It’s as if on election night the shocked and exasperated rulers of the Imperial City ordered Donald Trump to sleep in the White House attic. Unlike Kevin McCallister’s family in the movie, however, the establishment never stopped obsessing about his bratty insolence and never intended for him to rejoin the family the next morning – or ever.
Instead, the Washington political establishment and its collaborators in the main stream media are engaged in an unabashed and unconcealed campaign to remove the Donald from even the figurative White House attic where he now dwells with his Twitter account.
The evidence for that lies right in the threadbare and preposterous pretext for this de facto coup. Namely, the alleged Russian meddling and collusion campaign, which took another body-slam this morning in the form of son-in-law Jared Kushner’s written congressional testimony about the Trump campaign’s now endlessly ballyhooed June 2016 meeting with the "Russians".
That this meeting was a giant nothingburger should have been evident enough from the politically illiterate email of the meeting’s arranger, Rob Goldstone. The latter was a former British tabloid journalist and Vodka-chugging music world pimp, who happened to be under contract with Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star.
"Emin", as he is known Madonna-style, also happens to be the son of a Moscow real estate billionaire who had provided the venue for Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest, and has since become a pal of sorts of Donald Jr. But as it happened, the promised dirt on Hillary was only the come-on for the meeting.
The real reason is plain as day. The elder Agalarov’s company, the Crocus Group, was having trouble with the Magnitsky Act and wanted its hired attorney-advocate, one Natalia Veselnitskaya, to make a pitch on the matter to the Trumps.
So what! Actually, the shady part of this episode is the Magnitsky Act itself. The latter is just another of the Imperial City’s arrogant "sanctions" against what it deems – in its plenary moral superiority – to be the misbehavior of foreign people in their own counties.
In this case, the act was single-handedly lobbied into law based on the cock-and-bull story of an American swindler and scoundrel, Bill Browder. He happens to be the grandson of a former Communist Party candidate for Vice-President of the U.S., but his billions were made, ironically, in Russia’s post-Soviet wild west during the 1990s.
At length, Browder was invited to leave the country forthwith by Putin during his campaign to stop the plundering of Russia’s economy by foreign speculators. Whether Vlad wanted the loot for himself is beside the point. The fact is, Browder was no investment genius, and like the other western gunslingers who pillaged Russia during the Boris Yeltsin era, he essentially stole his fortune.
In any event, Rob Goldstone’s knowledge of Russia was apparently limited to Vodka brands since Ms. Veselnitskaya, was definitely not, as Goldstone’s email averred, the "Crown prosecutor of Russia". The last to hold that esteemed office was assassinated by the Bolsheviks at the time Czar Nicholas and his family were shot dead by the same in July 1918.
Nor was Ms. Veselnitskaya a "Russian government attorney" as Goldstone averred in a subsequent email, nor did she possess "very high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia".
And plainly she was not a Kremlin agent sent to America to ensnare the Donald in Putin’s lair. She didn’t even speak English and was in the US on a special visa waiver granted by the Obama Justice Department to permit her to represent a Russian national charged under the Magnitsky Act.
In short, the Trump campaign took the meeting because Goldstone had contacted them on behalf of the one major Russian family that the Donald & Sons apparently knew – and on the basis of a promise of dirty laundry about Hillary that was a complete ruse.
So today comes the smoking gun evidence. It seems that Jared Kushner sought to end the meeting within 10 minutes when it became clear Natalia was there to lobby against the Magnitsky Act, not to dump the dirt on Hillary; and Kushner has a record to prove it – a contemporaneous email he sent during the middle of the meeting:
"[I]n looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work," he says in the statement, "I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote ‘Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.’ I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently."
Another highlight: "With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any. … [T]he day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian Ambassador. … I sent an email asking [Dmitri Simes of the Center for the National Interest, which hosted a Trump foreign policy speech], ‘What is the name of the Russian ambassador?’"
This not only drowns the "Donnie Jr. did it" meme in gallons of cold water, but also puts the spotlight on the barrenness of the entire RussiaGate defamation campaign against Trump.
