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Conceits and Illusions
The geriatric jackasses turning America's exceptional past into a tawdry future...
Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Dublin, Ireland...
…how unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are. They're completely irrelevant. They mean nothing.
~ Tucker Carlson
We follow neither politics nor the media, here at Bonner Private Research. But in the last few days two things happened in those sectors – and both may affect the sector we do cover, money. Tucker Carlson was fired from his top spot at Fox News. And Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., announced his campaign for president. Today and Monday, we look at what they have in common.
But first, on the money front, Bloomberg reports:
US in ‘Worst of Both Worlds’ With High Inflation, GDP Slowdown
Gross domestic product rose an annualized 1.1% in the first quarter, notably less than the median forecast for 1.9% in Bloomberg’s survey, Bureau of Economic Analysis data showed Thursday.
Frustratingly for the Fed, the central bank’s preferred core gauge of prices, which excludes food and energy, picked up to 4.9% in the January-through-March period, the quickest pace in a year.
Slower growth. Higher prices. What do you call that? Stag…something. Stag hunting? Stag party? No…stagflation! Thanks.
And as to the ‘stag’ part, our old friend Richard Russell used to say that you can tell when a recession is really here when ‘the transports go down.’ When the trucks stop rolling, you know, the orders are drying up. Here’s the latest from the Wall Street Journal:
Sliding Diesel Prices Signal Warning for U.S. Economy
A nationwide freight slowdown has helped cut U.S. diesel prices by half from last year’s record, raising concerns that parts of the world’s largest economy have begun to slow.
Wholesale diesel recently fell to $2.65 a gallon in New York Harbor, down from $5.34 last May, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent commodity markets haywire and turned prices advertised at gas stations into street-level reminders of inflation’s 40-year highs. Record diesel costs made it more expensive to operate excavators at construction sites, run machinery on farms, and haul goods from ports, rail yards or factory floors.
But let us leave that – like a whiff of diesel fuel on our hands after filling up the car – and get back in the driver’s seat.
At least one of our readers abandoned us. We were “too un-American,” he said. Several have complained (especially during the reign of Donald Trump) that we spent too much time overseas and had lost touch with our roots.
But our roots were never far away. We appreciate the native American oak as much as anyone. It’s the parasites up in the branches and the rotten wood in the center that we have never been fond of.
We’re speaking specifically about the ‘deciders’ and how they decided that they should make the decisions for the whole world. We are the ‘indispensable nation,’ as Madeleine Albright put it; they can’t live without us.
The problem, to put it succinctly, is that America can no longer afford its conceits and illusions. With prices rising, we can no longer just ‘print’ money to pay for them. Finally, people are saying so.
There was a time when the tree was vigorous – exceptionally open, exceptionally free, and exceptionally prosperous. It was not perfect, by any means…but it was different from other nations. At least you could laugh at it in public; and even The New York Times would protect its sources and challenge the politicians.
No more. America is still exceptionally amusing, but no longer free or prosperous…and The New York Times turns whistleblowers over to the FBI!
The geriatric jackasses – Biden, Pelosi, McConnell, Feinstein…Republican and Democrat – have made a mess of things. Their fiscal and monetary policies have been delusional failures. Trillions of dollars’ worth of ‘stimulus’ spending have slowed GDP growth, cut real wages, saddled the country with $93 trillion in debt, rewarded the rich with higher asset prices, made the poor dependent on handouts and brought consumer price inflation to everyone.
But none of this was what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., had in mind when he announced his candidacy for president of the USA. Instead, he took aim at another grandiose failure: the American empire.
"As President, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will start the process of unwinding the empire. We will bring the troops home. We will stop racking up unpayable debt to fight one war after another. The military will return to its proper role of defending our country. We will end the proxy wars, bombing campaigns, covert operations, coups, paramilitaries, and everything else that has become so normal most people don’t know it’s happening. But it is happening, a constant drain on our strength. It’s time to come home and restore this country."
"When a warlike imperial nation disarms of its own accord, it sets a template for peace everywhere. It is not too late for us to voluntarily let go of empire and serve peace instead, as a strong and healthy nation."
A Phalanx of Phony
As far as we know, Mr. Kennedy is the first and only candidate to openly recognize that the US ain’t the indispensable nation it used to be…and to call for an end to the grotesque thing it has become.
But the candidate understates the cost. In his campaign announcement, he referred to the Pentagon’s $800 billion budget. But the cost of maintaining the empire is far higher. Winslow Wheeler included all the obvious costs – the Pentagon budget, 800 US military bases around the world…planes, tanks, diversity training and other paraphernalia…
…and also added in the indirect costs…such as foreign aid, embassies, caring for veterans, etc. It was he who came to the $1.5 trillion figure. And this money has little to do with “defense” or “protecting the country.” America may have been exceptional, in the early days. Americans never were. Like all others, they are prey to the weaknesses to which flesh is heir – pride, sloth, lust, greed – and vanity. They could no more resist the lure of empire than a dipsomaniac could resist a vodka tonic.
As we were flying back to Ireland a couple of weeks ago, for example, there was Air Force One on the asphalt. Joe Biden was visiting. But there was Air Force Two too…just as big. And a whole phalanx of black vans, military and spook personnel, and an entourage that must have numbered in the hundreds. The trip – which was of no apparent benefit to the US – was just part of the posturing, politicking and pontificating that goes on all the time.
NPR reported that the trip was “deeply personal.”
Then, why didn’t he just fly United, like the rest of us?
More to come…