Donald J Trump: Unleashed and Unhinged

A lot of conservatives have been scouring Donald Trump’s inaugural address in search of some encouraging signs. They are going to be looking for a long time. Not once did Trump utter the words Freedom or Liberty. Nor did he even intimate that he would attempt to reduce the size and power of an already bloated government. On the contrary, he promised to expand its use of coercion to redirect trade and investment.

Trump Inaugural

“From this day forward” Mr. Trump said, “it’s going to be only America first, America first.” He went on “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product (sic), stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to a great prosperity and strength”. If it does, it will be the first time in history.


The nonsense jam-packed into Trump’s remarks is testament to invincible ignorance, even by Trumpian standards. It is simply undeniable that global trade agreements in combination with free capital markets have enabled enormous gains in economic efficiency, making the world far richer today than it has ever been before. Economic illiterates aside, free trade has lifted billions of people out of horrific poverty. And it has greatly benefitted American consumers; particularly lower income consumers, by reducing prices for tradable goods.


It is clear that Trump sees the world as a zero-sum game. My gain is your loss. But in the real world, trade is a mutually beneficial and voluntary exchange of value that leaves both sides better off. That’s why the counterparties trade. However, in the zero-sum world of Trump, mutually beneficial trade is not possible. One side has to win and one has to lose. Which of course means that there is no such thing as free trade, or any real freedom at all. There is only power and coercion.


This Hobbesian conception of the world is the one subscribed to by Trump. It is is one in which life is nasty, brutish and short. It is a world of self-help where the strong coerce the weak. Behavioral norms do not matter. Peace is merely the interval between wars. This is the worldview that serves as a reference point for Donald Trump, the self-described counter-puncher. It is also how Vladimir Putin sees the world.


In International Relations theory this Hobbesian view is the foundation of the school of thought known as political Realism. It is distinct from Smithian Liberalism and Kantian cosmopolitanism. (Note—Realism is a term of art. American politicians who call themselves foreign policy “realists” typically  misuse the term.)


The political, economic and security architecture of the post war era is based on Smithian Liberalism. In this world, the nation-state is the primary organizational unit of world politics. Governments of nation-states exist to protect the rights of citizens. But while nation-states are sovereign over their own territory, the global system suffers from structural anarchy.


Smithian Liberalism recognizes the structural anarchy of world politics, and so it builds multi-lateral institutions to mitigate its harmful effects. That is why we have NATO, the World Bank, the IMF, the United Nations, free trade agreements and international policy regimes. The Liberal states that created these institutions embrace and protect the rule of law, property rights, individual rights and market economics. Note: these institutions are not supra-national organizations, possessing their own sovereignty. They remain instruments of states, whose behavior is guided by power, self-interest, international norms and policy values.


From the end of World War II until the present, this is the world we have lived in, with the framework implicitly guaranteed by the United States. It is without doubt the case that this Pax Americana has led to unprecedented gains in well being in the West and around the world.


Donald Trump threw a wrecking ball at all this in his inaugural address.


By threatening trade wars through an “America First” policy he threatens to tear apart the Liberal architecture of the post war era that has delivered unprecedented peace and prosperity to so many people around the world. And because of the structural anarchy of world politics, Liberal institutions rely on trust and norms. Trashing those norms is destructive, even if “only” to stake out a negotiating position.


The irony is that for all of Trump’s blather about getting rid of regulations, he is threatening to embark on one of the greatest expansions of the regulatory state in history, not to mention the use of the bully pulpit to browbeat citizens whose rights he has sworn to protect. For instance His Majesty announced he was entering the decree issuing business. HRH Trump, (note the use of the royal “We”) said, “We…are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power.” He went on to say, “We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”


Where does he think he gets the authority to command citizens to “buy American”? Let’s think about that for a moment. Then let’s think about the magnitude and absurdity of the edict and what implementing it would actually entail.


U.S. GDP is about $18 trillion, which is about 17% of Gross World Product (GWP). Trade (the sum of exports and imports) accounts for about $5 trillion in the U.S., or 28% of U.S. GDP. How, exactly, does His Royal Highness propose to go about quashing $5 trillion worth of trade, equal to about 28% of GDP without a huge increase in the power of the regulatory state? Does he seriously intend to place large tariffs on imported goods, thereby imposing a new tax on American consumers? Does he intend to give the IRS even more regulatory enforcement powers? Does he not think—to the extent he thinks at all—that foreign governments will respond in kind? How exactly is all this supposed to help?


