may be more damaging than if Hillary Clinton had won instead. That underscores how important it is for Trump to get the economics right.

As I write this, we are in the midst of a post-election victory haze which has seen the stock market make new highs virtually on a daily basis. Stock in commodities and manufacturing have risen by upwards of 50%. Trump himself has lauded the reaction in stocks since November 8 as a validation of his election.

In some ways he is correct. Should he enact his policies, especially the cutting of corporate taxes and reducing regulations, the business environment in this country will improve, which will lead to greater profitability and thus higher stock valuations.

The issue is that the market correctly assigning higher stock valuations to publicly traded companies is happening in an environment in which these valuations were already in the realm of the absurd. Indeed, Trump himself lamented the fact that the stock market was in a giant bubble on the campaign trail, calling it a ‘false’ stock market. Now that he has won, and stock prices have rocketed even higher, Trump is being inconsistent in his praise for what can only be described as the bubble getting even more absurd.

What has driven this bubble to its current heights has been the torrent of debt unleashed on the economy over the last 7+ years. This debt, in turn was facilitated by the depressing of interest rates to levels not seen in the history of the developed world, for nearly a decade, without interruption. Sticking with the United States, the Federal Reserve quintupled the size of its balance sheet, which enabled the totality of credit outstanding to continue to expand, in the manner it has done for the better part of four decades.

The result has been the restoration of the 2008 bubble, the popping of which led to so much destruction. What is important to note is that this bubble, like all bubbles, will pop. The only question is the needle which pricks it. It very well might be the Federal Reserve, which is set to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. It might be the plunging of the economy into a full blown recession, which is a natural part of economic cycles, but truly devastating when a bubble has been the foundation of the preceding period of growth.

Regardless of how it starts, the fact is that one peach of a smash is inevitable. This is because of the fact that as it currently stands, the US economy employs a debt driven consumer spending model as its method for achieving economic growth. This sort of model relies on constantly expanding debt, and constantly rising prices. These are two facets which are unable to endure indefinitely, much in the same way it is impossible for a human being to naturally propel oneself through the air indefinitely without gravity asserting itself at some point. From an earlier piece I wrote on the subject:

At some point, markets can’t support prices at the high levels producers need to set, which in turn leads to prices falling, profits falling, trouble servicing debts, liquidations, and layoffs. Yet, the solution presented by mainstream economics is to guide prices higher again.

All actors in the economy, from the government, to households to business are currently over-indebted.

As a result we are getting closer to the point when there will be no one left to take on the new debt required to push prices ever higher, in order to keep the ‘growth’ going. As this become more and more apparent, prices will start to fall, loans will become bad, bankruptcies will rise, and all the rest of it. Then the political game truly begins.

The economic carnage will be universally blamed on Trump, and it will not be a difficult story to sell. The surface level thinking will show that the economy was ‘fine’ under Obama, with rising stock prices, rising GDP, home prices and employment levels, a reduction in the deficit and so on. The fact that these metrics are superficial, and easily gamed by the cheap money which will have evaporated in the downturn will be overlooked.

It is at this point that the most pivotal moment in Trump’s presidency will arrive. He will have to choose between attempts at reflating the burst bubble, and allowing market forces to play out, and then rebuilding on the new landscape that forms thereafter.

The standard politician has always taken the former route. It is the route of political expedience, the route of slavish devotion to abstract metrics such as GDP. The last two administrations have done exactly that. In the wake of burst Internet and Housing bubbles, the Bush and Obama administrations respectively, in conjunction with the Greenspan and Bernanke Federal Reserves ‘stimulated’ the economy via a lowering of interest rates and dramatic increases of debt. The debt taken on under the Bush administration equaled that of the cumulative debt of every president prior to him. Eight years on, President Obama matched that dubious achievement.

The consequence of allowing market forces to run their course would have been catastrophic, in fairness. This is largely because the multi decade advance of asset prices was also the savings vehicle for many in the Baby Boom generation. For decades, they had not had to build real, legitimate savings because asset prices were always rising. When the time came to retire, conventional wisdom held, it was simply a matter of selling the assets and living happily ever after. That all changed when the bubbles burst, particularly in 2008. For many Boomers, their retirement nest egg had been wiped away, or at least severely diminished, just at the very moment they needed it.

The actions of world governments and central banks in attempt to reflate the bubble was in some sense a refusal by the Boomer generation to accept their mistake, demanding that economic gravity be defied indefinitely until they were made whole again.

These actions were able to ‘fix’ the problem in the short run, but are fundamentally inadequate for the long term. Indeed there has been positive talk about home prices which are nominally flirting with 2008 bubble levels. At some point there will again be ‘too much debt,’ and the whole system will be under pressure once more. The fact that asset prices have been engineered higher for the benefit of Boomers means that these very assets will be increasingly out of reach for a younger generation which itself is overburdened by student debt the Boomers never dealt with when they were young.

This will necessitate still further debt and money printing to enable the younger generation to purchase assets from Boomers at these stratospheric levels, in order for them to retire.

This paradigm is the equivalent of fixing the negative symptoms of a drug withdrawal with a higher dose of the drug. I sets in motion a cycle in which the only conclusion is either an overdose or the mother of all withdrawals.

The correct solution is to endure the withdrawals, no matter how bad they are, because they will still be better than a certain overdose. In the context of the current economic situation, that means allowing the gaggle of bad debt which hangs around the neck of the economy like an albatross, to be purged from the system.

Trump should understand this scenario well – for it mirrors the situation he was in personally during the early 1990s. Having overextended himself in the late 80s, he was in a fair bit of trouble, to put it mildly, when the market turned. This is all well documented, but Trump’s Comeback would not have been possible without a renegotiation with his creditors. This allowed Trump to survive without having to sell the assets which he had accumulated to that point, and set the stage for him to grow his empire not only to far greater heights, but with a far greater foundation which offered a substantial margin of safety.

The United States as a whole is need of something similar happening. I suspect, on some level, Trump is aware of the nastiness which might be involved. Back in May, he revealed as much when he suggested that the United States could simply renegotiate its debt to alleviate its problems. This set off a firestorm in the media, which posited that Trump would be threatening the pristine credit history of the US government, which had always honored its debts.

That is patently untrue, but the real cause for alarm comes from the fact that the bond market, and in turn all markets, rest on the fundamental idea that it is true. That is, US government debt is a 100% certainty to be paid on time and in full. As such, for Trump to suggest that the debt could be ‘renegotiated’ would upend world markets.

The premise from which this potential turmoil originates from is faulty however. The US does pay its debts on time, but owing to money printing exercises, it has not necessarily been paying them in full. Paying debts with printed money is to pay in a currency that is worth less than when it was borrowed. In theory, the interest rate should square the difference, but given that interest rates have been held artificially low by the Federal Reserve, a real case can be made that America’s creditors have already had involuntary renegotiations with America, which has been implicitly defaulting on its debt for years now.

What Trump mentioned in May was an explicit default. In that event, the tumult would be extraordinary, with interest rates rising precipitously, prices falling precipitously, and a temporary state of near depression ensuing, perhaps worldwide. Yet it would be the right thing to do.

The current game of kicking the can down the road and hoping for economic miracles has not worked. Consider that in the last two presidencies, each has had to double the national debt and keep interest rates at historic lows merely to maintain a period of growth with had nothing to show for it but stratospheric asset prices and a war torn planet. In the meantime wages have stagnated, home ownership has dropped, labor force participation has dropped, high paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low paying service sector jobs, and only those over the age of 55 have seen a net increase in employment.

This is the paradigm which the Keynesian academics, global central bankers and short term-ist politicians believe justifies the doubling the debt every 8 years to preserve.

In rejecting that prescription, Trump would put America in the position he himself was in in those early 1990s days, when he would tell himself repeatedly, ‘survive til 95. Survive til 95.’ It was at that point he figured that he would be able to have a proper foundation to work from, and that sustainable growth could begin.

The short term carnage which would result would no doubt be pounced on by a leftist media which will have been constantly begging for him to fail. There would be no end of horror stories describing the bankruptcies, foreclosures, layoffs, business closings and so on that would descend upon an a economy ridding itself of bad debts. These unfortunate occurrences would then be used to bolster the leftist line that Trumpism generally, with its America Fist, anti-globalist bent is a proven failure, with a view to then restoring the globalist, politically correct politics it was after all along.

Trump’s messaging  in the face of such an onslaught will have to involve the explicit illustration of our bubble-crash-new bubble cycle, and the framing of our choices as I’ve outlined.

It will be a truly Herculean task, merely because the size of the bubble is such that even the most modest worker will be involved owing to the fact he or she probably has a 401K. It will be difficult for the truism that all long term gains require short term sacrifice to gain traction when that sacrifice comes in the shape of a declining 401K or home price.

Indeed, we live in a culture which has been conditioned to crave instant gratification. The idea of saving and investing, and not seeing the fruits of that saving until years in the future is increasingly an alien concept. To impose a necessary, but painful economic downturn will be potentially suicidal to Trump’s political career, but a necessary component to a sustainable, longer term recovery.

It is because of this that there will be a strong temptation for Trump to do as his predecessors did, and to try and restart the bubble machine. However, as I’ve made clear here, it is the wrong answer. As I’ve mentioned before, I suspect that Trump does know the right answer. Indeed, his campaign was centered on having the ‘right answers’ in other areas such as immigration and foreign policy.

In these arenas his anti-status quo approach is correct. The same is true of the economy, and more specifically the debt driven consumer spending model of growth that currently drives it. That is the status quo. That has led to failure. That needs to go. Trump’s task, if he really is to go down as a great president, will be to destroy the bubble-crash-bubble paradigm and free an US economic machine, now running on savings and investment instead of cheap credit, to start once again, all the while holding the hand of a skittish public through the transition.

