Tag Archives: draining the swamp

U-Turn or Detour? by Robert Gore

You can’t drain the swamp without shutting off its wellsprings.

Disaffected veterans were the core of a group that would grow to millions, their “faith” in government and the people who ran it obliterated by its repeated failures and lies. Revolutions dawn when an appreciable number of the ruled realize their rulers are intellectual and moral inferiors. The mainstream media is filled with vituperative, patronizing, and insulting explanations of what’s “behind” the Trump phenomenon. It all boils down to revulsion with the self-anointed, incompetent, pretentious, hypocritical, corrupt, prevaricating elite that presumes to rule this country. It is, in a word, inferior to the populace on the other side of the yawning chasm, the ones they have patronized and insulted for decades, and the other side knows it.

Much More Than Trump,” SLL, 3/12/16

The election represented a triumph, after decades of mockery and defeat, of a voting bloc Donald Trump identified, validated, and vindicated.

Repudiating the elite and its supporting institutions—government and all its rackets, the media, academia, Hollywood—is the necessary first step to reversing America’s full-speed-ahead plunge into a Grand Canyon-size ditch. It has ruled America badly and corruptly, lining its pockets while maintaining its phony pose of moral and intellectual superiority. Trump is the decent besieged’s desperate call for a U-turn before the reigning establishment leaves the country smashed on the canyon floor.

Understandably, Trump’s supporters have celebrated their victory, basked in the establishment’s discomfiture, and mocked their foes. That a less-than-zero like Hillary Clinton could gain her party’s nomination (although she might not have if she hadn’t cheated), gain the endorsement of virtually everyone that “mattered,” and even win the popular vote (if the count is to be believed) gave Trump’s side plenty of targets and material.

Clinton and friends also gave Trump plenty of targets and material for investigations and legal proceedings. As SLL concluded in “The Rout Is On,” Trump has turned the tables. Russiagate fizzles while Uranium One, Fusion GPS, FBI favoritism, and Clinton’s emails and foundation sizzle. Last week, a judge ordered Fusion GPS to turn over all it’s banking records. It was learned the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation. The Justice Department reopened its investigation into Clinton’s emails. The FBI’s Freedom of Information Act officer said that every memo former FBI director James Comey leaked to a Columbia law professor was classified.

SLL has suggested, there won’t be a general swamp draining because Trump’s primary motivation is the acquisition of power. He will prosecute establishment criminality in some cases while using the threat as leverage against those who are useful to him in their present positions. That may explain why the Clintons and Comey are in the most legal jeopardy: they no longer have positions or power. Their prosecutions and convictions would be enormous victories for Trump, electrifying his base and further demoralizing the absurdly named resistance.

However, it would be a pleasant surprise to see Trump and team go after the entire swamp, offering welcome evidence that SLL’s hypothesis concerning Trump’s motives may be off base.

There’s an old adage in the securities business: you’re only as good as your last trade. It’s laudable and essential that Trump has his enemies on the run, especially if it leads to a swamp draining. That said, the next steps involve identifying the intellectual wellsprings that feed the swamp and taking the steps necessary to halt the flow. If those steps aren’t taken, the swamp will be half refilled by the time Trump’s helicopter reaches Andrews Air Force Base on his last day in office.

As long as Washington is a $4 trillion honey pot, as long as it sticks its nose in every important activity and business, as long as intervenes anywhere it wants around the globe, for whatever reason, it will be a swamp. Money and power feed the swamp. To not address the sophistries justifying that flow means that regardless of how successful Trump is, new swamp vermin will quickly replace the old.

The word “conservative” implies conserving something. What conservatives conserve, as well as nourish and profit from, is the ever-expanding federal government. Conservatives think small: a little less or a little more. A little less taxes, regulation, and welfare, a little more defense spending and foreign intervention. Fewer liberals in power, more conservatives. Republican presidents and Republican-controlled congresses have come and gone as the swamp has relentlessly grown. The current Republican president and congress have even managed to conserved Obamacare.

Looking at the mess Washington has made of America and the rest of the world, what would any rational, honest person want to conserve? Wouldn’t it be better just to blow the whole thing up and start all over? Isn’t that what’s necessary if you want not just to drain the swamp, but keep it drained?