The answer is that it won’t help anybody. The only question is how much damage these policies would do if enacted and implemented.


Donald Trump and his supporters have provided an object lesson in the dangers of combining ignorance and enthusiasm. Let us hope that the remaining adults on Capital Hill will recognize the danger and reassert Congress’s powers under the Constitution as a co-equal branch of government. At which point they should begin to dismantle the worst excesses of the regulatory state and block Donald Trump rather than acquiesce as he attempts to expand it.


Otherwise it’s going to be a long four years.



The Permanent Government Strikes Back

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, 1984.
George Orwell

As we approach inauguration day the Lefty meltdown has morphed into a strategy that Orwell would recognize. It is to embed in the psyche of the body politic the narrative that the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the U.S. was so deeply flawed as to make his impending Presidency illegitimate. Civil Rights icon John Lewis was explicit on the point. He said: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. ”


That is the type of casuistry that politicians routinely, if dishonorably, employ. However it is unusual in the United States to take it to the point of questioning the legitimacy of a Presidential electioCongressman John Lewisn. And so Mr. Lewis should be prepared to answer a few questions. For instance: Who, if not Donald Trump, is the legitimate President? And if not Donald Trump, are his actions ipso facto illegal? If not, why not? Should citizens feel free to ignore any regulatory rules promulgated and implemented under a Trump Administration? If not, why not?


I doubt that the Congressman will consider, much less address, these points.

The Intelligence Community

The intelligence community—really the intelligence bureaucracy—is in the middle of the scrimmage. They are, after all, the source of most of the leaks about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election cycle. And they continue to pretend to be surprised about Russia’s behavior. The critical question is: What possible motivation could the intelligence bureaucracy have in leaking all this stuff?


The answer is that the intelligence bureaucracy, like all bureaucracies, is a bureaucracy that is first and foremost interested in protecting its hide. And the President-elect has made his disdain for the intelligence services clear. He has a point in his criticism. The intelligence bureaucracy has been caught flat-footed on key national security events more than once, to put it mildly. What better way to protect the bureaucracy than to change the subject by attacking the messenger?


A History of Missed Signals

The CIA’s history of screw-ups is long and colorful. For instance, there were the comic opera attempts to assassinate Castro, not to mention the disastrous invasion at the Bay of Pigs, led by the CIA. The Berlin wall came down in 1989 catching the CIA in its usual position—asleep at the switch. Likewise the intelligence services did not have a clue that Saddam was going to invade Kuwait until he was at the doorstep.


In 1983 terrorists bombed a Marine barracks in Beirut killing 241 American Marines. In 1996 terrorists blew up Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which was being used by coalition forces who were enforcing a no-fly zone in Southern Iraq. In 1998 U.S. embassies were simultaneously bombed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. There is no evidence that the CIA was even vaguely aware of an imminent threat. And obviously, the terrorist plots succeeded.


The intelligence community was surprised by the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan in May 1998 code named Chagai-1. And on the subject of nukes, CIA chief George Tenet famously declared it a “slam dunk” that Iraq had nukes. Most famously, the U.S. was blindsided by both World Trade Center bombings—the one in 1993 and 9/11. Students of the game will remember that immediately after the attack, the CIA went it CYA mode, proclaiming the method of attack to be unprecedented and therefore unpredictable. Which conveniently enough, let the CIA off the hook.


But the CIA claim was a lie. Back in 1996, Robin Wright, an expert on Islam and Middle East politics published a book on Islamic militancy called Sacred Rage. Note the date. (An updated version was re-published in 2001, but the original was published in 1996). In the book Wright recounted the story of an unusual style of civilian jet take off at an airport in the Middle East not too far from an American base. That incident started a scramble by the Americans because officials at the time were afraid that the plane might be used as a weapon to attack them. So the U.S. government was well aware as early as 1996 that civilian jets could be hijacked and used as weapons against U.S. targets.


