by Dan Kurz, CFA, DK Analytics:
The good: “Red state” Americans, yours truly included, are grateful that President Trump is calling out the fake news for what it is: fake — and out to get any powerbrokers that threaten its pervasive media dominance. Clearly, a media with a revolving-door to bureaucrats has facilitated unprecedented industry consolidation since President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The increasingly incestuous, oligopolistic relationship between big government and big business has resulted in a crony press that rivals the Pravda (“truth”) press in the former USSR. Thus, instead of news and a check on increasingly abusive government power as the Framers intended, the misnamed “Main Stream Media” (MSM) has been generating propaganda supportive of an increasingly fascist regime, i.e., the US government.
Billionaire real estate and successful entertainment tycoon Donald Trump refused to become part of today’s MSM quid pro quo. He didn’t have to, nor did he want to. Instead, he took his “America First” (including bringing jobs back home) message to “flyover country” via the Internet/his Twitter account and as supplemented by his frequent, rousing, and well-attended speeches. Critically, he was also backed by the one largely anti-leftist entity in the MSM, ratings dominating Fox News, which has long resonated with “red state” Americans. Thus, the battle lines were drawn. An all-out MSM backlash against this nonconformist ensued, and “news” morphed even more completely into statist, anti-Trumppropaganda, a.k,a., fake news. It wasn’t only fabricated stories, one-sided allegations or quotes taken out of context, but utter and complete suppression by the vast majority of the MSM of lawless behaviorby those positioned at the top echelons of federal power during the prior administration as well as unconstitutional behavior being carried forward into the current administration and into the 115th US Congress.
The Trump administration, however compromised, appears to be making a largely clandestine effort(via sealed indictments) to smoke out the “deep state” (the unelected bureaucracy and its hangers-on both inside and outside the government) lawlessness it has been a victim of. Any success here, no matter how unlikely given the de facto “broad daylight conspiracy” — criminal decision makers keeping quiet buttressed by their staffs wanting to maintain the huge bureaucracy’s unconstitutional power, their outsized compensation and their privileged benefits status quo — would be monumental. Such an achievement could spark a rule of law revival, arresting our B.R. trajectory. Meanwhile, a strategic return to greater constitutional fidelity is getting a sorely needed lift by Trump’s fine judge/justice selections!
Trump’s integrity. Is it there, when it counts, beyond his stellar judge selections and beyond the fact that he isn’t an “unindicted felon,” i.e., Hillary Clinton? This isn’t an idle concern, for integrity begets and nourishes credibility, which is critical to a president’s “bully pulpit” efficacy in “troubled times.” Some worrisome signs include:
- His real estate developer exploitation of the property rights-curdling Kelo New London decisionsuggests neither fidelity to a constitutional anchor (property rights tied at hip to liberty) nor to the lot of everyday Americans.
- His tabloidesque remarks about Ted Cruz’s dad being involved in the JFK assassination give further pause.
- His debate claim of putting Hillary in jail if he’s elected only to pathetically comment, once president-elect, that “Hillary Clinton had suffered enough” is disingenuous at best.
- His apt campaign claims that the low unemployment rate was fake, the recovery was the weakest ever, and the stock market was a bubble susceptible to an interest rate spike morphed into the lowest unemployment rate since the turn of the century, the best economy ever, and the best stock marketever once he sat in the oval office.
- From vowing to crack down on illegal immigration and erecting a wall on the southern border, Trump’s 1.8m “pre-wall” amnesty proposal threatens to effectively “green-light” the very illegal, third world immigration that has led to a massive transfer of property from citizens to aliens while thwarting wages and Balkanizing America.
- From railing against Goldman Sachs cronyism and globalism on the campaign trail to a GS-laced Trump cabinet!
- From vowing to shrink the federal government once elected, Trump signed legislation which further bloats it.
Instead of being honest about the long, tough road ahead to bring America back to manufacturing strength (reindustrialization takes time!), Trump has preferred exerting unconstitutional pressure on select manufacturers to highlight US job preservation thanks to his intervention, even as a closer look at such “agreements” disclosed heightened taxpayer expense and producers’ expanded outsourcing options. How does one spell demagoguery?
A potential Trump trade war is a huge risk to both the US and the global economy, but the US is especially vulnerable. This is due to America’s largely self-inflicted manufacturing enfeeblement, its huge net dependency on foreign goods (just go to WalMart’s non-grocery aisles) and foreign financing, and its dependency on continued widespread overseas acceptance of dollar-based trade, … despite America’s $7.9trn net debtor status vis-à-vis the rest of the world, over $21trn in US debt, and the US’s decade-long $1trn plus average yearly expansion in federal debt. Some reflections: