A Serious Contender with a Plan
Donald Trump has obviously become a serious contender for the Republican nomination (in spite of the fact that he has suffered a slight setback on Saturday). He has morphed from a “joke” that the pundits were absolutely sure “would soon flame out” to the leader of the pack. Funny enough, the only candidate who still might have a chance to catch up to him is Ted Cruz – whom the Republican establishment reportedly doesn’t really like all that much either.
And he’s a gift for cartoonists too!
Cartoon by Chris Rommel
We have given Trump’s success some thought, and have realized that in spite of his low-brow delivery (some journalists have e.g. pointed out that he employs a rather limited vocabulary in his speeches), his seeming inconsistencies and his rudeness, his campaign has probably been planned very well from the beginning. He is definitely not the bumbler many of his critics think (or thought) he is. He actually has a strategy, and so far it has worked very well. It’s like a very well-executed business plan, getting the most bang for the buck.
Readers may e.g. recall the first Republican TV debate: he was the only candidate who initially refused to “take the pledge” (namely, to support whoever was going to win the nomination). In retrospect, it seems to have been a well calculated step. Trump has probably known from the beginning that his appeal would primarily consists of one thing: the fact that he is not them. By “them” we mean the establishment, which has completely lost touch with the base (this also explains why Cruz is turning out to be Trump’s sole competition: many apparently see him as a non-establishment guy as well, but he is a professional politician). Later of course, he decided to be pragmatic about it – the message he wanted to send, he had already gotten out.
Trump is holding up his signed pledge very carefully, as if it were one of the poisoned pages in Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose…
As Stefan Molineux correctly noted a while back, you have to have loved something in order to hate it with a real passion. Many traditional Republican voters have been happy to see the party take control of both houses and then looked on in dismay as its representatives did none of the things their voters expected of them. Their tough talk was all bluster (yes, bluster is not only a specialty of Mr. Trump). They were putting on a great show, only to cave to the Obama administration on nearly every issue. Many of the serfs have only just discovered that it is not really a “two party system”. In reality there is just one party: the welfare/warfare party.
This has recently been confirmed beyond doubt when several prominent neo-conservatives announced that in the event of a Trump-Clinton race, they would rather vote for war-harpy Hillary. It’s as though they finally admitted openly that whatever they are, they are certainly not “conservatives”. Well, duh – they never were. If it were possible to reanimate Leon Trotsky, they’d switch their allegiance to him. How are members of the Republican base receiving such news? Does anyone think they will jump for joy upon hearing that allegedly conservative leading lights would pick Hillary over Trump? It’s free advertising for The Donald!
If it comes to this… who should “conservatives” pick? As an aside: we persoally think Trump would stand a much better chance against Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz.
We recently watched an episode of John Oliver’s comedy show on Donald Trump. Apart from the punch-line, which we thought a bit weak (the joke about Trump’s name), Oliver makes many valid (and amusing) points. Yes, Trump seemingly says whatever pops into his head. He harasses his critics quite mercilessly (and effectively). And yes, he often tells quite brazen fibs. And yet, none of this seems to pose a problem for him. When he’s caught, he simply keeps saying whatever he said, as if nothing had happened! He’s like a fun house mirror in that sense. After all, nearly all politicians are lying, usually as soon as they open their mouths. The difference is only that he’s not even trying to cover it up. He just doesn’t give a f*** – and his fans appear to love him for it.
Cronydom is in total panic by now, which is truly a great joy to watch. As to why assorted neo-conservatives would go as far as voting for Ms. Clinton, one can turn to the always dependable Justin Raimondo for a good summary:
“The neocons hate Trump because his foreign policy is the exact opposite of their imperialist delusions. He wants to withdraw US troops from Europe . He wants to do the same in the Pacific theater . He demands that these countries start paying for their own defense. This is treason as far as the neocons are concerned.
Both Rubio and Cruz are attacking Trump for his declaration that he would be “evenhanded ” when it comes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The neoconservative orthodoxy that insists on unconditional support for Israeli actions, no matter how vicious and cruel — and in spite of how inimical it is to American interests – is being successfully challenged by Trump. What has everyone surprised is that evangelical voters, who were supposed to be in Cruz’s camp, have been won over by Trump – and this in spite of his supposedly “anti-Israel” stance.
