Brand Made Flesh
News media can barely keep up with The Don...
"TRUMP did this...Trump did that..." writes Bill Bonner in his Diary of a Rogue Economist.
The news media can barely keep up with him.
Sometimes, the calumnies against the president are idle gossip. Sometimes, they greatly understate the magnitude of the crime.
He "disrespects" a dead soldier, says one report. He "thinks he owns a Renoir," says another.
He bombs a military base in Syria (with which we are not at war) because he thinks its government has gassed its own citizens (which it didn't).
As we explored yesterday, the White House is controlled – barely – neither by party, nor by ideology...nor even by a coherent biped.
It is home to a brand, made flesh in Donald J.Trump...and made president by the Electoral College.
The significance of this needs to be put in perspective – like putting a nun in front of a whorehouse – to give it scale and clarity.
We do so now hoping to get a better picture...connecting the dots between Trump, the Deep State, the evolving US government, and its fake money system. We will go slowly, if you don't mind, making a wide, flanking movement, to get the largest view.
Let us begin with the news.
One of the top items has been the death of the latest GOP attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. From The Hill: "24 hours later, Senate health deal all but completely dead."
What was this deal? Who would have benefitted? At whose expense?
States? Insurance companies? The long-term ill? The young? The old?
Our hearty congratulations and deep sympathies to anyone who has taken the time and trouble to figure it out...if it were possible. Here at the Diary, we came away from reading the news as ignorant as we were when we clicked on the story.
Without hours of study, deep meditation, and divine revelation, you cannot possibly understand what they are talking about.
But for every ZIP code full of people without a clue, there are a handful of insiders in the Washington DC area who know to the penny how much they were going to make from it.
For example, there was said to be $110 million in the program for "advertising" – for encouraging people to get something for nothing from the feds, as though that were necessary.
From our experience in the trade, most advertising is probably a waste of money. And for advertising something like this – without any clear objectives and no known return on investment – you might as well just put the money directly into the pockets of the media cronies who will end up with it.
Surely, on Wednesday morning there was more than one PR hack looking forward to getting his hands on that money; most likely he had already put a down payment on a new house in Chevy Chase...and an advance tuition payment for his son at Tufts.
An obvious point: It is not possible for the average citizen to know what the government is up to. Only the insiders, the lobbyists, and the swamp critters know.
But we go further: It is not possible for Congress to know either.
Whence cometh that $110 million figure? Why $110 million and not $120 million? What difference will it make?
It may be big money to us, but there is probably more than that in small change under the seat cushions in the Senate lounge. Who would get it? For what? What good would it achieve?
Not a single member of Congress knows.
If called upon, some "expert" would slither up to a microphone, dripping with swamp scum, and justify it.
He would solemnly report that, without the appropriation, all the devils of Hell would be unleashed upon us...and all of Western civilization would be in danger. Later, he would settle into a comfy leather booth at the Capital Grille and count his money.
You may think this $110 million advertising budget escapes notice only because it is so trivial.
Surely, larger programs get a thorough scrutinizing from the people's representatives?
But you would be wrong...
Recall that no member of Congress even read the O'care bill, even though it affected nearly one-sixth of the economy.
As former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously put it at the time: "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it..."
The bill was duly passed. Seven years later, we still don't know exactly what's in it. In this context, we look at another news dot. From the Los Angeles Times:
"In kicking his top priorities to Congress, President Trump is setting the stage – intentionally or not – for weeks of messy horse-trading that may culminate in a year-end standoff to avoid another government shutdown. [...] [H]is own flip-flops on key issues have left lawmakers unable to trust the White House's leadership and uncertain how to resolve the most thorny policy disputes."
So, what do we see?
Perhaps wisely, the executive branch is incapable...and uninterested...in the details of legislation. It is busy distracting the voters.
Voters, meanwhile, are easily misled...easily confused...and too busy trying to keep up with their Facebook updates to know what is really going on.
Nor can the legislative branch possibly manage the minutiae of complex programs...or resolve the many conflicts that arise between ideological claptrap and self-serving larceny.
Where does that leave us?
Who actually governs? What kind of government is it? And what does this have to do with the world of money, which is our beat here at the Diary?
As always, more to come...