POITOU, FRANCE – In professional wrestling, scriptwriters always include what they call a “Holy Sh*t!” moment.
That’s when one of the stars takes a hit so brutal or so fantastic that the fans yell: “Holy sh*t!”
Donald J. Trump, a wrasslin’ fan, took a “Holy Sh*t!” blow on Tuesday.
Jerks and Jackasses
We will set the stage as follows: The struggle now breaking out in the U.S. is a battle of the gods.
On one side are the gods of the red states. Nationalism, protectionism, cronyism, and “conservativism,” with their shock troops and fringe yahoos – the Ku Kluxers, Wallace Democrats, and other almost comic throwbacks (called by Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, a “collection of clowns”) dressed in camouflage and sporting symbols of various Aryan splinter groups so sharp and sinister that even the Nazis couldn’t stand them.
On the other side are the gods of the blue states – globalism, zombyism, diversity, and “liberalism.” They, too, have their looney tunes.
Yes, Donald Trump was right: There are jerks and jackasses on “many sides.”
On the left are enforcers, too – militant whackos of the “Antifa” (anti-fascist) brigades, dressed in black with masks like the 1930s fascists they say they oppose… radicalized LGBTQQ… Black Lives Matter… man-hating feminists… and tenured professors from the 1960s, who voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and now cling desperately to Foucault and Botox, loudly chanting in favor of diversity and free speech as they push anyone who disagrees with them off the stage.
Yes, poor Donald is right about a lot of things. He is a skilled street fighter… a practiced brawler… a lusty scrapper. But he is woefully unprepared for the battle now upon him.
Big, Brash, and Bold
The president spent his entire career building his brand – big, brash, bold… and somewhat buffoonish.
Like a professional wrestler, he was able to charm the crowds with his brawling style and winner image.
Pick fights. Say outrageous things. Stay in the public eye. Slam his opponents with scurrilous or irrelevant epithets (“Little Marco” Rubio… “Bleeding From a Facelift” Mika Brzezinski… etc.).
Substance didn’t really matter. Trump steaks? Trump University? Trump Airlines? How could any human being possibly be good at so many different things?
Of course, he couldn’t. He just had to be good at building the Trump brand. And that meant sticking to his swashbuckling, confident style.
He was even able to take his brand all the way to the White House, using the same techniques on the campaign trail that he used on his reality TV show.
And once he took office, the plan was simple. He would surround himself with the top guys from the Deep State – the moneymen and the gunmen… the Goldman guys and the generals – and he would go on being Trump.
But something went wrong.
Mr. Trump seems genuinely perplexed by it. The economy is strong, he says. He claims to have “created 1 million new jobs,” which is certainly a lie. But who cares?
Consumer and business confidence are at cyclical highs. The stock market remains near an all-time high, surely a sign that things are as good as they possibly could be… and that the future will be even better.
And he, the president, is doing exactly what he is supposed to do – distracting the crowds while zombies feed upon them and cronies pick their pockets.
People should be happy, he thinks. They should be enjoying the show. Instead, the battle of the gods grows more intense and mean.
And the mainstream media – which was supposed to play along by engaging in pointless, showy squabbles with the president – has turned vicious.
Battle of the Gods
Then, on Tuesday, Mr. Trump seemed to forget his own lines.
The president was giving a press conference on infrastructure. It was meant to highlight how his administration was ripping out the regulations that stymie the economy. (No explanation was offered as to how business could be so good even as it labors under such crushing restrictions.)
Instead, the press wanted to catch him up in the battle of the gods… and he couldn’t resist the trap.
For the first time, we felt sympathy with the president. He seemed genuinely interested and earnest… trying to explain the recent violence in Charlottesville as he saw it.
Yes, he had waited (he claimed) because he thought he should withhold judgment until he had more facts…
…yes, there were bad people in Charlottesville… but the Unite the Right protesters weren’t all bad…
…yes, once you start tearing down other people’s statues – along with their heroes, gods, and myths – you are asking for trouble…
…and yes, there are intolerant provocateurs on the other side, too.
All of those things seem sensible. Probably even true.
But the brand suffered. Where was the winner?
On the Ropes
“The Donald” was no longer sparring with the press; he was being clobbered by it.
He was no longer the fleet-footed impresario, taunting reporters… and his growing list of enemies.
Now, he was on the ropes… a cut above the eye and slightly disoriented… trying to protect himself from the blows by digging into the substance of the charges against him.
It was as though he were taking the job seriously – uncharacteristically trying to understand what was going on and resisting facile prejudices rather than just rolling with the punches and letting the press misinform the people according to its professional principles.
It was as though he had forgotten the script. He had taken off his wrasslin’ outfit. He had on a suit and tie and was trying to not just act presidential, but be presidential… and to help people understand that there was more going on than the simple narrative coming from the Fourth Estate.
But it was too late for that. Reporters weren’t interested in the facts… or what they really meant.
Even New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg was backing away from her own eyewitness account. She had seen the far-left demonstrators who “seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right” and reported that she “saw club-wielding Antifa beating white nationalists.”
Later, when she realized that she had offended her gods, she amended her story, saying the leftists were “standing up to hate.”
By this time, no one, with the apparent exception of the president of the United States, was interested in what really happened. The press was on to a different story – Trump himself.
They pummeled him with questions… they jabbed him with accusations… each one trying to deliver the haymaker punch that would land him a job at The Washington Post.
The president fought back, sometimes ably. He avoided a knockout…
…but “Holy sh*t!”
More to come…
Editor’s Note: Not long ago, Team Trump reached out to Bill’s network for advice on the economy. In response, Bill’s team sent this memo to the White House. The memo detailed a coming economic crisis 30 years in the making, one far more severe than the crisis of 2007–2008. We recently made that memo public so readers can get all the details and learn how to start preparing. Read on here.