Election Post-Mortem: Why Trump Won And Where We Go From Here

The election is now over, and Donald Trump is the new President of the United States. I can’t say I’m surprised, I’ve been writing about Trump’s chances for about 8 months on this blog, and have been in the Trump camp since August of 2015. To me, he was always the candidate with the winning hand, and his victory was only dependent on whether he played the cards correctly.

The same can’t be said of most of the public, particularly the media and the political commentariat. Those entities have been in complete shock in the aftermath of the election. There are countless ‘How did this happen?’ style articles. I’m going to address that, and to the extent that one fails to grasp what I write here is the extent to which that individual will be lost and confused in the coming years, unable to come to terms with some of the trends which are afoot in the Western world.

The underlying theme of Trump’s victory is the breakdown of the concept that the right legislation/mandate from central authorities can cure the world’s ills. In the post World War 2 West, this concept has permeated virtually all areas of public life.

Economically, perceived ills like recessions and falling prices are believed to be ‘curable’ if central banks pursue lower interest rates and expanding the money supply. Socially, ills such as racism, sexism, homophobia and so on can be cured via flooding the culture with positive messages about diversity and tolerance. Militarily, the ills of other nations not conforming to American hegemony can be cured by imposing economic sanctions, or starting a war.

It’s highly unlikely that the average Trump voter understood that concept in the precise way I’ve described, but those voters definitely did feel the consequences. Economically, average people went from being able to afford a middle class ‘American dream’ lifestyle on one income, while saving for retirement, to needing two incomes, plus multiple credit cards to afford the same lifestyle. All of this was leading to rising prices, stagnant wages, enormous debt, and a realization that retirement may never come.

Culturally, the domination of identity politics has divided the country in innumerable ways. When individuals elevate their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation to a level above everything else as the most important thing, you set the stage for nothing but infighting. The commonalities of culture and a singular nation-state are cast aside in favor of a fluid totem pole of victimhood which is constantly changing.

Average people were getting fed up having to determine which of a gay Hispanic male or a white ‘gender fluid’ person was in the more privileged situation and thus more deserving of ostracism. They were tired of being force fed leftist viewpoints in television, movies, music and even sports. When even voicing disagreement with the leftist narrative at work or on social media can become grounds for losing one’s job, an environment ripe for backlash is created.

On the military front,the average person may or may not have known someone who had been sent off to fight in one of America’s many post WW2 excursions, but the effects were felt in other ways. Namely the wastefulness involved in spending millions on fighter jets which drop bombs worth a few hundred thousand dollars on an opposition hanging off the beds of 1990s Toyota pickup trucks wielding machine guns most likely also paid for with American dollars. All of this, while the average person embarks on a vehicular slalom course in order to avoid potholes on the daily commute.

Beyond this, our most recent adventure in Syria, initiated by Hillary Clinton in her Secretary of State days, was leading us into an inevitable war with the Russians, given Clinton’s unequivocal declaration that a No Fly Zone over the country was her aim.

 

Trump’s victory conveyed the public’s strong disappointment with these trends, if not an outright repudiation of them entirely. Change was always coming given the unsustainable nature of those trends, and in this election, Trump was the change candidate.

The immediate reaction to the election results was one of unrest. There have been riots, calls for the Electoral College to be scrapped, stress-induced delays for exam taking at universities, and an outpouring of psychiatric advice to those beset  by depression over the result.

During the campaign, Hillary Clinton often quoted Maya Angelou, saying that ‘when someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ That sentiment applies now to the leftists, who have once again shown us who they are in the reaction to Trump’s victory.

Leftists constantly made Trump out to be an authoritarian fascist during the campaign. Yet post election, they revealed themselves to be…authoritarian fascists. The supposed authoritarian tendencies of Trump and his supporters in their support of traditionalism are actually more applicable to leftists and their support of a Cultural Marxism which requires a total acceptance to avoid social ostracism. That the mere display of resistance to leftist ideas, delivered through the ballot box, can result in riots and the threat of further violence, death and potential revolution, is indicative of where the true fascistic forces emanate from in 2016.

Furthermore, there is something especially hypocritical about a group of individuals who want to eviscerate the second amendment, and view the term ‘states rights’ to be a racist dogwhistle, to then suddenly be prepared to go full Confederate South and agitate for a Civil War 2.0.  A quick perusal of the results of the election by county suggests they wouldn’t fare well.

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As you can see, the vast majority of the US by landmass voted Trump. In addition, the Clinton areas are areas which are less gun enthusiast, hunting culture, and militiamen and more gang culture and drug related violence, if we’re being truly honest. Taking the fight from big cities full of skyscrapers to the Great American Outdoors can only be a recipe for a swift and complete defeat.

That map also brings me to the Electoral College. It looks like Clinton may have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College vote, which has led to some viewing the result as unjust and therefore overturned. This displays a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the basic tenets of the United States. The US is not a straight democracy, but a constitutional republic. The system was intentionally set up to work the way it did, in that a handful of urban metropolises such as NYC, LA, Chicago and San Francisco don’t decide how the rest of the country should live.

The founding fathers understood perfectly the downsides of a straight democracy, and we should be thankful they set up the system the way they did. The call to scrap this basic tenet of America is a microcosm of the idea put forth by contemporary leftists that we should remove traditionalism in general.  This is exactly the sort of trend that prompted Americans to vote against Clinton.

In addition, the spike in mental breakdowns and general feeling of fear from leftists over the result not going their way is undoubtedly a sign that it was probably a good idea not to have such people in charge in the first place. On top of this, the display by these leftists are coming on the back of months and months of calling Donald Trump unhinged and thin skinned.

In threatening violence over a decision made by The People, and calling for banning a uniquely American aspect of government, leftists have shown that the charges of authoritarian fascism, anti-Americanism and questionable mental fortitude against Trump and his supporters have merely been a giant projection. If indeed Trump represents hate, why aren’t they showing the love they say will trump that hate? If Trump is evil and will cause families to break apart with his immigration plan, why do they respond with the pro-abortion (and thus anti-family formation) slogan ‘my body, my choice’ at demonstrations? Hypocrisy at its finest.

All of this has been aided and abetted by a mainstream media which has not only not seen and not understood the Trump phenomenon, right up until the very last hour, but has been the main megaphone blaring failed propaganda far and wide.

If you spend month after month after month hammering the idea that one candidate is Hitler reincarnated, and that candidate wins, the millions who have been duped by that message will unsurprisingly be upset, perhaps upset enough to riot. However, none of that actually makes that candidate Hitler.

A lot of the blame for the post election violence can be blamed on the media for its constant caricaturization of Trump, using hysteria to manipulate voters who perhaps tangentially paid attention to the election and thus for whom the mainstream media was the main source of information.

What was different about this election compared to others was the fact that social media and the internet generally gave the public access to all of the source material in ways never seen before. You can find every single Trump speech on Youtube, you can find analysis of them from the point of view of every single part of the political spectrum. This meant that one could directly compare the source material to the heavily distorted version the media put forth. To the extent I tuned into the mainstream media during this cycle, it was merely to ascertain how far they were distorting the truth from the source material everyone had access to.

This is why so many voted for Trump despite the media declaring he was Hitler non-stop. I’ve said several times on this blog that ultimately the media would protest too much and overplay its hand with respect to Trump being the ultimate evil. The media’s comparisons to evil would eventually force it into a box in which the label of Trump as evil be labeling the objective good in Trump’s doctrine as evil. The clearest example of this is Trump’s immigration plan, which is mostly already on the books as US law. Yet the media was relentless in calling Trump a racist and xenophobe for it, which meant that basic US law which mirrors laws in most other nations, is also racist and xenophobic. That put the media, and Clinton by extension in the position of being incredibly unreasonable.

In the end, Trump means fundamental change. It is needed, because the path we were on was unsustainable. An economy based on unlimited credit and printed money can’t survive. A society which doesn’t have a common culture, language, values and tradition is a society which has no culture. A country which picks fights with everyone not on board with its unchallenged hegemony will soon pick the wrong fight.

Trump’s victory is ultimately it is an acknowledgement that though there are many positives in society, things are nonetheless trending in the wrong direction and must be remedied. What surprises me is that this acknowledgement is being made before a sort of terminal crisis forces the issue. That is rare thing, because for most people, the present comfort acts as a deterrent to change, even if it was certain beforehand that the current path led to ruin. Voluntarily inflicting upon oneself the discomforts of change is not high on the agendas of most people, yet it is exactly what is required to achieve real progress.

Machiavelli captured this idea perfectly in The Prince:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.

Trump will face a torrent of ‘I told you so’ from all angles, particularly the media, every time his system-disturbing moves cause a problem on the surface. Most of these problems will merely be the gears of change grinding past each other. Destroying the political old order dominated by short term thinking and political expedience means taking lumps in the short run for longer term gain. Trump had plenty of experience absorbing such blows during his campaign. Indeed, Trump’s biggest hurdle in affecting real change will be quelling the wails of those who become uneasy over the mid flight turbulence.

Putting A Trump Vote In Its Proper Context

“In a mad world, only the mad are sane.”
Akira Kurosawa

 

As the election draws near, the mere fact that Trump has more than a tangible chance of winning has several in the commentariat a little unnerved. This is shown by the bevy of op-eds and columns written in recent days and weeks which all conveyed a similar point: Please, America, don’t vote Trump – We value stability more than anything else.

Alan Dershowitz, a prominent expert on the law and Harvard Law professor crystallized this sentiment this morning, speaking with Maria Bartiromo, saying:

Let me tell you why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton: We’re living in a world of extremes, the right is getting stronger, the left is getting stronger, the center is weakening. We need a centrist president to stabilize the world, Hillary Clinton promises more in terms of being a stabilizing force than Donald Trump.