The neocons especially hate Trump’s declared intention to get along with Putin. They despise the Russian leader because he’s been critical of American hegemonism, driven the thieving oligarchs out of his country, and prevented the US-sponsored regime-change campaign in Syria from succeeding. Trump welcomes the Russian attacks on ISIS, disdains the Syrian rebels so dear to Rubio’s heart, and challenges the idea that overthrowing “bad guys” like Assad, Libya’s Gaddafi, and Saddam Hussein has led to anything other than the growth of terrorism. The “Emergency Committee for Israel” ran an ad attacking Trump over this issue, but the result was very odd: if you look at it , you’ll see that any ordinary American is going to agree with Trump and not the neocons. Indeed, the ad probably helped Trump – that’s how blind the neocons are to the unpopularity of their warmongering.
What really horrifies them, however, is Trump’s sharp critique of the Iraq war, which he calls “a complete disaster,” and his condemnation of George W. Bush’s legacy. He dared not only to question the dogma that “Bush kept us safe,” but he also targeted the neocons who surrounded him:
“They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
This is why the neocons are determined to destroy Trump.”
(emphasis in original)
Incidentally, Ted Cruz is reportedly also considered “suspect” on foreign policy grounds (but that is really just for show – he’s firmly in the Deep State’s pocket). A truly great moment in this “Trump vs. his own party” show came last week, when Mitt Romney decided to climb into the ring. He didn’t disappoint. Here is a clip showing excerpts of his version of “anyone but Trump”:
Romney on “why Trump shouldn’t be our nominee”
We especially liked the small pause after he summarizes Trump’s career as a businessman by asserting “a business genius he is not”. The pause was presumably meant to encourage listeners to fill in the blank with “contrary to me!”
To this one needs to first consider what Mr. Romney had to say about Donald Trump when the latter endorsed his candidacy in 2012. Not only is Romney evidently a backstabber with no honor (at a minimum, he should have held his tongue in view of his eager embrace of Trump’s support in 2012), here is his what he said then, verbatim:
“Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people, He’s done it here in Nevada. He’s done it across the country. He understands that our economy is facing threats from abroad. He’s one of the few people who stood up and said China has been cheating. They’ve taken jobs from Americans. They haven’t played fair. We have to have a president who will stand up to cheaters.”
We gather that just like Ms. Clinton was for the Iraq war before she was against it, Mr. Romney was in favor of a trade war with China before he was against it (leaving aside that Trump’s ideas on trade, while popular, really are an economic fallacy).
Malicious gossip has it that Mittens is actually trying to position himself for another run at the nomination in 2016…or somewhere around there, anyway.
Cartoon by Gary Varvel
Next one needs to consider Mish’s “The Pot Calling the Kettle Black”, which inter alia contains numerous links to further comments on Romney’s outburst. The most interesting of these has been provided by David Stockman, who presents a brief, but quite damning, overview of Mr. Romney’s business career. It reveals Romney to be a quintessential monetary inflation profiteer and crony socialist. The story of Bain Capital’s sham “takeover” of Italy’s state-owned Yellow Pages business (which Mr. Stockman fittingly refers to as “The Italian Job”) is especially noteworthy:
“Bain and some partners bought Italy’s yellow pages monopoly from the Italian government to help gussy-up its budget results when it was seeking admission to the eurozone. This was essentially a “rent-a-balance-sheet” scam—–so when Italy was safely in the eurozone a few years later, and after Romney had attended a single meeting and Bain had done essentially nothing to improve the Yellow Page operations, the government bought back the shares for 22X what Romney and his Wall Street buddies had originally paid. Since Bain had ponied up only $17 million for its piece of the LBO equity, its $375 million profit resulted in a pretty fulsome payday. As I described in the Newsweek article.
“In November 1997 Bain Capital pulled off a veritable capitalist heist in the socialist redoubts of the Italian Yellow Pages. On a $17 million investment in the Italian phone book, it took out a profit of $375 million. This was not only a 22-bagger; for Mitt Romney, it was the ultimate in no-sweat riches. According to the company’s CEO, Romney’s sole involvement was a cameo appearance during a due-diligence session: “He came into the room, asked a couple of very sharp questions immediately, shook hands and left.” Twenty-eight months later, in February 2000, Romney’s former colleagues at Bain located him during his tour of duty in Salt Lake City, where they wired his share of the winnings: a reputed $50 million.