To wit, just as Jarred scurried-up his old emails for the Congressional investigators, there is absolutely no reason why the Donald should not do the same with respect to all of the NSA intercepts that bear on the alleged Russian hacking, meddling and collusion campaign.
As President, he has the authority to declassify them and indeed the obligation to do so. And not only to save himself, but to clarify to the American public that the Kremlin did not attack our sacred democratic process; and that rather than more idiotic "sanctions" to "punish" Russia, what needs to happen is the arrest and prosecution of the Deep State operatives and Obama Administration political hacks – Brennan, Rice, and Power, at least – who concocted, leaked and fomented among the main stream media the RussiaGate scam in the first place.
And such a Jarred-like disclosure should most especially include the single intelligence tidbit that CIA director Brennan apparently got from the Latvian security service last summer alleging Putin’s personal involvement in these activities. If the Latvians actually had a mole in Moscow who gussied-up and exaggerated what he/she knew in order to stay on the Latvian payroll, the Donald could readily offer said operative a lifetime sanctuary at one of the Trump Golf Resorts.
Yes, that’s just how ludicrous the whole story has become. As we documented last week, the global grand champion of hacking, meddling and depositing disinformation and malware in the communications systems of foreign governments is Imperial Washington itself. It should not be surprising, therefore, if some of the subjects of such constant cyber-attacks by the $75 billion U.S. intelligence community (IC) do not attempt to return the favor in kind.
But the whole thing is a giant and pointless waste of resources on all sides. The $7 billion spent by registered campaign committees in the 2016 US elections and the tens of billions more of pro-Hillary coverage generated by the main stream media – CNN, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, Politico, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and countless more – self-evidently drowned-out whatever putative disinformation was being spread by Russia Today, Sputnik, and RT television (daily audience 200k) or even by purported "useful idiots" like Contra Corner.
Unfortunately, the Donald seems content to root around the White House attic banging his Twitter account from time to time rather than attempting to govern. A better term for what he is actually doing is brawling with his media and political enemies – a foolish course of action that can have no other end game than his eventual removal from office.
But the real tragedy is that in the interim, Donald Trump is home alone. He does not even have the rudiments of a government committed to his agenda – as vague, inchoate and shape-shifting as it mainly was.
For instance, he ran his campaign under a slogan of "America First" with respect to foreign policy. If that term had any meaning it was the opposite of the Empire First policy on which the beltway’s self-importance and ungodly prosperity depends.
But he has loaded his national security team with a gaggle of Empire Firsters – including H.R. McMasters, Mad Dog Mattis, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, among countless others. All of them give obeisance to the obviously obsolete and destructive institution of Greater NATO, which now threatens the peace as it stands unnecessarily and provocatively cheek-by-jowl on Russia’s borders.
Likewise, they have advised Trump to escalate American intervention in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan – despite decades of failure and terrorist blowback; and have induced him to humiliate himself by snuggling up to the despicable Saudi royals as part of a long discredited Washington policy of tilting to the Sunnis against Shiite Iran, and of attempting to price global oil via Fifth Fleet maneuvers in the Persian Gulf rather than the far more efficacious and benign pricing mechanisms of the free market.
Now they have even got him sending lethal weapons to the Washington-installed usurpers who control Ukraine’s government in Kiev, and who are carrying on a brutal war against the autonomy-seeking Russian populations of the Donbas. In other words, even our Kevin McCallister in the White House attic is now implementing the opposite policy that he demanded in Cleveland when his operatives removed this stupid idea from the GOP’s platform.
Worse still, while he was home alone tweeting, the Washington establishment, including his own GOP leadership, was busy passing a measure to absolutely hog-tie the Donald on the urgent matter of lifting Obama’s ridiculous sanctions on Russia. And with the main stream media driving home the RussiaGate hysteria on a 24/7 basis, our Kevin McCallister won’t even be able to give it fight with a veto, as did the original Kevin when he booby-trapped the basement and foiled the burglar attacks of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
On the domestic front, it’s even worse. Trump got elected by Flyover America where a large share of America’s 160 million payroll taxpaying workers are struggling to make ends meet.
While Trump cannot immediately reverse 30 years of jobs being off-shored or easily nullify the global competitive pressures that have kept US real wage growth in the subbasement of modern history, he could have gone hammer and tong after the 15.5% combined employer/employee payroll tax.