On the surface, this sounds reasonable. But Dershowitz showed exactly why it isn’t less than a minute later, when he said:

Look, the problem in American politics is that donors always get special treatment – from Republicans and Democrats. Pay to play is unfortunately a sickness within the American political system, equally applicable to republicans and democrats. Let’s end that – let’s strengthen the laws, let’s de-politicize the laws.

In admitting the politics of the status quo is broken, Dershowitz renders his support for Clinton, on the basis of her ‘stability,’ an endorsement of a broken political world. This is a world which has bestowed upon Clinton a $250 million fortune, incredible power, and a shot at being the first woman to be president of the United States, forever etching her name in history. Does Dershowitz, or anyone else for that matter, really think that Hillary Clinton, having been forged in that broken political world, is going to change it in any material way? Considering her now Wikileaks-revealed duplicity vis-a-vis her public statements and those given privately to the corporate donors which back her, the idea of her being a change agent stretches credulity, to put it mildly.

And make no mistake – change is needed. The political status quo has overseen America’s slide into over-indebtedness, declining educational standards, endless war and destruction in foreign lands, record poverty levels, multi decade lows in labor force participation, and even record lows in fertility.

Indeed, America as it stands today is merely a nominal representation of the colonial experiment which commenced just over 240 years ago. It could be said that the genesis of America as a country was the biggest tax revolt in human history, yet today the populace will at the most grumble angrily to themselves as they pay ever higher taxes on an annual basis.

In its early days, America debated the merits of a monetary system based on gold and silver versus central banking and fiat currency. After some trial and error, it settled on the former. Today’s American economy now relies on the latter, to such an extent that the mere differences in language used from one public statement to the next are said to have big implications on the fate of our economy.

The Federal Government has grown to such an extent that the population as a whole expects certain things from it. This, in comparison to a Federal Government which was once small, and stayed mostly out of the way.

It is telling that quickest way to be laughed out of a ‘serious’ political conversation in 2016 is to seriously advocate an abolition of the federal income tax, a return to the gold standard, and a vastly smaller government that balances its budget, let alone all of the above. As these things were once part of the formative fabric of America, it is fair to say that we currently live in a sort of Post-America.

This is further buttressed by the fact that the Constitution has been treated as toilet paper for a very long time now. Exactly how long that is depends on the individual, but one can cite many occurrences which marked the waning influence of the Constitution. The Civil War, 16th Amendment, Federal Reserve Act, the New Deal, Executive Order 6102, the 1971 closing of the gold window, the Patriot Act, and the Affordable Care Act, among others, are all examples of the government riding roughshod over the Constitution.

I am not going to scrutinize the merits of each individual instance. I only bring them up to highlight the fact that going by strict Constitutional originalism, the document has been violated, several times, and well before June 16, 2015, the day Trump’s campaign began. In other words, from the perspective of the principles underpinning America’s birth, and continuing on through its ascent to world power, America as it currently stands is a Mad World.

Yet it is precisely those already-departed American principles, wrapped in platitudes about our 240 year Republic and its democratic heritage, that many commentators cite when declaring Trump to be the most dangerous political force in our lifetime. Consider this from David Frum:

The lesson Trump has taught is not only that certain Republican dogmas have passed out of date, but that American democracy itself is much more vulnerable than anyone would have believed only 24 months ago. Incredibly, a country that—through wars and depression—so magnificently resisted the authoritarian temptations of the mid-20th century has half-yielded to a more farcical version of that same threat without any of the same excuse. The hungry and houseless Americans of the Great Depression sustained a constitutional republic. How shameful that the Americans of today—so vastly better off in so many ways, despite their undoubted problems—have done so much less well.

 

I have no illusions about Hillary Clinton. I expect policies that will seem to me at best counter-productive, at worst actively harmful. America needs more private-market competition in healthcare, not less; lighter regulation of enterprise, not heavier; reduced immigration, not expanded; lower taxes, not higher. On almost every domestic issue, I stand on one side; she stands on the other. I do not imagine that she will meet me, or those who think like me, anywhere within a country mile of half-way.

Not only is it true that America has eschewed its strict Constitutional Republic roots, it is not true that America successfully avoided the authoritarian temptations of the 20th century. Indeed, the America that entered the fights with the Axis dictatorships and then communism looked very different to the America that came out of them. Karl Marx’s 10 planks have been more or less instituted in America. America’s Authoritarianism, however is of a softer variety. While it doesn’t have a definitive figurehead in the shape of Mussolini or Hitler, it does have a definitive ideology spearheading it: the worship of nebulous concepts such as Equalism, Diversity and Fairness.

The most heinous crimes in today’s society are that of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and so on. Transgressors are drawn out into the public square for admonishment via social ostracism. You could even lose your job over an ‘offensive’ post on Facebook or Twitter.

The rub is that the threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior is seemingly lowered by the day. The march to describe every slight as Hate Speech increasingly encroaches on that traditional American right of free speech. With respect to the election, and Trump in particular, even being neutral on his positions could get one in hot water.

That’s what happened to Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic series. According to this Washington Post piece, Adams’ once lucrative speaking engagements and licensing deals have dried up, owing to his attempts to explain to the public why Trump’s campaigning has been effective, from the perspective of well known Persuasion techniques. He has become a pariah for this.

In our Mad World of Political Correctness and over-sensitivity, this is just. For there can be no justification for things we don’t agree with, no matter how rational they are. More specifically, nothing can be allowed to impede the leftward march from America to Tumblr: The Country, and anyone who dares stand in the way will be run over.

clinton-machine-trump-flag-ben-garrison_orig

Indeed, Donald Trump’s real sin has been his refusal to give in to the Oversensitive Mob and give it what it wants – an acknowledgement of their frivolous charges of racism and sexism – preferably via some sort of tear-laden press conference at the mercy of the same journalists who regularly excoriate him in their columns.

What is particularly interesting about Frum is that he lists several things which in his view would be good for America. All of these things line up with what Trump plans to do, even though Frum doesn’t give him credit for that. The problem for the likes of Frum is that Trump is seemingly too mean in the way he is going about his campaigning.

What this simplistic analysis misses is a lot of the outrage generated by Trump has been intentional – a ploy to draw attention to his ideas. Trump is nothing if not a shrewd marketer and astute media manipulator. He writes about it in his books, and has had 40 years of experience with the media under his belt.

Many have been in the media have been critical of the media itself for giving him so much attention, thereby legitimizing him. You’ll often see a statistic bandied about that suggests that Trump has been given $2 billion in free exposure. The reality is that Trump earned that exposure through his media exploits of well over three decades. When Trump announced his candidacy, he instantly had 100% name recognition. News agencies really couldn’t ignore him, because they’ve never ignored him. Trump is a ratings goldmine – and media corporations live on ratings.

To be sure, the media has countered by covering him negatively, to the tune of 90% of the time according to a recent study. This has both revealed the inherent bias the mainstream media has as well as confirmed the reason why Trump campaigned the way he has. His message is an anathema to a leftist media, and as such the only way to get his message across was to wrap it in a tactical outrage.

Recall the Star of David ‘controversy’ from this summer. It started with Trump re-tweeting this image:

showimage

The media fell over themselves to use this image as evidence of Trump being an Anti-Semite, owing to the fact that the ‘Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!’ text is in an apparent Star of David.

Of course that star could easily be a sheriff star, or a normal star you would find in Clip Art. Yet the media frothed at the mouth, pushing this story for almost a week.

This meant that all over TV and the internet, this image was shown, an image which conveys a message that Hillary Clinton is a criminal.

Through enshrouding his real messages in a layer of outrage, knowing a lapdog media would spread it far and wide for him, Trump has done nothing more than display his penchant for good marketing and media manipulation.

Indeed, Trump’s initial foray into the campaign was controversial, perhaps still his most controversial episode to date. Yes, I’m referring to the moment when he ‘called all Mexicans rapists and drug dealers.’

That was the spin, and the perception that the media spread far and wide and is still used by man as a talking point to declare Trump a racist. What Trump actually did was say that a non-zero subset of those who entered the country illegally committed further crimes once in the country, and that it was a problem. His words were objectively true. However the way in which he said them cause untold outrage which reverberates to this day.

Consider the fact that Trump’s immigration ideas are now widely considered to be racist and xenophobic by most mainstream voices. However, a rational examination of his plan reveals that the vast majority of it is already codified into US law, including the wall. What Trump seemingly wants to add is a more vigorous application of the law in spots where it is currently halfheartedly applied, and in others where it is actively opposed, such as in the case of sanctuary cities.

The outrage Trump created was needed in order to call attention to an issue which has been largely neglected for many years now. If he hadn’t done it, the discussion would have been lost in the shuffle as it had been before. By raising the temperature so to speak, Trump has forced people into a box. To call Trump a racist and xenophobe for completely reasonable ideas is to explicitly advocate lawlessness. That is precisely what a Mad World does, thus to be considered a madman by that world, as Trump is, is tantamount to being the sensible one.

In a similar vein, Trump has been accused of dividing the country. However, it not Trump, but identity politics which has divided the country. In modern America, there is an increasing trend for Americans to define themselves as such, but with a prefix attached. African-American, Muslim-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and so on. Race, class, religion, and sexual orientation are the lines along which the population is increasingly split.

This ground was tread long before Trump’s candidacy. LBJ may not have said that he’d ‘have those N*****s voting Democrat for the next 200 years,’ but he might as well have said it, given that politics has increasingly devolved to pandering to the varying subgroups in America. The resulting atmosphere is one in which your skin color, gender or sexual orientation becomes your uniform, and it is almost your duty to fight for your team lest you be called a traitor.

