From the day of his arrival in the White House, Donald Trump has used every signalling opportunity to fill the air with smoke, dry ice, fog and heavy snow….only then to fall into a well-camouflaged elephant trap. In the context of a triumphalist Alt State, the American MSM needs to rethink its mission. It needs to move on from lowest common denominator Trump-bashing tabloid to a higher order of considered investigative opposition. But does it have the balls for the task? The Slog offers an analysis.
When I finally caught up with President Trump’s decision to give Janet Yellen’s creaking chair to Jerome Powell, my heart didn’t so much sink as sort of drift away on a small Kon Tiki raft in search of new lands. At moments like that, one understands perfectly, at one and the same time, both what the original Mayflower puritans sought – and also how much their aims have been perverted.
Ever since he joined the US Federal Reserve as a Governor in 2012, Jerome Powell has been a loyal foot-soldier in the élite barmy army that backs Yellenist fantasies about massive QE and Zirp (along with a barrowload of tapering lies) being a measured response to untargeted credit. Slow and steady is best, Mr Powell thinks: unfortunately, he also seems a little slow to grasp the successful campaign by Wall Street to dilute, undermine and reverse all the measures we were told would ensure that 2008 “never happens again”.
The FT described his appointment to the Fed Chair last Friday as ‘only the start’. In which case, I’m bound to observe that Powell’s accession marks the start of more of the denialist fairyland we had before the start thing. It doesn’t strike me as the start of something good: what I see here is a feather gently applied to dust off the cast. I do not hear the sound of breaking moulds.
Jerome Powell is moderate, he is middle, he is mediocre. He is collaboration, he is consensus, but chiefly he is continuity.
He is, in short, the last thing we need.
To understand this opinion, you have to accept one simple truth about macro-economic data: they do not measure what is, but rather that which suits the neoliberal monetarist narrative.
This is not wild, ideologically-driven Marxist wish-fulfilment….it is an easily verifiable conclusion based on analysis of the endless contradictions in such data across the world. In previous posts this year, I have tried to show that gdp and earnings growth, inflation rates and unemployment numbers use an injudicious mixture of selective measurement, silly estimates and voluntarily applied blinkers in an attempt to suggest that God is in his Heaven – albeit not in the detail. Thousands of other online commentators share the same perspective, by the way: this is not singleton primary source analysis by me.
Last week’s US payroll data is as good a support for my viewpoint as you’ll find. For while the alleged “rate” of unemployment across the Atlantic is going down, the level of participation in the workforce is going down too. In a mathematically 3-dimensional universe such as ours, this is an impossibility: nearly a million Americans left the US workforce in October 2017, pushing the number of economically inactive working age US adults to a record 95 million.
That comes to a real unemployment rate of 20%.
But the official unemployment rate fell again, in that same month, to 4.1%. And in unrelated news, Lee Harvey Oswald got off three shots at JFK from two different directions (involving one unfeasibly varietal trajectory) in Dallas.
Graphically, this participation table shows the real nature of RightWayUp:
Since the start of the new millenium, the LFPR has fallen steadily to the crisis level of 1978, shortly after the oil-price reset recession.
And yet somehow, the US is NOT in recession….oooooh nononononono, certainly not. It is in the midst of a joyously Jobless Recovery that somehow means 96 American adults out of 100 have a job. Of course they do. It stands to reason ibble gobble ubble dabble. All you have to do is include QE in the gdp calculation, and ignore the 7.6% of Americans who have given up looking for a job. (NB – 7.6% is a bigger number than 4.1%)
Here’s the worrying thing: Powell was an Obama nomination to the Fed’s governing Board. Donald Trump was going to shake up everything Obama did. But just as Obama stayed with Tim Geithner, President Trump has now promoted Jerome Powell to the top Fed Reserve job.
This raises an obvious question in relation to the Trump White House’s policies as a whole: is The Donald merely his own worst enemy, or is he in reality The Man in the Iron Mask?
For me, the previous week saw the strongest evidence yet that the President is not a free man. In classically bombastic and boastful style, the nation’s Chief Executive trailered on Twitter a teaser campaign about the JFK assassination files. All would be revealed, he vowed, to the accompaniment (as usual) of exclamation marks. Having had eleven years to consider how to handle the release date, the CIA and FBI waited until the day before The Big One before telling DJT he could stick his great revelation up the nearest back passage.