The latter extracts $1.1 trillion per year from the business economy, where it functions as the nation’s number 1 jobs killer by unnecessarily bloating employer compensation costs; and it also extracts upwards of $4,000 per year from the average paycheck.
Instead, the beltway corporate lobbies and recidivist GOP tax cutters have saddled Trump with a corporate rate cut that can’t be even remotely financed with offsetting loophole closings, and individual tax cuts which will provide 75% of their benefits to the 20 million most affluent/wealthy households in America.
But the most egregious case of the Donald being home alone is on the overwhelming source of America’s economic decline. To wit, the Keynesian monetary central planners at the Fed and the destructive regime of Bubble Finance that they have imposed on American capitalism over the last three decades.
The Donald was surely right when he referred to the fruits of this baleful regime as "one, fat ugly bubble" during the campaign.
The fact is, these policies are savaging savers, shrinking real wages and fostering the off-shoring of millions of good jobs – even as they encourage the C-suites of corporate America to plunder their own cash flows and balance sheets with trillions of financial engineering extractions – stock buybacks, M&A deals and LBOs and leveraged recaps. The latter drastically diminish investment in productive assets and future growth, jobs and wages – even as they shower Wall Street gamblers and the 1% with unspeakable windfalls and ill-gotten gains.
Yet on that score, the Donald is home alone with the very Vampire Squid at who’s behest Bubble Finance has become the overwhelming economic force in the land. That is, his two chief economic advisors – Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin – are the latest plenipotentiaries seconded to Washington by Goldman Sachs and its Wall Street fellow travelers to insure that the stock averages are pumped ever higher – and at all hazards.
Yet now even the Keynesian posse in the Eccles Building realizes that three-decades of Bubble Finance have come to a dead end, and that it must begin to "normalize" (viz. shrink) its drastically bloated balance sheet – if for no other reason than to have "dry powder" to combat the next recession or other (inexorable) economic crisis.
Consider the implications of the graph below, however. During the long span of 50 years between 1959 and 2008, the balance sheet of the Fed crept upward about 6% per year – and even that resulted in the commodity and consumer inflation of the 1970’s, the stock market bubble of the dotcom era, and the housing and mortgage catastrophe of the Greenspan reflation after 2001.
But in the next six years, the Fed’s balance sheet grew at a 25% annual rate, thereby injecting a monetary inflation and fraud into the financial system of biblical proportions. And now our clueless monetary central planners propose to pump the air out of the giant bubble they have created without any collateral damage at all.
In fact, the collateral damage will be earthshaking and it will soon fall on the head of the nation’s Tweeter-in-chief, trundling around alone in the residence portion of the White House.
The Donald foolishly and insensibly embraced the Bubble, which was reflated in the wee hours of election night by a shocked Wall Street in order to effect one last shearing the retail sheep. And he has added insult to injury by failing to exploit what amounts to five empty seats on the Fed (including Yellen and Fischer whose chairs expire in six months).
In fact, he has turned that file over to the Vampire Squid’s men on the job. That is, to lifetime bubble riders who think Janet Yellen has done a swell job – along with Bernanke and Greenspan before – and should be considered for reappointment. Then again, if they don’t nominate themselves or another Wall Street operative.
Needless to say, at 25X profits on the S&P 500, 87X earnings on the Russell 2000 and 190X and 217X on the meager profits of Amazon and Netflix, respectively, Wall Street is sitting on the precipice of an imminent implosion.
Ironically, the Donald could have punctured the bubble and launched a top-to-bottom house-cleaning at the Fed on Jan. 20, while blaming the Fed’s incumbents and Obama. Now it is way too late – the Bubble will implode, but the Donald will get all the blame.
At some time soon thereafter, they will come for him with helicopter engines running. Unlike Kevin McCallister’s excellent adventure, however, the Donald’s exercise in being Home Alone won’t end in reunification with the rulers who originally sent him to the attic.
David Stockman has agreed to send every Antiwar.com reader a free copy of his newest book, Trumped! when you take his special Contra Corner offer. Click here now for the details.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.