Trump’s message is simple: America First. In recent rallies, he has consistently conveyed the idea of Americans ‘working together as one people, under one God, saluting one flag.’ Trump has immediately taken some heat for this, particularly the ‘one God’ part, with critics citing this as evidence Trump doesn’t understand the separation of Church and State, or that it intimates a sort of exclusion for nonbelievers.

This interpretation is of course, nonsense. His words are no different to politicians proclaiming ‘God Bless America’ at the end of speeches. The ‘God’ in both instances is open to interpretation, with the listener free to insert the deity of choice to personalize the line. But recall, we’re living in a Mad World, and as such these minor quibbles are worth vast overreactions.

The interesting thing is that Trump’s words are objectively unifying. America First as a concept should be something that everyone can buy into, because individual identity characteristics don’t preclude participation in America as a concept, at least in theory.

But, again we live in a Mad Clown World, a world in which people can’t let go of Identity, because doing so would forfeit a chance at a slice of the bounty collected by grievances and outrage. It is thus the culture as a whole which has already divided itself, not wishing to unite as one people. It is the culture itself which sees little wrong with immigrants hoisting their home flags on American soil, but increasingly views the stars and stripes as an offensive symbol.

With that as a backdrop, Trump is indeed mad. But that means he is sensible.

And what of morality? Many believe that the Billy Bush tape disqualifies Trump from the presidency. The bottom line on this is that there have been several equally vulgar individuals to occupy the role, including Bill Clinton, who had assistance from one Hillary Clinton in concealing the vulgarity. If we’re being truly honest, neither candidate is clean here.

Furthermore, the culture as a whole is in no state to pass judgement on this score. I chuckled repeatedly watching the torrent of outrage and concern for the youth of America having been exposed to Trump’s words, when the likes of Miley Cyrus trotting around stages performing topless with inflatable male genitalia protruding from her crotch likely elicits little more than a shrug of the shoulders for those same people.

This hypocrisy is mirrored in the perception of Trump as unhinged, as it is pertains to foreign policy. And before I go on, a symptom of the Mad Clown World is evident in the fact that coverage of Trump’s Billy Bush moment dwarfed that of an analysis of foreign policy issues, in an age when nuclear capable world powers are positioning themselves for conflict. Sex sells, I get it, but to upstage potential nuclear war with Russia? I’d call that a bit Mad.

And on that subject, Trump is widely considered by your standard foreign policy expert to be dangerous. More frivolously, he is considered to be a national security risk because his flippant attitude may lead us to military conflict over his Twitter account, or something.

The reality is that these foreign policy experts, along with Hillary Clinton herself, have been responsible for nothing but failure for nigh on 50 years. From our excursions in Vietnam, to Kuwait, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, these status quo experts have done nothing but cause death and destruction across the globe, in the name of spreading Democracy.

It sounds like a great ideal to have, but ultimately, who are we as Americans to impose our way of life on the rest of the world? The interests of the average American, in America, haven’t been served by any of these adventures, for the most part. The only interest which has been served  is that of the Military Industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about this.

With respect to the current challenge that faces us, Syria, we face a choice of war or diplomacy. We are already fighting a proxy war against the Russians, who are assisting the Assad regime, who the US wants ousted. The official reason for this is Assad’s atrocious humanitarian record, but some suspect there is more to the story.

It involves the establishment of a natural gas pipeline, running from Qatar to Turkey, passing through Syria. The reason it is sought by the US is because such a pipeline would allow Western Europe an alternative to the Russian natural gas it currently consumes. The goal is to marginalize Russia economically, as punishment for its refusal to get with the EU/NATO program on many other issues.

It is hypothesized that Assad has denied this pipeline, out of allegiance to Russia, and as a result the US wants regime change in Syria. In response to being attacked, Assad has invited Russian forces to the country for assistance. This is where we stand now.

Hillary Clinton has been consistent in her stance that a No Fly Zone be placed over Syria, despite the only way one could be enacted would be through a declaration of war with Syria, and thus Russia. Clinton was explicitly asked about this again at the third debate a few weeks ago and was unequivocal in her response.

Make no mistake, a Hillary Clinton presidency is most likely the pretense to war with Russia, an opponent with nuclear capabilities. If the true reasoning behind the war is correct, the US would be risking nuclear war to establish a natural gas pipeline overseas. Yet, here at home, the US finds the idea of a pipeline running from Alberta to Texas, with no war required, to be untenable. That’s the status quo for you.

It is in this light that the criticism Trump gets for being ‘friendly with Putin’ needs to be examined. The reality is that the Russians don’t want war, as evidenced by the fact they did nothing when Turkey took down a Russian jet last year. Putin’s greatest sin is his refusal to bow to Western, and more specifically US hegemony in geopolitics and the world order. For that refusal to play ball, the US has tried to hit Russia economically, and it is continuing to do so with its efforts in Syria. It is playing with fire, however, as previously discussed.

Trump wants nothing to do with this, not because he is reckless, but because he correctly understands that the US has little business in directing foreign affairs in the manner it has done for decades. To the extent we already have entanglements, they must be dealt with, but in the future the goal of a Trump administration is seemingly to tamp down American Imperialism. It is too expensive, too deadly, and too historically negative in terms of the prospects for nations who pursue such expansive ambitions.

Once again, the Mad Man is sane.

This election is probably the most stark choice we’ve seen in a lifetime. It is in many ways a referendum on the constructs of the Post World War II West: Keynesian Economics, supranational unions such as the EU and NATO, the sexual revolution, central banking, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Media-Academia complex, among other things.

While Trump doesn’t explicitly repudiate all of these things, Hillary Clinton certainly would be a continuation of them. Furthermore, she would be a continuation of the status quo, a continuation of the cultural preference of Pretty Lies to Ugly Truths, a continuation of the political preference of short term expedience over long term thinking.

Even if one who is on the fence agrees with every word I’ve written thus far, a sheer, base reluctance to change will still stand in the way of pulling the lever for Trump. I completely understand that point of view. For many, the fact that the power grid still works, and we have access to our daily Starbucks means things aren’t so bad, and there is no need to ‘blow up’ the political system voluntarily.

This is akin to inheriting $100 million, blowing $98 million of it on the proverbial hookers and blow, and feeling relieved upon seeing the $2 million bank balance in a sober moment, that relief stemming from the understanding that you are still better off than 99.5% of the planet.

Unfortunately, that is us, as modern day Americans. We inherited a country from a generations of individuals who built it up into a machine which produced untold riches. With us at the wheel, we’ve been in party mode, adopting an ‘anything goes as long as it feels good’ mentality socially and a ‘spend anything – we can print the money later’ attitude when it comes to economics. That is unsustainable. It is our job to recognize that, and correct course before crisis hits.

Trump is indeed a bonafide Mad Man. But we live in a Mad World. Sanity in this context is a continued slide into the abyss, a continued swim by an unaware frog as the temperature creeps to 100 degrees C.

There’s still time to jump out of the pot.

Takeaways From the Third Debate

Here’s how I saw it:

Trump Won On Points, Clinton Won on Feels:

Trump was able to strike a happy medium between the first debate in which he was rather incoherent and defensive, and the second debate when he was on point but extremely aggressive. In the third debate, he was more ‘presidential,’ whatever that means. One of his biggest problems to date has been the fact that the uninitiated voter thinks he’s a crazy madman, so he had to convince those viewers that he could withstand attacks without blowing up. He did that, avoiding getting too deep into the weeds on side issues and was able to get a lot of points across firmly and effectively.

He was able to put Clinton on the defensive on several issues, such as the fact that she takes donations to the Clinton Foundation from countries like Saudi Arabia, which throws gays from rooftops and treat women poorly. He also brought up the James O’Keefe video in which DNC operatives were bragging about how they paid people to incite violence at Trump rallies. Clinton’s ‘dream’ of an open border for the hemisphere, as revealed through Wikileaks was also brought up.

In each instance, Clinton had no answer. She pivoted to blaming Russia, or outright ignoring the issue brought up. Her main avenue for scoring points on the night was through emotion. She tried it with abortion, with the typical politician tactic of telling a tale of how some random person from the campaign trail just happened to personify exactly the point wished to be made. She tried it with the use of the THINK OF THE CHILDREN angle with respect to both guns and Syria, and finally with the ‘this is not who we are’ cliche with respect to Trump’s supposed misogyny.

It listens well, but in the end it’s tired. Trump was able to bring new arguments into the fray which both bolstered his case and the case against Hillary Clinton. It still remains to be seen whether the public will see through the emotional manipulation of Clinton, however effective it may be in the moment.

Trump’s ‘Refusal’ to Accept the Result of The Election

Chris Wallace asked Trump (and not Clinton) whether he would accept the result of the election. He was also asked of it by Lester Holt at the first debate. This is a bit curious for reasons I’ll get into later. But Trump’s response is getting most of the play in the mainstream media today (H/T ZeroHedge):cvlboygxyaedl3s debate-4 debate-5 debate-1 debate-3

The media has gone apoplectic over the fact that Trump said that he’d keep us in ‘suspense,’ about how he would respond to the election results. Plenty of words were written and spoken last night about the GRAVE DAMAGE TRUMP HAD DONE TO A SANCTIMONIOUS PILLAR OF OUR 240 YEAR OLD REPUBLIC.

For a start such hyperbole and spewing of platitudes is hypocritical given the allegations that George Bush had stolen the 2000 and 2004 elections, which came from the same people who are today lambasting Trump. It was enough to make Joe Scarborough, hardly Trump’s greatest fan, laugh at the latest faux outrage:

The latest response to the ‘but Gore!’ argument from the left is now something along the lines of ‘but he accepted it!’ Yes, a month later, after it was brought to the Supreme Court. Why shouldn’t Trump be afforded that same level of skepticism if something fishy happens on election night?