Even as an intellectual exercise, ‘blowing the whole thing” up means asking questions that few ask. Why should the US be the world’s policeman? Does regulation do anything other than protect entrenched interests? By what right does the government steal from the productive? By what right does it burden future generations with trillions in debt and “entitlement” promises? Are central banking and fiat debt anything more than fraud and theft? Why should government have any role in the issuance of “money,” when it has every incentive to debase it? Do people have a right to keep what they earn, and in stores of value of their own choosing? Do people have the right to control their own lives? Are they to be forever tyrannized by government?

Both teams declared these issues settled long ago. Yet, as long as these issues are “settled,” so is the swamp, regardless of the progress Trump might make temporarily draining it. And as long as these issues are “settled,” so too is America’s impending plunge into the ditch.

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Washington D.C. is Swarming With Unaccountable Parasites, by Michael Krieger

Here is yet another illustration of the two standards of “justice” in the US. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

In theory, Americans should be proud of their national capital and all the important work that gets done there. In theory.

In reality, our nation’s capital is an utter cesspool of self-serving, unethical and unaccountable parasites. We all know it and, even worse, it’s probably a hundred times more grotesque than we can imagine. A distressingly high number of people attracted to this swamp don’t go there to do good public work or help the American people. They go in order to enrich themselves at our expense.

A particularly degenerate strain of D.C. cretin is the lobbyist. These people swarm into Washington to influence the purse-strings of the U.S. government and funnel as much American treasure as possible in the direction of their clients, including Wall Street oligarchs, defense contractors and barbaric foreign monarchies like Saudi Arabia. We’re told that Washington D.C. exists specifically to protect and benefit the American public, yet the average citizen is the one constituency which has virtually no actual representation there. Helping the vulnerable doesn’t pay very well.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve be reading political stories describing the “beltway buzz” in the aftermath of the Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictments. I’ve found these articles quite instructive. The common theme is that hordes of the shady crooks who operate in D.C., and add absolutely zero value to society, are panicking that their gravy train of legalized corruption may be coming to an end.

To see what I mean, let’s examine two recently published articles. First from Politico:

Washington lobbyists who represent foreign powers have taken comfort for decades in the fact that the Justice Department rarely goes after them for potentially breaking the law. That all changed on Monday.

The two-tier justice system works quite nicely for D.C. crooks.

To continue reading: Washington D.C. is Swarming With Unaccountable Parasites

Feared, Not Loved, by Robert Gore

One of the smarter things Donald Trump said during his campaign was that the stock market was in a “free money”-fueled bubble. He told Fox Business in early August that he was out of the stock market and “warned of ‘very scary scenarios’ ahead for investors” (“Trump says he ‘got out’ of stock market,” money.cnn.com).

The nominal national debt almost doubled during George W. Bush’s presidency and almost doubled again during Obama’s, to nearly $20 trillion. Estimates vary, but that $20 trillion is one-fifth to one-tenth of the US government’s unfunded medical and pension liabilities (the US GDP in 2015 was $17.914 trillion). Government, corporate, and personal debt in the US are all greater, in absolute amounts and as a percentage of the GDP, than they were before the last debt crisis began in 2008. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has expanded by roughly five times since that crisis.

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Sometime during the next four years history’s greatest debt bubble will pop. While most watched the crash in equity futures on election night and the huge recovery and rally the following days, the truly noteworthy action has been in the bond market. The yield on the benchmark ten-year US Treasury note has jumped from 1.80% to 2.23%, or over 20 percent. Pondering Trump’s pledges to significantly increase military and infrastructure spending, cut taxes, and not touch entitlements, the market concluded that much more debt is on the way. Hence the mark-down in bond prices, the mark-up in interest rates, and an acceleration of the bear market that began in July.

If Trump is confronted with a financial and economic crash, he will have a choice. He can let it happen, or he can apply the usual nostrums—big increases in government spending, intervention, and debt, and further expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet—and keep America not great for the duration of his probable one term. In other words, he can be like Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding, or he can be like Herbert Hoover.