Market Insight: The Best Post-Crisis Investments
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE, Bonner & partners
What were the best investments of the last 10 years?
Today’s chart tracks the three best places to have put your money since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007.
As you can see, gold has been the second most profitable investment of the major asset classes over the past 10 years, with a gain of 94%.
But it’s surpassed by European junk bonds – bonds issued by companies that carry a high risk of default – which returned 99%.
And it’s closely followed by U.S. junk bonds, which returned 80%.
This demonstrates the power of contrarian investing.
Junk bonds are one of the riskiest bets on the planet. Most investors were dumping them as fast as they could in 2007, as cracks started to show in the financial system.
But if you’d gone against the consensus… and held on for the long term… you would have doubled your investment.
– Chris Lowe
The Fiduciary Rule Unearths Brokers’ Dirty Secret
The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule is simple. It requires brokers to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. It’s early days for the rule, but it’s already brought to light a blatant conflict of interest.
Amazon Borrows Money More Cheaply Than Countries
Amazon got a good deal on its recent $16 billion debt financing… really good. The company can now borrow money more cheaply than China, Mexico, and Russia.
Bitcoin: Your Best Defense in the War on Cash?
One of bitcoin’s biggest appeals to its users is that it’s not regulated by a government or central bank. Could cryptocurrencies be the best way to take back control of your money?
In today’s mailbag, readers consider what should be done with Confederate statues…
Your letter about the statues being torn down was mild compared to my reaction to the recent events. Monuments are raised to remember people and/or events that are considered valuable, not good or pure, to our ever-changing culture and times. Destroying them is akin to burning books and it is hideous to me how easily so many in our current country cannot see the similarities.
We don’t change history nor the hearts and minds of human beings by taking down statues that we choose to associate with racism instead of facing the challenges they pose based on the reasons they were constructed. I see very little, if any, difference between the mentality of U.S. anarchists destroying these statues and any other anarchists destroying works of art throughout history.
– Brian B.
They tore down statues of the stated “tyrants” of former times, are we now witnessing “Deja vu” all over again in his country? We repeat the same errors of the past expecting different results. Why don’t we instead leave these Confederate statues up and provide plaques to show the thinking of the time?
This is not what these revisionists want but total control of thinking and conversation. How do you forge ahead when you can’t face where you came from?
– Dave E.
To equate white supremacists with all things Confederate is wrong-headed. Statues of Confederate soldiers are historical in the South, and should be seen that way where they exist, and not hijacked for political correctness.
– Michael C.
I don’t really understand this zeal to pretend the Civil War never happened, or that there are people who don’t still sympathize with the Confederacy’s inhumane purpose. It is a part of our history. We should not ignore it or be revisionists in any way. In Germany you see huge anti-aircraft bunkers repurposed into apartments and stores. Germans don’t pretend the Nazis never happened… Quite the opposite. They wear their shame with conviction and sincerity.
We should not tear down monuments just because they reflect a time in which stolen people were enslaved unjustly.
Unless they erect a Trump monument… some things we should just say “no” to upfront. He is a wonderful lesson as to what happens when we stuff racism and bigotry and bullying just beneath the surface, and then pretend it’s vanished.
– James L.
As a son of the South, I was raised with the certain knowledge that the “War of Northern Aggression” was not about slavery but about states’ rights, fear of economic hegemony, and something comfortingly called the Southern way of life. It was not until I read the primary sources for myself that I learned the truth.
Let me direct you to four original sources – and there are others: the Cornerstone Speech, the South Carolina and Mississippi Declaration of Causes “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery” and the Texas Letter of Secession “…hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color – a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law.”
The secessionists were not at all coy about their motivations. Unlike your metaphorical isotopes, historical facts do not fade away. They persist. It took me years to see through the gauzy mythology of the South. What people call “Southern heritage” is founded on three things:
The myth of white supremacy…
The practice of racial subjugation,
And the institution of slavery and of slavery’s child, segregation.
There is no need to lionize Confederates like Robert E. Lee. For all his admirable qualities, we should see Gen. Lee for what he was – a failed insurrectionist who deserves scorn, not glorification.
– Billy T.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin remain a popular topic.
Are there any cryptocurrencies that deal with cybersecurity? It seems this would solve a lot of issues if a cryptocurrency could be used without imposing a significant delay in communications time.
– Patrick F.
Cryptocurrencies make tulip bulbs look good in value. Haven’t you read Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841? Cryptos only represent a belief that they have value. When people realize they are less valuable than tulip bulbs their price will only go one way.
– Richard T.
If the government can make sweeping changes to our money (taking us off the gold standard) what’s to stop them from manipulating these cryptocurrencies to suit their purposes?
– Greg D.
Cryptocurrencies exist in electronic form only and are not designed or intended to be fungible. Does this mean it has less intrinsic value because you cannot touch it? I’d say no, and I think that’s the answer of many today and will continue to be as time goes by.
I agree with Bill that time is the most valuable thing that mankind possesses, but at least today, it’s impossible for me to take a day out of my life and use it as a medium of exchange. In this brave, new world, acceptability and perceived value can, and currently seem to, replace “fungible” as a characteristic of “real money.”
Gold has its place today and it may have a greater or reduced place in the future, but the advantages that cryptos have over lugging around gold coins or bricks will ultimately make them extremely attractive as a store of value and a medium of exchange.
– Chris J.
In Case You Missed It…
There’s been a lot of talk in the Diary recently about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin…
If you’re curious about cryptos, we recommend you watch this online presentation from our colleague and cryptocurrency expert Teeka Tiwari.
Teeka will show you what’s causing these cryptocurrencies to surge higher and, if you’re interested, how they can secure your chance to see life-changing gains. Watch for free