That brings me to my next point, which is the James O’Keefe videos. In the last two weeks, the same leftists who are today extolling the virtues of American democracy and the sanctity of our free and fair elections have been caught on camera admitting that voter fraud is rampant, explaining step by step in detail how to perpetrate voter fraud without getting caught, and describing how to subvert democracy by inciting violence at opposition political rallies.

Robert Creamer, one of those involved in organizing those efforts, visited the White House over 340 times during President Obama’s two terms, according to White House records. Both Creamer, and Scott Foval, another one of the head honchos profiled in the O’Keefe videos, stepped down from their positions after they were exposed, a move that confirms the egregious nature of what is shown on the tapes.

In a sane world, there would be a massive investigation and this would be one of the political stories of the year. But who would look into it? The same Department of Justice which is headed by an Attorney General who secretly met with Bill Clinton in an airplane, days before a ruling was to be reached on whether his wife was to face charges? The same FBI which is headed by a Director who then verbally declared she had committed a crime but also stated there was no case? I doubt it.

The mere fact that Clinton is running for an office with the highest security clearance in the land, after provably mishandling classified information in a prior position in govenment, thus disqualifying her from access to such information ever again, is mind boggling. But thanks to the media, the DOJ and the FBI, the public has been conditioned to accept Clinton as a legitimate candidate.

In a similar vein, the constant media pushback of Trump’s assertions that the system is rigged (despite scores of prominent Democrats saying the same thing for years), and the watery-eyed appeals to the history of our 240 year Republic and its pristine elections, are potentially conditioning the public to accept what might ultimately be an illegitimate election result.

It’s not a stretch for Trump to be wary of shenanigans on election night, given everything discussed here, in addition the vociferous objections to things like voter ID and the removal of the dead from voter rolls, when the only conceivable objections to either of those things would be to commit fraud. As Scaborough said, those opposing Trump on this can bathe in the hypocrisy.

A Hillary Clinton Presidency = War With Russia

This is perhaps the most chilling, and important takeaway from the night, but it might get lost in the shuffle given the media hysteria discussed above.

The proxy war in Syria between the US and Russia has escalated in recent weeks and months, and last night Hillary Clinton reiterated her desire to impose a no-fly zone over the area, to ‘hasten the end of the conflict.’

This is in opposition to President Obama, who feels that such a move would entangle us deeper into the region, and in the face of concerns from Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that a no fly zone would mean war with Russia:

This was how Clinton outlined her support for the no fly zone:

A few things: Clinton noted her awareness of the ‘legitimate concerns’ of the President and the General Dunford. In fact as far back as 2013, she understood the fact that imposing a no-fly zone would create all sorts of problems and cause the deaths of scores of civilians. We know this, thanks to a Wikileaks release of her transcripts to Wall Street bankers (see page 66). Back in 2013, she said this, relating to a Syrian no-fly zone:

So we’re not as good as we used to be, but we still — we can still deliver, and we should have in my view been trying to do that so we would have better insight. But the idea that we would have like a no fly zone— Syria, of course, did have when it started the fourth biggest Army in the world. It had very sophisticated air defense systems. They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians. [ Speech to Goldman Sachs, 2013 IBD Ceo Annual Conference, 6/4/13]
So Hillary Clinton wants to do something – which by her admission requires at the very least the killing of ‘a lot of Syrians’ – in order to save lives.  She took the nonsensical logic a step further in that clip when she spoke of the refugees which are being displaced as a result of this civil war (which she started), and how she couldn’t just stand by watching as people got slaughtered:
I am not going to slam the door on women and children. That picture of that little 4 year boy in Aleppo, with the blood coming down his face, while he sat in an ambulance, is haunting.
Clinton is, in effect, justifying war with Russia, a nuclear power because of a humanitarian crisis created by US involvement which she led, and is using dead children as an emotional impetus to do it. Truly disturbing.

Furthermore, she believes a no fly zone, the establishment of which would lead to war, would then lead to diplomacy in which a deal could be struck. Even if this were true, how could one trust the bargaining skills of Clinton given her tenure at the State Department and her consistent failures in diplomacy with respect to the Russian reset, Libya, Egypt and more?

In the end, a vote for Clinton is a vote for war, potentially of the nuclear variety. It is shaping up to be just that simple. I’ll refer you back to the video above of General Dunford’s hearing. After he declares that a no-fly zone is tantamount to war, leaving the room in a momentary stunned silence, Senator John McCain can be heard grumbling in the background. He then takes over the discussion and angrily guilt trips Dunford for honestly answering the question he was asked, saying:

No, what he asked was should we have a no fly zone so we can protect these people form being slaughtered. That’s what he’s talking about, that’s what we’re all talking about.
Dunford immediately backs down and almost apologetically says that maybe we wouldn’t have to go to war after all. But the annoyance which McCain showed at the original answer was telling. It was as though he was upset that the real consequence of establishing a no fly zone was mentioned, by such an authoritative figure on the matter so as to leave no doubt. Note how he glibly knocks away such concerns about the no fly zone by enveloping it in humanitarian concerns, just as Clinton did last night.

It is thus ironic that Clinton has such support from leftists, despite her taking the same warmongering position as a notorious neocon warmonger. These are the same leftists who were up in arms during the Bush administration owing to the endless Middle East adventures the US embarked on. Hillary Clinton has done nothing but continue them as Secretary of State, and definitively promised to continue further last night.

Despite the fact these unnecessary adventures could directly result in nuclear war, these same leftists are not only standing behind Clinton, but have the audacity to declare that it is Trump who might get us into a war frivolously.

Clinton’s actual record of promoting just that, frivolous war, is apparently meaningless, because Donald Trump says mean things sometimes. It truly is a clown world we live in.

Final Thought

Not really a huge takeaway, but I was wrong in my debate preview about Chris Wallace. He did a good job last night, particularly compared to the moderators in the other debates. He was fair to both sides, and equally tough, which made for a substantive debate.

How this will play out on election night is to be seen, but from where I sit, the dynamic of the election is as follows: Trump is seemingly wearing a clown suit and speaking with helium gas, but what his actual words amount to the fact that two plus two is equal to four. Clinton speaks with professorial calmness and assuredness, but does so in relaying the argument that two plus two is equal to twenty-two.

It is up to the electorate to note this, and act accordingly.

The Great Unmasking

Last month, Donald Trump caused a stir in the economic world, with his analysis of the Federal Reserve and its monetary policy during an interview he did with CNBC.

In it, he was adamant that the zero interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve had created a ‘false stock market.’ This was after last week, in which he had said that the interest rate policy had created a ‘false economy.’ His reasoning for both was that the decisions were political in nature.

According to Trump, Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chair, was embarking on these policies in order to help President Obama, in order to make sure he ends his term with a positive economy.

Politics aside, the administration, and most left leaning economists have quick to point to the job numbers as a sign of the recovering health of the economy. The fact that the stock market has made fresh all time highs in 2016 has been used to tout the strength of the business community and commerce. Indeed, at a campaign rally last month, President Obama vociferously patted himself on the back for an economic job well done:

Janet Yellen, during her remarks explaining the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision on September 21, painted a rosy picture of the economy, repeatedly citing the employment figures along with household income increases as evidence.

It is my view that these data points – mainly the employment data, and the performance of the broad stock markets – are merely masks which give the perception of strength and improvement, while concealing a deteriorating reality underneath.

The Labor Market Mask

Let’s look at the employment data.

While it is true that the unemployment rate has come down to 5%, from about 10%:

Part of that is because the labor force participation rate has declined throughout President Obama’s tenure and is at multi-decade lows:

labor-force-participation-rate

With a ‘normal’ labor force participation,  the unemployment rate would be much higher, at least 10%.

The problem isn’t just with the totality of the workforce and the employment rate, but with the types of jobs which are being created in this economy, and who is filling them. Even a cursory look at the below surface trend reveals some problems.

The following is a breakdown of the labor force participation rate by age group: (Credit to the excellent Doug Short, who is a tremendous resource with his charting)

labor-force-participation-by-age

The following chart shows the breakdown in cumulative job gains for prime age workers versus those over 55, from 2007 through August 2016:

jobs-old-vs-young

The following chart shows the cumulative gains in the food and hospitality industry versus manufacturing:

water-bartender-mfg-workers

These charts show that the labor force is getting older, and the jobs that are being created are mostly of lower quality, in terms of goods producing. The bartenders vs manufacturing chart is somewhat tongue in cheek, but it does highlight the fact that most of the jobs that are being created are in the service sector, which are less paying jobs. The jobs that are being lost are the higher paying goods producing jobs.

Also concerning is he fact that the jobs data for September 2016 showed an increase in part time jobs of 430,000, compared to a loss in full time jobs of 5,000. In addition, there was a spike in the amount of individuals who hold multiple jobs of roughly 300,000, from 7.5 million to 7.8 million. The following two charts highlight these developments:

part-vs-full multiple-oct

Put it all together, and what we have is an economy which appears to be creating low paying jobs, which are being filled by people who may already have jobs, but need second and third jobs. Or, individuals who were laid off from a full time job, and are replacing it with multiple part time jobs, at lower pay.

Regardless, these are not signs of a robust economy, and those who point to headlines touting ‘X million jobs created since the recovery’ are being duped by an attractive mask that hides a horror show.

The Asset Price Mask

But what about the stock market? Isn’t it at all time highs?

It is, but masks are present here as well. Namely, the Federal Reserve. For nearly 8 years, the Federal Reserve has been engaged in unprecedented levels of monetary accommodation, with the Federal Funds rate resting at 0% until the most modest of raises in December 2015.

