Congress Is a Carnival of Claptrap

While Hurricane Irma whips up some of the strongest winds ever recorded, the fury of the storm breaking over Washington is intensifying, too.

‘For Conservatives, Trump’s Deal with Democrats Is Nightmare Come True,’ reports The New York Times.

As expected, President Trump’s economic team — led by lifelong Democrats and Goldman alum Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn — has made a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Chopped liver

The Deep State needs to raise the debt ceiling, almost immediately.

Conservative members of Congress are reluctant to go along — not without assurances that spending and borrowing will be brought under control. So the Trump debt pushers turned to their natural allies — the Democrats — to get the votes they need.

We don’t need to tell you that Senate Minority Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi are not getting on board simply to enjoy the ride.

They know where they want to go. They have cronies to pay off. And zombies to protect.

That is, they have their own win-lose deals to make.

But a deal with the liberal Dems threatens the barely coherent solidarity of the Republican Party. ‘What about us?’ ask the conservatives. ‘What are we, chopped liver?’

GOP schism

And if there’s a schism between the traditional, conservative wing of the GOP and the White House, what’s left of the Trump program?

His ‘America First’ foreign policy has already been ditched. So has any hope of cutting entitlements.

As for the other departments and agencies of the federal government, nobody knows what is going on, including the people who run them.

The only thing still on the table, as of yesterday morning, was tax reform.

And now, that’s gone, too. It’s difficult to pull off major tax changes, even with solid support in Congress; there are so many contradictory special interests to reconcile. And without strong party discipline, it is impossible to build the kind of delicate consensus you need to reform the complicated tax system.

But all that is well-rehearsed in the mainstream press. Here, for example, is The New York Times on the subject:

It is the scenario that President Trump’s most conservative followers considered their worst nightmare, and on Wednesday it seemed to come true: The dealmaking political novice, whose ideology and loyalty were always fungible, cut a deal with Democrats.

If Mr. Trump’s agreement with the two Democratic leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, to increase the debt limit and finance the government for three months did not yet represent the breaking point between the president and his core, hard-right base of support, it certainly put him closer than he has ever been to tipping his fragile political coalition into open revolt.

And here’s CNN:

Now nothing will get done between now and Dec. 15,’ one Republican aide told CNN in an email. ‘You think people will vote for a budget now?

Degenerate empire

You can find that news on TV. And in the newspapers.

Here at the Diary, though, it is just prelude. Here, we aim to connect bigger dots.

Of interest to us is not the low, day-to-day comedy in Washington, but what it means:

It doesn’t matter what Trump thinks. It doesn’t matter what we think. It doesn’t matter who you vote for. It doesn’t matter if there is a colossal crash visible ahead or not. Now underway is the train of history; it ain’t gonna stop for nobody.

You can choose your own date, but we take 1917 as the date the wheels really began to turn.

Exactly 100 years ago, US troops arrived in Europe — at the rate of 10,000 a day — to take part in a fight in which they had no dog.

That — along with the Spanish-American War and the ‘Revolution of 1913’ (Federal Reserve…income tax…direct election of Senators) — marked the transformation of the Old American Republic into the new US Empire.

An empire is not the same as a republic. As an empire grows and matures, everything within it bends and warps.

The words and forms remain the same. So do the myths and delusions of the earlier era.

People still think voting matters, for example, even though the real power has moved from the many in the electorate to the few in the Deep State.

Irrelevant legislature

In ancient Rome, the Senate and popular assemblies ruled for hundreds of years. They considered the issues gravely and decided the matters before them earnestly, guiding the Republic through wars, famines, and rebellions.

Then, after Augustus, real power moved to the executive. The republic was replaced with an empire. No one admitted it, least of all Augustus himself.

Instead of calling himself a ‘dictator’ or an ‘emperor’, Augustus made a show of handing power to the Senate and calling himself the ‘first citizen’.

But the change was unrelenting. The assemblies were gradually disbanded and the Senate was used as a rubber stamp to back whatever fool shenanigans emperors got up to.

Many are the changes — to government, society, public institutions, and the economy — taking place in America, too. Today, we focus on just one of them: the emasculation of the legislature.

What we are seeing now is the twisting of Congress…into a grotesque shape more in keeping with its real function. It cannot debate the issues meaningfully. It cannot legislate in a reasonable way. It cannot meet the challenges that come its way.

As the empire evolves, its affairs become too complicated…too far-flung…too detailed for the people’s representatives to handle. They can’t be experts in everything, and they have no time to read anything — even the laws they pass.

Thus the legislature becomes more and more irrelevant. The insiders — led by the Goldmen and the Gunmen — take over.

Carnival of claptrap

On Tuesday, President Trump tossed a grenade into Congress. It should have been fairly easy for the people’s representatives to bat it back out to the White House.

With a combined 8,000 years of legislative experience, members of the two houses could easily craft a law to end the uncertain status of some 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ — children who immigrated to the US illegally and were given the temporary right to live in the US by President Obama.

In or out; it doesn’t have to be complicated. In a matter of hours, they could have had a bill on the president’s desk for signature.

Instead, they fumble…they tumble over one another in silly grandstanding…and mumble incoherent and irrelevant comments. And then, it explodes in their faces.

The day is long past when Congress could sensibly consider any important legislative issue.

Congress has become little more than a national windbag…a carnival of claptrap full of clowns and grifters, each with only one real objective: to get re-elected.

And now, it is just a matter of time.

How long will it be before a US Caligula names his horse as his ambassador to the UN…or turns the White House into a cat house?


Bill Bonner,
For Markets & Money

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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