Bain and a syndicate of private-equity houses were originally brought in as a stalking horse to validate the government’s “privatization” machinations. At the time, the key Italian Treasury official was one Mario Draghi (now president of the European Central Bank). His assignment was to get the nation’s huge deficit down to a Maastricht Treaty–compliant 3 percent, and he elected to do so by means of a rent-a-balance-sheet ploy of the type then in favor. The short story is that Bain and the other investors paid 5X the company’s operating income for their shares, and were paid 100X operating income to leave when local circumstances obviated the need for the rental deal. That preposterous multiple expansion accounted for virtually all of Bain’s 22-bagger.”
Yep, pure crony capitalism, and one of the world great monetary frauds, Mario Draghi, got in some practice rounds during the process.
So apparently Romney cashed $50 million personally for merely showing up in a room and shaking a few hands – one of which, surprise, surprise, belonged to the future inflation-spewing Dragon. Nice business if you can get it. Now you know why other polician-bureaucrats such as Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke have been so keen on joining large hedge funds and private equity operations. Being a crony close to the central bank “free money” spigot is really worth it!
Here is a man happy with all the free advertising he’s getting….
Photo credit: Greg Allen / Invision / AP
As the Doplimad blog has wisely recognized, Romney’s attempt to derail Trump has probably solidified the latter’s support further. It’s like yet another free ad. What is interesting in this context is that the author of the Diplomad is actually a Republican who likes Romney in principle, and as far as we can tell is generally not averse to military interventionism either. He nevertheless articulates quite well what we believe many Republican voters feel:
“Big mistake by the “stop Trump” forces. Wheeling out Romney to dump on Trump was an error on par with the Pope’s getting involved .[…] […] I have jumped off the fence. I have landed in Trump’s farm. He is not perfect, far from it. I might even change my mind, but for now I support Trump.
I don’t know if Trump will be terrible; I do know that what we have right now is horrible beyond words. I can’t bear the thought of a Hillary presidency. I know, I know. I have seen the advice about letting the Dems have the White House, and the GOP will hold the Congress, and thus freeze Hillary in place. Don’t buy it. We have seen what has happened over the past few years when the Dems did not have the Congress; we have seen the enormous damage that a progressive President can do even without Congressional approval. In addition, we have seen that the GOP members of the Washington Cartel refuse to fight Obama on what counts. So, I don’t want another Democratic White House. For now, I’ll go with Donald Trump.
This effect is still widely underestimated: quite a few of Trump’s supporters are actually not necessarily on board with everything he says; they are well aware of his many flaws. And yet, their view of the political establishment and the latter’s reaction to Trump is causing them to overlook his drawbacks.
As we mentioned above, Trump likely always knew that his biggest attraction would be his outsider status. Let us not forget, at one point over the past two years, Congress had an approval rating of just 9%. In one survey, even insect pests, traffic jams and colonoscopies enjoyed a better reputation. Congress barely managed to edge out deadly debilitating maladies in terms of popularity.
Unexpected consequences …
The Make-Believe World of Politicial Elites
Lastly, we want to point readers to an article a friend recently mailed to us, entitled “How Tyrannies Implode”. The article discusses the downfall of communist dictatorships in the late 1980s and brings it into context with the woes recently experienced by Europe’s political elites. The author is a conservative as well – at the time the article was written, he may not have realized yet that the very same applies to Washington’s political elites, including the GOP establishment. Here are a few pertinent excerpts:
“[T]he USSR’s vital signs gave no warning of failure. The Soviet Union in 1986 was as as big and populous as it had ever been. It had thousands of nuclear warheads. Its economy was bad it’s true but no worse than at many points in its past. There was no significant opposition to the Politburo.[…]
In his book Private Truth, Public Lies , social scientist Timur Kuran argued that people, under pressure to conform by culture leaders, often told public lies to get the pollsters and thought police off their backs, even as they nurtured largely undetected private resentments inside them. Over time, two divergent perceptions would emerge: the public lie would determine how the regime thought about itself while the private truth contained the real, but hidden data.