That raise was supposed to be the start of an easing cycle, which many experts predicted would result in four rate hikes for 2016. However, the stock market subsequently began 2016 with the worst start in the history of the stock market. This prompted an abrupt about face from the Fed, and then the ‘experts,’ with respect to the rate hiking schedule. Four rate hikes became two, and two became one, and as of this writing there is talk that there will be none at all.

That 12% stock market sell off in the first three weeks of 2016, on the back of the Fed raising rates for the first time in 7 years, from 0% to a negligible 0.25%, is indicative of the whole story: This market lives by the Fed and dies by the Fed. Some, myself among them, would call that a bubble.

The Fed’s persistence in keeping interest rates as low as possible is ultimately rooted in its flawed belief that elevated asset prices are the key to prosperity. Consider Ben Bernanke’s 2010 explanation of accommodative monetary policy and its intended result, the ignition of the ‘wealth effect.’

This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate this additional action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion.

This is a description of an economic growth model that starts with the Fed lowering interest rates, pumping money into the economy, continues with various actors in the economy increasing their borrowing, and ends in them buying assets, which increase their prices, emboldening the owners of those assets to further spend or take on more debt as a result of their increased ‘collateral.’

The hope Bernanke and all Keynesian influenced central bankers had, and still have, is that this process continues and feeds on itself, a phenomenon known as the ‘virtuous cycle.’

Indeed, the Federal Reserve has accomplished this, expanding its balance sheet from roughly $800 billion in 2008 to roughly $4.5 trillion today:

fredgraph-2

Which has led to skyrocketing corporate debt:

fredgraph-3

Which has, in part, led to a substantial rise in the S&P 500, which I will use as a proxy for ‘asset prices’:

fredgraph-4

The problem with this, the Fed’s preferred model for growth, is that continued asset price increases rely on ever expanding debt, to provide the impetus to buy. It is a simple fact that debt cannot expand in perpetuity. It is limited by the ability to service that debt, which is in turn limited by the productive capacity of the borrower in question.

With respect to corporate borrowers, that productive capacity is seen in earnings. If corporates can produce increasing earnings, they can sustain larger debt loads, which justifies the higher debt-induced prices. The following chart, of the S&P 500 index compared with earnings of the companies in that index, tells an interesting tale:

spx-earnings-vs-stock-index-price-1

In short, the continued rise in stock prices are not justified based on the diminishing productive capacity of the companies themselves. A reason for this diminished capacity is general weakness in the economy itself, evidenced by the labor market situation which was discussed earlier.

An economy in which more and more people are working multiple lower paying part time service jobs instead of higher paying full time goods producing jobs is going to be an economy in which fewer and fewer people have incomes which allow them to spend freely. These household budgets are further constricted when taking into account the fact that the Fed is trying to engineer prices higher, so as to kick start the ‘virtuous cycle’ of the ‘wealth effect.’

The math just doesn’t work. Rigid incomes lead to constrained household budgets, which do not lend themselves to increased spending at higher price points, nor do they lend themselves to increasing borrowing to spend at higher price points.

Despite this roadblock, share prices continue to remain elevated, because the continued low interest rate environment established by the Fed enables corporates to take up the burden of spending. They can borrow at record low rates, and buy back stock. Or, other investors, banks, foreign central banks and others can borrow at low rates, in order to buy elevated stock prices. The rationale here is less a belief in a prospective restoration of business fundamentals, and more in a belief that buyers will buy for the sake of buying, rendering elevated prices becoming even more elevated.

Even the Fed is worried about the developments they have created:

In the minutes of the Fed’s September meeting, released this week,some officials “expressed concern that the protracted period of very low interest rates might be encouraging excessive borrowing and increased leverage in the nonfinancial corporate sector.”

 

Despite these worries, investors continue to demand corporate debt, helping fuel a years-long rip-roaring rally in corporate credit that shows few signs of stopping. Corporate bond issuance this year is set to total $1.5 trillion, nudging past last year’s tally, according to the credit strategists at HSBC, led by Edward Marrinan. Issuance of high-grade debt is expect hit [sic] another record high this year.

 

It’s all a sign that, in the words of the bank’s strategists, “Market participants seem to be downplaying—or looking past—the risks associated with the steady deterioration in the credit fundamentals of the US corporate sector,” such as rising leverage, contracting earnings, and stressed revenues.

 

After the financial crisis, many companies focused on rebuilding their balance sheets to withstand another shock. But as the prolonged period of low interest rates continued, cheap borrowing costs prompted, well, more borrowing. Much of that went to fund shareholder-friendly activities like dividend increases and share buybacks. It also funded big mergers and acqusitions.

Emphasis mine. The preponderance of ‘shareholder-friendly activities,’ not least of which being the explosion of asset prices themselves, looks very good on the surface. Indeed, many law makers, academics, and market cheerleaders (such as President Obama) have been in a celebratory mood over the last few years, boldly declaring that the Federal Reserve’s actions had worked.

However, the divergence described by the WSJ – that the Fed itself worries about – between elevated asset prices and the fundamental deterioration of those prices is real, and cannot persist in perpetuity.

Removing the Mask

Deteriorating fundamentals cannot support the further debt burdens that are required to keep asset prices rising even further beyond these levels. And the Fed knows it. This is why they abandoned the original plan for multiple rate hikes in 2016, as that would have slowed down borrowing and thus slowed down the impetus for asset price increases.

In this manner, the market going from four expected rate hikes to now one or zero rate hikes is an effective rate cut. This is what the Fed has been relegated to, sitting on its hands and hoping a miracle happens. If they are proactive in doing anything more accommodative, such as another round of QE, they will put themselves in an untenable position. They can’t on one hand tout the robustness of the economy  yet embark on further emergency policies, such as QE would be. The situation would be exposed for all but the most die-hard believers in the Fed.

Regardless of their games, or ‘forward guidance’ as they would call it, reality will assert itself at some stage. The mask will eventually come off. How exactly it will happen is uncertain. But this situation has happened several times before in financial history. There is no escaping a scenario in which too much debt has been taken on relative to the ability to service it. All the Federal Reserve (and central banking in general) can accomplish is to push the date of reckoning out into the future. But even that does damage.

The current boom/bust episode is merely the latest in a 40 plus year credit binge following the ending of the gold standard in 1971. This has eventually led to constantly rising asset prices, which fooled the majority of the public into eschewing the idea of accumulating real savings.

Most used their home or 401k as their savings account. This was fine as long as the stock and housing markets kept rising, which they did, temporary bear market corrections notwithstanding. That all changed in 2008, when the bubble burst in earnest, and asset prices crashed.

This resulted in mass layoffs, but more importantly, many who had counted on elevated real estate and stock prices for retirement were now out in the cold, just at the moment they were ready to retire. This meant they were forced to return to the labor market, because they had built up no real savings over the preceding decades. This explains the surge in labor force participation for the over 55 segment, discussed earlier.

The under 55s have struggled to regain a foothold during this latest ‘recovery,’ still being several million jobs underwater from where they began the Great Recession. Some of this is down to competition from the over 55 workers, who flooded the market. Many of them, closed off from their former occupations, went into parts of the market usually populated by younger workers. Hence the proverbial ‘Wal-Mart Greeter.’

That position really should be filled by a 16 year old kid, working his first job and acquiring the basic skills involved with employment. Instead, the position is filled by a 60 year old who is working one of his last jobs because he didn’t accumulate savings during most of his productive years.

This phenomenon doesn’t bode well for the economy as a whole going forward. When you have an economy which is severely under-employing those who are in their peak earning years, not only is the economy not going to be moving as robustly as it should, but in the future, as those workers persist with decades of under-employment, they too will have to encroach on future younger generations as they try to get their careers off the ground. Multiple generations impaired at once.

And therein lies one of the ultimate problems with central banking, played out over decades. It, like most of government, prioritizes political expedience over longer term sustainability, papering over the cracks instead of repairing them, thus consigning the ultimate costs to be dealt with in the future.

In this greater sense, reality will assert itself here as well. The exponential increase in debt and increases in money supply papering over business cycle after business cycle can only end in a currency crisis, as it has done many times in the past. One can only hope we correct course before such an event occurs.

The American Revolution, 2.0

For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests they partner with, our campaign represents an existential threat. This is not simply another 4-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not We The People reclaim control over our government. – Donald Trump, 13 October 2016

 

On 21 December 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s Communist leader, addressed the public in a speech intended to restore calm. He promised the workers increased social benefits, including a raise in wages, and declared that the casualties in Timisoara from a few days earlier were the result of foreign agitators who wished to undermine the sovereignty of Romania. He called upon the people to stand and fight against these agitators.

Ceausescu was jeered. The public knew the truth, and Ceausescu and his wife Elena would be executed four days later.

That truth was that the government had ordered the military to fire on civilians engaging in a protest in the city of Timisoara on 17 December. The protest was over an order of eviction for Laszlo Tokes, a Protestant Bishop, for speaking out against the injustices the Romanian government had perpetrated on its people.

Thousands protested, surrounding Tokes’ apartment, engaging in demonstration. This was eventually met with gunfire, from the military on its civilians. This act sparked a nationwide Revolution, which culminated in the overthrow and execution of the Ceausescus.

Though the situation in 2016 United States is much different on the surface, there are many parallels to be drawn with the situation in Romania circa December 1989. Whereas the Romanian people were suffering under the economic failure that is communism, the American people of 2016 are suffering under a similar economic failure that is best described as corporatism. In both cases, an undercurrent of dissent had been created among the masses. In Romania, it ended up becoming a wave which overwhelmed the elites. It remains to see what happens in the United States.