Beyond Incompetence

The observation “Never ascribe to malice that which is easily explained by incompetence” is usually and probably incorrectly attributed to Napoleon. Rather than malice in the case of the intelligence agencies, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that self-interest has played a part in their piling on Trump. Consider the role of Mike Morrell, former acting CIA Director.

Michael Morrell

Over the summer of 2016 Morrell (having already stepped down as acting CIA Director) penned an op-ed, published by the New York Times, in which he endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Having a top former CIA executive, one who is privy to the secrets, come out as a political partisan is extraordinary. What he said is even more astonishing. He wrote: “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”


As it turns out, that is the same Mike Morrell who was accused by six Republican Senators of lying under oath in testimony to Congress over his role in the Benghazi affair. Two of the topics that drew interest according to the Weekly Standard were: (1) Morrell (according to the Senators) obfuscated his role in rewriting Benghazi talking points, and (2)he falsely claimed that the talking points were provided to the White House as a heads-up, not for co-ordination purposes.


Mike Morrell is now a Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies, a firm close to Hillary Clinton whose founders include Philippe Reines, who also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton from 2009—2013. Prior to that he served as Senator Clinton’s Senior Advisor and Press Secretary from 2002 – 2009. So let’s dispense with the idea that Michael Morrell is like Jimmy Stewart, speaking truth to power in a modern day Mr. Smith goes to Washington.


Michael Morrell is hardly alone in his characterization of Trump. Michael Hayden, director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, and Director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009 said, in the Washington Post,
Michael Haydenthat the term he prefers to describe Trump is “polezni durak, [which refers to a] useful fool, some naïf, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”



John Brennan, the outgoing CIA Director, saw fit to give Trump a public lecture on the dangers posed by the Soviet Union on the Sunday talkies. He said, among oJohn Brennanther things, that Trump lacked a full understanding of the threats Moscow poses to the U.S.


Then there is the Buzz Feed story about the “dossier” containing all sorts of unverified accusations against Trump. At this stage of the game you have to wonder what anybody could have that would make any difference anyway. Be that as it may, reputable news organizations have had copies of this dossier, which originated as Republican oppo research, for months. They didn’t publish it, because they couldn’t verify it. But in the wake of the Buzz Feed story, somehow or other the story got out that President-elect Trump would be briefed on its contents. That made it front-page news, an utterly predictable event, that any leaker would have to know.


James Clapper, who has acknowledged he lied under oath to Congress, assures us that he doesn’t believe that the Intelligence James ClapperCommunity leaked the story. In discussing a recent meeting with Trump, Clapper said “We also discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress, and Congressional staff even before the [Intelligence Community] became aware of it. I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC”.

Great. So we have a spy telling us that he doesn’t think any of his agencies leaked a particular document. Well that settles that.


The Upshot

It is entirely possible, in fact it is probable, that assessments by former and soon-to-be former intelligence officials about Trump’s understanding of world politics are entirely accurate if not understated. Trump continues to act like a belligerant adolescent when challenged. He has yet to demonstrate any sense of nuance, much less intellectual curiosity. Whether it’s all just an act is anybody’s guess.  That aside, it is way beyond the pale for the intelligence agencies to be acting the way they are acting. They are supposed to be independent providers of information to elected officials and certain appointees. They are not supposed to be policy advocates, much less in public.


Keep in mind that this sort of public hand wringing by intelligence officials was nowhere to be seen when Obama got caught on an open mike telling Putin that he could be more accommodative after the 2012 election. Nor were the alarmists anywhere to be found when Obama derided Romney during the 2012 election cycle when Romney pointed to Russia as our greatest geo-political threat. All of which suggests that the motives here are less than pure.



It ought to be crystal clear that there is an ongoing attempt to delegitimize the 2016 election, and its results. A bitter opposition party is in denial of its loss—not just of the White House, but also both Houses of Congress, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures. And it is working hard to convince its base that the election was stolen by Trump with the help of Russia. Recent polling data suggests that fully half of Hillary Clinton voters believe that Russia’s hacking changed votes on Election Day. For that matter something like 60% of Trump voters are convinced that millions of illegal votes were cast. There is zero evidence of either proposition.