There are two elements in that farce to explain why Trump is The Prisoner not The President. First, the casually sadistic way in which the Alt State chose to award the least possible dignity to the man in the Oval Office. The message could not have been clearer: “The grassy knoll is available should you require it as an option, sir”. And second, Donald himself. President Trump just doesn’t see the elephant pits coming. His infantile ego is in permanently engorged tumescence mode; you can almost hear his brain’s reasoning: “I’m the President. I call the shots. This is my touchdown, and nobody can stop me…gee fellas, it’s dark down here….whatTF happened?”
When the people in one’s entourage work for you in name only, it’s tricky. Trust me, I’ve been there a couple of times, and it’s very frustrating. If the executive officer in that situation is at one and the same time unable to grasp his predicament, the dilemma moves up a level of potential destruction to explosive. And if – just to add to such woes – there is a bush telegraph united in opposition to your existence per se, full-on civil war breaks out.
The problem in the US is that the Bush Telegraph is also The Clinton Post, The Obama Times and the Bloomberg Bugle.
Almost nobody in the American establishment likes Trump. Love or loathe the bloke, he is a one-off: he does not have any congressional training to fall back on, he hijacked the Republican Party because he knows all independent candidates are no-hopers, he scores zero on tact, his previous jobs were not in Hollywood, the CIA or the military, and he hates all forms of arch pc. Not even Eisenhower or Kennedy ticked all those toxic boxes.
But Ike did famously warn about the military industrial complex. And given he was just about the most famous general of the Second World War, it behoves even the most rigid Hillarytarian to heed the wisdom of that essentially decent Repulican. Because let’s face it, only George Orwell beats him when it comes to prescience.
Donald Trump is business street-wise, but he is a babe in arms when it comes to Washington. Worse still, he might hate banks and have grave doubts about the State Department, but he is in awe of Generals and Wall Street . He flunked his Bay of Pigs Moment over Syria, he appointed Gary Cohn as his Chief Economic Adviser, and chose H R McMaster as his National Security chief.
From here on, those who proudly consider themselves “liberal” in the US and elsewhere need to apply parts of their brain beyond the kneejerk Right Hemisphere synapse. If the Democrats really want to be rid of a confrontational State Department, anti-manufacturing financialised bourses and Pentagon warrior hawks, then they simply cannot allow the President (even if he’s not their President) to be swallowed by the swamp he promised to drain. Rejoicing in his death by drowning will solve nothing.
I am not asking the US establishment media pack to like Trump. What I think they need to do is stop trashing, and start investigating…..minus the ideological blinkers.
They need, for example, to examine the real facts behind the “Assad gas attack” on his own citizens. They need to dig into the infamous history of Gary Cohn in relation to conspiracy to defraud the European Union. They should also apply a microscope to H R McMaster’s career.
In August 2008, McMaster assumed duties as the Director of Concept Development and Experimentation (later renamed Concept Development and Learning), in the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia, part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. His job description at the time called his task ‘preparing doctrine to guide the Army over the next ten to twenty years.‘
Herbert Raymond McMaster is at the very core of the Alt State’s global hegemony project: by July 2014, he’d been promoted to Deputy Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command. Now he is Numero Uno on the White House staff, purging every last element of radical open-mindedness therein. Quite how mainstream American journalists can hold their heads up high while leaving this lunatic ideologue alone baffles me. All I can say is, the time for staring at their feet is over.
The choice has never been clearer for any hack in favour of holding unelected privilege to account. It is high time all of them – from Fox News to The Washington Post – ventured beyond their tribally political stockades, and set out on a mission to give all decent, thinking Americans back their right to speak truth unto power.
There is no shortage of targets: lobbyists for bankers and arms dealers, a Fed Reserve that is a Wall Street lapdog, madcap Generals, credit cheats, ballot stuffers, all undue influencers called Trump and Clinton, sexual abuse liars, hardcore paedophiles, State Department, CIA and Pentagon collusion with Jihadists, bureaucrats churning out hopelessly inaccurate data, climate change CO2 scams….the list is virtually endless.
But the question remains: do the sheep have the genes to throw off their carnivorous farmers?
We shall see. Just don’t hold your breath.