If nothing else, the Trump campaign should have alerted even the most dim witted among us to the fact that there is a global establishment/elite, and they exist solely to keep themselves enriched and in power. This establishment,despite the existence of conservatives, has only succeeded in driving the country Leftward. Previously, this view was the province of ‘wingnuts,’ purveyors of ‘conspiracy theories,’ and increasingly, anyone who leans right.

Consider the following from Angelo Codevilla, in his piece After the Revolution:

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

This is why Obamacare was jammed through Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court despite being unconstitutional, this is why Paul Ryan passed Omnibus, why the DNC rigged the Democratic Primary against Bernie Sanders.

This is why, the day after Americans celebrated the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the FBI declared Hillary Clinton had basically committed a crime, but didn’t really, and thus wasn’t going to press charges. Beyond this, the mere optics of the situation say quite a bit. If chargers were to be pressed, the FBI would have had to put President Obama on the stand, who then would have had to either tell the truth, condemning Clinton and thus handing the presidency to Trump, or perjuring himself and risking all that came with that.

To avoid that catch-22, the FBI did its best to botch the case, handing out immunity to anyone with a pulse, and even allowing key evidence to be destroyed. Their goal was to make the whole case go away, cementing the idea that the elites exist to protect the elites.

This explains why Clinton, two months later, called half of Trump supporters ‘deplorables’ and ‘irredeemable,’ essentially excommunicating them from America. The mainstream media, the mouthpiece of the establishment, enthusiastically agreed with Clinton, like it agrees with and defends the establishment position generally.

The Leftward March

Despite the fact that ‘communism’ is still a dirty word in America, its elites have not shied away from borrowing the tactic of suppressing dissent, dissent against the Leftward March in particular. Codevilla provides insight as to some of the changes that march has inflicted on America over the last five decades or so:

Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer. Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions. Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.” In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism. The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis—none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials—is enforced as if it had been.

Let’s step back for a moment. One of the defining characteristics of this multi decade Leftward March has been the replacement of Christianity with a sort of secular atheism. This secular atheism is a religion in its own right; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been replaced by Equality, Fairness and Diversity. The seven deadly sins of this new religion are sexism, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, nationalism, Anti-Semitism and Judgmentalism.

As I’ve written before, these new deadly sins are the vector through which societal control is meted out by the elites. Furthermore, the thresholds for committing one of these sins are continually lowered such that the only narrow band of thought and behavior which is acceptable is complete acquiescence to the most cutting edge of Progressive views at the time.

In 2016, the Current Year, the proles who enthusiastically support the modern tenets of leftism – such as transgender acceptance – are on the Right Side of History and can feel comfort in the fact that they are Good People.

The problem arises in the future. As Codevilla describes, things that were once unthinkable or taboo can commonplace and normal in a short period of time, and one was bandied as a bigot if one did not fully accept those changes. In the same way, a Goodperson in the Current Year 2016 may find himself or herself faced with a new test for Goodpersonhood in a future Current Year – namely the complete acceptance of things such as incest, pedophilia, or bestiality, for example.

Balking at such a test, and refusing to accept those things as normal may brand one a Bad Person, worthy of the same social ostracism one was eager to foist upon someone who wanted to stop illegal immigration in 2016. This is the ultimate flaw with leftism, in all of its guises – it’s a never ending race to the bottom which runs counter to human nature. As a result, any and all manner of Stasies, dictatorial iron fists or Twitter Trust and Safety Councils are needed to perpetually shield the March against gripping reality.

Ultimately, reality and truth win out, and the hope is it happens before there is some sort of terminal crisis. Trump’s candidacy, and concomitant movement is in may ways is that Enough is Enough moment. An email from Bill Ivey, former Clinton official, to John Podesta, Clinton campaign chair, part of the Podesta Email dump released by Wikileaks, suggests that the elites understand what is happening. Part of it reads:

 …And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.

 

The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.

‘Poll driven, demographically-inspiring messaging.’ Aka playing on the seven deadly sins, which mostly involve demographics. With these two paragraphs, the entire leftist modus operandi is laid: Divide people up based on their individual characteristics, and then deliver targeted messaging based on each characteristic in order to stir emotion. Once that emotion is stirred, it can be directed towards the end of voting for leftists.

Hence the constant barrage of ‘Trump is racist, Trump is sexist, and so forth.’ This email, written in March, reveals that even then Democrats had been concerned that their standard messaging wasn’t working, as evidenced by an admitted rapid fading of compliance. Ivey recommends ‘serious thinking’ about how to restore such compliance.

All Out War

It is not a stretch to imagine that the smear campaign waged against Trump over the last week constitutes a the sort of escalation in tactics required given the failure of run of the mill ‘demographically-inspiring messaging.’

Rationally speaking, the Billy Bush tape simply displays an alpha male engaging in crude, vulgar sex talk, which while disturbing to some, is a rather accurate commentary on sexual relations. Anyone who tries to intimate that high status men do not have ‘leeway’ with women that does not apply to ‘regular’ men is at best a liar.

The women involved in the latest sexual harassment charges against Trump highlight a different, more pernicious issue. At the second debate, during discussion of the Billy Bush tape, Anderson Cooper asked Trump multiple times if he had ever sexually assaulted a woman in the way that was described on the tape. Never mind the fact that on that tape, Trump declared that women LET him touch them, owing to his star status.

Cooper asked Trump multiple times in succession, as if to warn Trump that he better be careful how he answered. That exchange was the green light for the parade of sexual assault accusers that followed. That this sort of thing was so predictable immediately raised questions. Beyond that, a few of the accusers have had holes poked in their stories since the start. It appears that at least one of them might be a Clinton plant.

Summer Zervos, the woman who nearly broke down in tears while reading her account of an alleged assault has had her account rebutted by her cousin, who claims she spoke highly of Trump until April of this year:

“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today. Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump. For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr. Trump and viewed him as an inspiration – a success story she wanted to copy. Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr. Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press. She has praised the good things he’s done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.

 

“That was until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no. I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.” – John Barry, Mission Viejo, CA (first cousin of Summer Zervos)

That should make for an odd Thanksgiving gathering for sure.

Jokes aside, these allegations beg the question: How is it that a man who has been at the center of media attention for 40 years, a time during which countless women were in his orbit, having had no charges of sexual assault during that time, is now all of a sudden is bombarded with a torrent of charges of sexual abuse by an Establishment which is mere weeks from possibly losing the Presidency to that same man who has an agenda destructive to that same Establishment?

Given such a question violates multiple deadly sins, do not expect it to ever be posed, let alone answered, by anyone other than Dissidents of the Leftist March.

Indeed, those on the right, the GOP establishment types in particular, were lightning quick in not only denouncing Trump’s comments on the Bush Tape, but outright withdrawing their support for his candidacy. In doing so, they highlighted what most people already suspected, which was that they never really supported Trump, and were looking for any excuse to jump off the train.

There were even internet rumblings that the source of the Bush tape was an operative from the Romney/Paul Ryan camp, which is unconfirmed at the time of this writing, but plausible given the rapidity and coordinators of the disavowals from GOP establishment Republicans.

This facet of the saga is particularly interesting, given the timidity shown by  GOPe Republicans such as Paul Ryan in standing up to anything Obama and the Democrats have attempted to do. The acceptance of the farce that is condensing  an entire budget into a single bill, which therefore just has to be passed so as not to avoid the ‘disgrace’ of shutting down the government. Meanwhile the budget is usually chock full of goodies handed out to special interests. GOPe and Democrat voices are the first to trot out the old lines about children and the sick elderly suffering because of political grandstanding. In actuality, they are preying on normal human compassion to force through handouts to their friends. It is the singular establishment mindset at work.

Even if Trump were to win, Ryan would be one of Trump’s biggest enemies in Congress. This is because Trump’s nationalist agenda is in direct contrast with Ryan’s corporate donors, who have installed him to push through legislation such as TPP, among other things. On a personal level, there is the observation that Trump, a political neophyte, came into the GOP and immediately shot to the top of the food chain. Ryan, on the other hand, has paid his dues for nearly two decades, climbing up the Party ladder. In a GOP which is all about order, and the ‘next guy in line,’ Ryan had placed himself in pole position in terms of a GOP nominee for 2020.

In the high likelihood he does harbor Presidential ambitions, Ryan would have every reason to combat Trump, and more broadly Trumpism, given Trump’s election would render his political career a huge waste of time. In other words, the ascendancy of Trumpism would simultaneously bring about the death of GOP RINOism. This fight is a fight for survival, and as such it is bound to be very dirty and very intense.

As mentioned earlier, it is not confirmed that GOPe players were behind the leak, but the fact that Billy Bush is the cousin of one Jeb Bush has done little to quell that speculation. Even if there was nothing nefarious, the sharp and swift abandonment of Trump by prominent Republicans, as well as the wall to wall coverage given to every Trump controversy by the media, and culminating with this train of sexual assault accusers, has ended up possibly, almost incredibly, having the effect of turning Trump into a victim. Trump seems to be latching on to this point in his latest speeches, in particular the speech he gave yesterday afternoon in Palm Beach:

The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means which are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe, and morally deformed. They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy you career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your representation.

Trump has been transformed from the Big Bad Racist Wolf to Laszlo Tokes, a dissident who saw the guns of the government turned on him for merely saying out loud what most people had already known to be true. With each attack, each slander, each new accuser who comes out of the woodwork at the most convenient of times, the idea that the elites are trying to screw over Donald Trump, the representative of The People, grows stronger.

Overplaying Their Hand

Much like the thousands who formed a ring around Laszlo Tokes’ apartment in 1989, many are doing the same for Donald Trump. It started last weekend with Paul Ryan getting heckled by his own constituents in Wisconsin, and continued that afternoon when an impromptu rally took place outside Trump Tower. When Trump came down to greet the throng of supporters, there was momentary pandemonium on the streets. It has continued all week on social media and message boards, which have become the true vanguard of the culture war underpinning this election.