It isn’t just elected opposition officials who are trying to gin this up. The permanent bureaucracy is threatened by the election result and is in semi-open revolt. The intelligence agencies are leading the pack, egged on by the elected opposition. The intelligence agencies have set about undermining the incoming Administration, by sowing doubt about the election result—which, by the way, is exactly what they were accusing Vladimir Putin of doing when they assumed Hillary Clinton would win.


Count on other agencies with their own agendas to do the same thing when they can.


It is especially disturbing, but not surprising, to see the permanent government, which is to say, the bureaucracy, at war with elected officials. It is an unmistakable sign that the bureaucracy’s first priority is self-protection. And it is a telling indication of how arrogant and dangerously unaccountable the permanent government has become. Note too that it is Progressives who are working with, and providing cover for, the permanent bureaucracy in order to achieve political goals.


A thorough housecleaning is in order. The sooner the better.


“Silence” by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is a complicated film. Based on a novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, it tells the story of 2 Jesuit priests in the 17th century who set out for Japan to find their mentor, Father Ferreira (played by Liam Nelson). Father Ferreira has gone missing and is rumored to have renounced his Christian faith.


The mission of the two priests, Father Rodgrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) is especially hazardous because Japan is in the midst of a brutal persecution of Christian missionaries and converts in an attempt to rid the island country of Christianity once and for all. The persecution tries to get Christians to renounce their faith, most especially by forcing them to violate symbols of the faith by, among other things, publicly spitting on a crucifix.



Scorsese pulls no punches in depicting the savagery of the persecution. There are burnings at the stake; beheadings and crucifixions galore that are designed to maximize suffering before death finally come as a relief. But it isn’t sadism for sadism’s sake. It has a point, and that point is to dissuade would be converts, and then to persuade the already converted, and especially the missionaries, to renounce their faith. The obvious analogy is to ISIS.


The priests, who are caught relatively early on, pray for guidance and courage as they face their persecutors. But as time goes by they fear there is no answer for their prayers. They hear silence. And so at a most basic level the film is a story of the struggle for belief and meaning in a cold and pitiless world gone mad. And, as Scorsese makes clear, it isn’t just any belief or Religion that will do. It is Christian religious belief.


Scorsese presents the struggle on several levels. The first is with respect to the priests as they try to cope with the predicament they find themselves in after they are captured. Is it permissible for them to act strategically and to pretend to renounce their faith to save others? Are the priests really acting like Christians if they hold out, but others must suffer in their place as a result?


At another level he presents the problem of defining just authority. The priests who smuggle themselves into Japan make claims to universalism. Their beliefs are religious, not political. But Japanese political authorities see the world very differently. They view Christianity as a mortal threat. In fact, they see the Christian claim to universalism as the heart of the threat.


Claims to universalism, the inherent dignity of the individual and free will are theologically indispensable to Christianity, as is the view that human nature is essentially fixed, not infinitely malleable. These ideas are now, and always have been, threatening to Kings, Queens, dictators, authoritarians and totalitarians as well as utopians of all varieties. For they look at the Church in purely secular terms, as a competitor for power and influence.


To wall off the dangers posed by the West and Christianity, Japanese political authorities decided to keep Japan isolated. For example, only the Dutch were permitted to send their ships to trade with Japan, and the sailors were not permitted to bring religious objects like medals, crucifixes and rosaries on land with them. Here the allegory to the Middle East is unmistakable. In Saudi Arabia for instance, churches are not permitted, nor is it permissible to possess religious items from faiths other than Islam, even for Western guest workers.


The analogy to the Middle East is not the only one on display. There is another, albeit a subtler one. The Grand Inquisitor, who manages the Japanese persecution, is not all that interested in simply killing off peasants who profess Christian belief. To prevent Christianity from taking root, he means to publicly break the priests to the yoke of the State. Once he does that, the priests are no longer a threat. They are worse than neutered; they are transformed into instruments of the regime. It is a profound betrayal on the order of Winston’s in George Orwell’s novel 1984.


In 1984, Winston was finally broken by Big Brother when he screamed for his torturers to “do it to Julia” (his lover) so he could be relieved of the agony of his worst nightmare. His betrayal signaled his brokenness. Once broken, the State could proceed to execute him. When they did so Orwell describes Winston as content and happy as the executioner’s bullet entered his brain.