Wilson and then Harding did nothing to stop a depression that started towards the end of Wilson’s term in 1920; interest rates were allowed to rise. They recognized that depressions have their uses. Unsustainable debt is rescheduled or repudiated, uncompetitive companies close, assets are repriced and move from less efficient to more efficient entrepreneurs and businesses, capital goods and labor are redeployed, and the way is cleared for economic and financial renewal. That one was severe, but it was over in eighteen months and set the stage for the Roaring Twenties (see “The Forgotten Depression,” James Grant, 2014).

Hoover, faced with a similar situation, followed all the policies contemporary Washington knows and loves. The New Deal—spending, public works, expanding the debt, and economic meddling—actually began during his administration. Roosevelt merely expanded it and threw in monetary depreciation, revaluing gold against the dollar. That’s why there was no Roaring Thirties, but those policies have been standard operating procedure ever since.

If Trump wants to upend eight decades of business as usual, he’ll not fight the impending, sorely needed wash out. Coming after so many doses of consequence-delaying, zombie-maintaining Keynesian snake oil, it will be severe and global, but if allowed to happen, not necessarily prolonged. Given the weakness of the last snake-oil promoted “recovery,” more of the same will not stop or even delay the pain. It will only keep politically favored zombies alive and increase the public’s already monumental anger at bail outs. Assistance should be confined to those—and there will be many—in truly dire economic straits.

If Trump follows the conventional course his presidency will fail. If he explains where the depression came from and why he has no choice but to let it happen, the economy will contract but emerge on a sounder footing, and he has a chance of presiding over a recovery. Either way, Trump, the most polarizing president-elect since Lincoln, is not destined to be loved. He should consider Niccolò Machiavelli’s sage advice in The Prince.

And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. For of men it may generally be affirmed that they are thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them, and ready, as I said before, while danger is distant to shed their blood, and sacrifice their property, their lives and their children for you; but in the hour of need they turn against you. The Prince, therefore, who without otherwise securing himself builds wholly on their professions is undone. For the friendships which we buy with a price, and do not gain by greatness and nobility of character, though they be fairly unearned are not made good, but fail us when we have occasion to use them.

Washington must fear Trump if he is to have any chance of a successful presidency. He was elected to put fear there; his supporters will desert him if he doesn’t. He will never be loved. One enters a nest of vipers with a blowtorch. The advice Trump is getting to make nice-nice with the vipers is dangerous twaddle. If he accepts business as usual, he’s done before he starts. While everything he does must be procedurally correct and comport with the law, he has to make Washington sweat.

If you’ve ever been audited by the IRS, you know cold-sweat fear. It’s time to put the shoe on the other foot. The federal government spends almost $4 trillion a year. Past spending and current budgets cry out for a comprehensive audit. Congress passed a law twenty-five years ago mandating an audit of the Defense Department; it has yet to comply. Trillions of dollars have been wasted over that time. A team of outside auditors should examine not just Defense, but the entire federal government. Make it a requirement before any agency or department can submit its next budget.

The auditors will find not just unaccounted-for spending and sloppy bookkeeping, but diversion of funds, corruption, and criminality. Whatever they uncover should be investigated. The beauty of audits is that anybody who objects to them sounds like a venal idiot, given the US government’s well-documented record of wasteful spending. Audits would allow Trump administration to the seize the initiative and put opponents and backstabbers on the defensive. And nobody can object to subsequent investigations if that’s where the audits point.

Speaking of investigations, nothing would provoke more fear and outrage among the ruling elite than if Trump fulfilled his second-debate pledge and appointed a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton. Who knows where that might lead, including up to the departing president himself. Obama may issue a prospective pardon for the Clintons before he leaves office, but Trump should force his hand. If the Clintons are to be swept under the rug, put Obama’s fingerprints on the broom. Of course, if the Clintons have nothing to hide, no pardon will be required.

A final suggestion: as soon as possible Trump should end a US military intervention somewhere and terminate a government program, agency, or department, the bigger the better. Those would be dramatic departures from how Washington has operated for decades and save money in the coming era of fiscal austerity. Just the idea that something can actually be terminated will have the capital crowd shaking in their Guccis.

Until the swamp is drained, there is no prospect of making America great again.

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