And yet, the establishment, the media in particular, does not understand any of this. Throughout the multi decade Leftist March, all that was required of the press to take down a Republican was a middling scandal. An affair with a staffer, some dodgy tax returns, a questionable comment about minorities or the poor, you get the idea. These sort of things were then megaphoned into the public conscience until the offender got on his knees, groveled and begged for forgiveness. The moment that happened, the game was up, for the penalty for committing a deadly sin in politics is the death of one’s campaign.

Donald Trump has endured literally dozens of these sort of ‘controversies,’ big and small, without folding. It is not only a testament to his fortitude, but a stunning rebuke to the argument put forth by some conservative commentators that literally any other GOP candidate would have beaten Hillary Clinton. A ‘normal’ GOP candidate would have also been susceptible to ‘normal’ campaign ending takedowns from the establishment media. It’s that simple.

Having had dozens of their attacks fail over the course of the campaign, the establishment media has responded by going even harder than before. Indeed, the authors who introduced the most recent sexual assault accusers in the New York Times earlier this week, Megan Twohey and Michael Barbaro, were the same authors who wrote a piece in May which attempted to portray Trump as a serial abuser of women in the work place and his private life. Less than two days after that story dropped, the principal subject of the story was on TV refuting those implications and said that Trump treated her like a gentleman during the time they dated.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Except, at this late stage in the game, the increasing intensity and fervor of these accusations, which seem to increase by the hour, starts to feel more and more like desperation. It starts to feel like the lady doth protest too much. It starts to feel like the boy who cried wolf. Especially when it comes from the media, which has overwhelmingly lost the trust of the public, owing to its lies and obfuscations. Furthermore they’ve shown an unwavering commitment to pushing the same Political Correctness line at the exact time that is falling out of favor with more and more people. It is all done to secure the continuation of the Leftward March, but its casualties are exactly the victims this march purports to save.

To wit, in (possibly) drumming up charges of sexual assault against Trump for political gain, they have potentially done great damage to real sexual assault victims by trivializing the charge. This is in the same vein other ‘deadly sins’ such as racism and homophobia have now been rendered worthless by the ever expanding actions which now can be covered by those terms.

As a result, the media will be fundamentally altered, for the worse. A Trump victory means the death of legacy media. A Clinton victory means they go on as loyal Clinton/establishment servants for a time, but the last shred of legitimacy it had in the eyes of the people will be lost. More ominously, the media will have completed its transformation from mere dishonest advocates, to outright enemy combatants in the coming conflict.

On this conflict: it is only a matter of time before the public turns against the Leftward March and rises up to defeat it, as the Romanian people did to the communists in 1989. The most obvious event that will usher this home in America is the election of Donald Trump. If Trump does not win, the situation will be a bit murkier.

There is a school of thought that a Clinton presidency will be compromised, owing to the fact that it was so hotly contested. The ongoing Wikileaks saga and the obvious fact that she was allowed a free pass by the FBI  would render her a very weak president in the eyes of many.

I disagree with this view. I believe that Clinton does not care how she attains power, as long as she gets it. She will note the fact that the country was ‘so close’ to succumbing to fascism as a pretense for implementing fascist tactics herself, under the guise of ‘anti-fascism.’ We’re talking executive orders out the wazoo, major restrictions on the second amendment, and explicit declarations of ‘seven sins’ violations as criminal. In other words, the Leftward March will proceed at warp speed, having been motivated by the near death experience that was Donald Trump.

Given the fact that at least half the country already protests the massive, fundamental transformation of America, an acceleration of it has potentially explosive implications, up to and including war. Unfortunately, that is the only resolution when differences that are this stark exist among the populace.

The most likely scenario is that the massive war the establishment is wishing to ignite with Russia comes to pass, and the country is instantly ‘united’ in that manner. It is my view that an escalation with Russia is almost a certainty should Hillary Clinton win. Her record is no different to your run of the mill neocon who worships the military-industrial complex. She, like them, supported all American adventures in the Middle East, and supports American actions in the proxy war with Russia in Syria. She, like them, is quick to label Putin as the new Hitler (during the 5 minutes a day that comparison isn’t being made about Trump).

Trump, on the other hand has dared to put forth the idea that diplomacy with Russia is possible, and that the two nations could even be allies. The Russians agree, saying that a vote for Hillary is essentially a vote of nuclear war.

Conclusion

None of this matters however, because Donald Trump once talked about what women would LET (let, as in allow, as in consent to, LET) him do with their private regions.

This is what it has come to, unfortunately. A culture ground down by decades of cultural Marxism has allowed tabloid gossip, salacious drama, feelings and smear campaigns to supersede discussion of substantive issues, like the prospect of nuclear war. And for this we claim to be an enlightened and forward thinking generation.

Unfortunately, because we have declared ourselves so enlightened, we are also above learning anything from the multitudes who walked this earth before us. The Leftist March is all about that idea: that whatever feels good in the present IS good solely because it is in the present. History is to be ignored, which is why leftists always talk about progress as if it is a linear thing. We can’t go ‘back’ to the old way, they constantly tell us; we must keep moving ‘forward,’ even if that means straight into a buzz saw.

It is not a stretch to say that the modern slavish devotion to the Leftward March, ostensibly in the name of a constructive inclusiveness, may ultimately usher in the use of perhaps the most destructive force ever known to man, nuclear weaponry. Future historians will look back with amazement at how stupid we were to allow things to get to this point in the first place.

But for now, YOLO.

 

P***y Riot 2: More Thoughts

Upon thinking further about the Trump Tape fiasco and the Podesta emails, I’ve got some things to add to my original post, in no particular order.

  1. The fact that these two events took place is telling:

Telling because it confirms that Trump has legit support, and that support isn’t being shaken by this latest smear campaign by the media

2. There are rumors on Twitter that it was the GOP establishment who leaked it. I don’t really buy that as of yet, but it were to be confirmed it wouldn’t be a surprise. Regardless, the way several of the GOPe members of House and Senate reacted, in unison to disavow Trump highlighted several things. First it highlighted that they were never on board with Trump in the first place. On a more basic level it highlights their hypocrisy, weakness, while confirming them as backstabbers. It underlines one of the main themes of the election, which is that Trump is a true outsider fighting against both the Republican and Democrat establishment, as well as a mainstream media. All 3 of those actors are set to have their influence neutered, if not destroyed completely by a Trump presidency, and this renders their actions in circling the wagons against Trump unsurprising.

3. Whether this hurts Trump, and how much is an open question. In the cold light of day, this is a nonsensical issue, tabloid fodder. Trump spoke in an uncouth manner, but there is no man on earth who hasn’t spoken in such an ‘ugly’ manner when it’s just the guys. Politics isn’t based on rational thought however, and as such Trump might be facing a hit. this is especially true because his ‘scandal,’ and indeed all of his ‘scandals’ to date have been much more visceral and emotional sounding than Clinton’s.

The ease in which encapsulating a ‘MISOGYNIST/SEXIST/EVIL/HITLER/BIGOT’ into an easily remembered sentence or phrase compared with the relative complexity in describing Clinton’s unending corruption and active humiliation and intimidation of Bill Clinton’s rape victims, not to mention her ‘dream’ of a borderless North America and executive ordered castration of the 2nd Amendment, renders Trump’s scandals more damaging, despite being not even being real scandals in the first place. Trump will have to overcome this.

4. One plus for Trump is that he was a known playboy from the start. He was never one of these Evangelical holier-than-thou politicians. As such this sort of revelation doesn’t do that much harm because it is congruent to who he is. Americans hate phony, and tape confirming what we already knew about Trump solidifies his authenticity. For all the people who might be scared away from him, others may be drawn in because he is ‘real,’ and have themselves engaged in that sort of boorish behavior themselves.

5. I can’t stress the contempt I have for the media for pulling this stunt, and others. They promote all sorts of sexual deviance, push pedophilia, push for things like mandatory sex education elementary school children about sex, yet cry bloody murder over tape of Trump being an alpha male. It’s a disgrace, which suggests to me there is an element of desperation in their tactics. The media, being part of the establishment triumvirate which wants Trump gone is stepping up its assault because Trump is too close for comfort. As I mentioned before his support is real. Having not been demoralized by a barrage of polls with unrealistic Democrat samples, the media is trying to go after Trump in this underhanded manner.

6. Related to that is an idea I’ve talked about before – the risk of the media and Clinton overplaying their hand. For a start, the MISOGYNIST/SEXIST/RACIST/BIGOT argument isn’t a real argument, it’s a slander. It works, however, owing to the issue I raised in point 3 about irrationality in politics. These hit pieces work because play on emotion. In 2016, this has been the vast majority of the attack, which is dangerous because at some stage people will get tired of it. The blatant nature of the Trump Tape attack has a decent chance of backfiring because a large percentage of people will see it for what it is – a low blow. It’ll turn Trump into an almost sympathetic figure, which might make him even stronger.

7. The debate Sunday night is going to be for all the marbles. I have no clue how Trump will play it, but early indications are he is preparing for war. If he ‘goes there’ with Clinton, he has to get it right. But even if he doesn’t, the entire debate has to be about Trump holding Clinton to the fire for her failures. It is possible the Trump Tape attack was a wad shot too early, done as a counter attack to the Podesta emails. The latter will be a slow burn, while most of the life of these Trump Tapes has already run its course. By the end of Sunday night, the debate will take over as the main talking point, along with the further digestion of the Podesta emails.

8. As I’ve said numerous times, Trump has given Americans a true choice for the first time since perhaps the 1980 election. If Americans want to eschew that real change because it comes in a boorish package, the so be it. But I prefer a p***y monger to an open border, globalist warmonger.