These two contradictory perceptions can coexist for as long as they don’t meet, living in a kind of superposition much like Schrodinger’s Cat. But eventually some event occurs which makes the public aware of the private truth which is really what everybody is thinking. That observation collapses the political wave function and causes all hell to break loose.[…]
It’s becoming evident that the European elites failed to understand how explosive the migrant issue was until it detonated full in their face. Now it is in the midst of a crisis which could literally bring down the European Union. Why didn’t they see it coming? Because they believed their own Narrative, even when they should have suspected it was a lie of their own making. If the PC Western elites are overtaken by a cascade similar to that which collapsed the Soviet Union, the ultimate irony will be that the very migrants which they had counted on to create the Curley Effect will turn out to be the engine of their own destruction.
They will have been hoisted on their own petard, or perhaps, more accurately, sentenced by their own Narrative. The most dangerous lie is the one which you tell others, then wind up believing yourself. For many years the Western political elites not only espoused the “public lie”, but made certain that anyone who refused to repeat it was pilloried by the thought police. Like the Soviets, they thought this solved the problem. But it only ensured that the spring would be wound — and wound past the breaking point — precisely where they could not see it strain.”
Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, at the former’s last public speech on December 21, 1989. He tried to win the comrades over one last time by promising to raise minimum wages by 200 Lei (a promise he made up on the fly), but it was too late for such niceties to stem the tide – things were about to really boil over.
Photo credit: Radu Constantinescu / Agerpres
We think this explains the success of Mr. Trump and the quite impressive showing of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries quite well. It also explains why the political elites have been so singularly incapable of denting Trump’s bid, in spite of having the crony-class with its nigh endless monetary resources, as well as the entirety of the corporate media at their beck and call. They are all confusing their own carefully nurtured narratives with reality.
Everything Trump is saying and doing should probably be seen in the context of his strategy. It’s quite Machiavellian actually. The alleged lack of discernible policy stances, the occasional contradictions and often hair-raising statements are all in pursuit of the same goal: to win the nomination. As Bill Bonner has correctly pointed out: “Trump doesn’t think deeply. But he thinks big. He’s not afraid of appearing to be an idiot. He’s not afraid of complications or setbacks, either. His brain focuses on the fight… the negotiation. There are no win-wins in Donald’s world, only win-lose. And he aims to be on the winning side.”.
The country’s social mood is apparently ripe and it finally seems actually possible for a perceived outsider to win by challenging the established order. Our main regret is that it wasn’t yet ripe at the time Ron Paul tried his hand at winning the nomination.
Other than that, we mainly enjoy the growing discomfort of assorted cronies and professional politicians. As far as we are concerned “politician” is a job that shouldn’t even exist. These people should have real jobs serving consumers in the marketplace instead of trying to rule others. The mere fact that people actually want to do the latter is in our opinion indicative of a mental illness (maybe they’re all just unwittingly crying out for treatment). We realize that there are occasional exceptions to the rule, idealists who erroneously believe that they can change the system from within – and we are glad they do exist, because they may at least hamper the inexorable growth of government.
Many observers see Trump’s bluster, his often crude and insulting demeanor and his at times outrageous statements as a reason to invoke apocalyptic visions if he should become president. We wonder why anyone would expect him to be worse than his competition. Once again we turn to Bill Bonner, who recently remarked to this:
“[M]aking preposterous and outrageous proposals hardly disqualifies you for the White House. Some of our “best” presidents – at least, according to historians and the public – were those who did the looniest things… things that were completely at odds with the Constitution, the spirit of liberty, and their own policy goals.[…] [Martin Wolf] says that if Donald Trump wins the White House, it “would be a global disaster.” How does he know that? Would it be less of a global disaster if Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton were elected? Fortunately, Mr. Wolf is wrong about everything. […] If it is Mr. Trump who gets the crown, we have no real reason to think he will be a more benighted and misbegotten ruler than any of the others.”
Whatever happens will happen – we are in the meantime resolved to sit back and thoroughly enjoy the show. As we noted before, it’s great entertainment – what more can one hope for?