But there are differences in the two cases. Winston betrayed a person, his lover. Once broken, Winston was no longer useful to the State and could be killed. In Silence, the priests are meant to be useful to the State, and so are turned into instruments of the State. The State means to use them to control what people believe as well as how they behave.


Which of course brings us to the case of Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Burwell (2016). In that case the Obama Administration, through the Affordable Care Act, tried to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide or finance coverage for contraceptives including abortafacients, despite their well-established religious objection to doing so. After the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Little Sisters, the Obama Administration admitted that it could achieve its goals in ways that did not require the contraceptive mandate. Which means that the point of the exercise was to break the Little Sisters to the yoke of the State.


There are lessons and analogies in Silence everywhere you look. It is in every respect a thinking man’s movie. It presents excruciatingly difficult dilemmas for which there are no easy answers, and it doesn’t pretend there are easy answers.   There is sufficient ambiguity right up to and including the end of the film, so that the questions and conflicts raised still linger after the final credits roll.


Silence cost $50 million to make and is projected to make just 2 to 3 million dollars its first weekend. That is unfortunate, but not altogether surprising. At 2 hours and 39 minutes, the movie is relatively long. It is decidedly adult. The actors are not the politically correct comic book super heroes that are all the rage these days, and the dialogue is often subtle and nuanced. It is well worth seeing.



Hacking, Shmacking

As the controversy over Russian hacking swirls around the capital, it is well worth remembering Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s admonition that Intelligence should never be confused with intelligence. Consider this when listening to National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s testimony before Congress, especially when he said this: “I don’t think that we have ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our electoral process.”  He then went on to say that the Russian hacking efforts “did not change the vote tallies” in the election. In fact, no one has credibly asserted that the Russians (or anyone else outside of Cook County) even attempted to tamper with voting machines.
James Clapper

What it comes down to is this. The CIA has determined that the Russians probably tried to influence the results by planting unflattering stories about the Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton in particular. Well, you don’t say. Perhaps the real story is that James Clapper seems to think that Russia’s behavior constitutes the most aggressive campaign they (read the KGB) have ever launched to influence U.S. politics.


It’s pretty hard to understand why Clapper thinks this is so aggressive compared to past behavior. The KGB organized and financed huge demonstrations and all kinds of agitprop to try to prevent the U.S. from deploying Pershing missiles in Europe during the early 1980s. Just like they financed and helped to organize Peace groups in the 1960s in the U.S. and Europe. Including the more violent ones like the Red Brigades and the Bader Meinhof gang.


Then there was the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981, ordered by Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Communist Party in Russia. Prior to this assassination attempt, Andropov ran the KGB just like Putin. And while we are on this trip down memory lane, let’s not forget about the Weather Underground, an offshoot of the Weatherman, which in turn was an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).


It turns out that some Members of the Weather Underground collaborated on and published a manifesto advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in order to build socialism and create a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. I wonder where they got that idea? And is there any question where at least some of their support was coming from?


Anyway, here is what the manifesto said (in part). “The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war … Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit … Revolutionary war will be complicated and protracted … It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent, political and economic, cultural and military, where all forms are developed in harmony with the armed struggle. Without mass struggle there can be no revolution. Without armed struggle there can be no victory.”


The authors of this gem include Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who as it happens are friends of none other than Barrack Obama. And it’s not like this was just idle chitchat. The Weather Underground and their ilk were responsible for multiple murders on top of a wave of rioting, bank robberies, bombings and other crimes.


Which brings us back to James Clapper. How can anyone, much less the Director of National Intelligence, profess to be in the least bit surprised that Vladimir Putin tried to influence U.S. elections for his strategic advantage. How can anyone look at the history and think that this go around comes close to some of the worst episodes in the past?


Which is why we need to bear in mind Patrick Moynihan’s distinction between Intelligence and intelligence.






Fake News

The latest battle cry being test marketed by enemies of free speech is “Fake News”. It is the perfect bumper sticker slogan because the phrase is entirely devoid of substantive meaning, and it is sure to get partisan blood boiling. Like all propaganda campaigns, this one starts off with an ostensibly reasonable premise, namely that “fake news” is a problem. After all, who could be in favor of simply making stuff up?


Now is the time to state the obvious: people make stuff up all the time, and have done so forever. Politicians and advertisers have strong incentives to do so, which may be why they are so adept at it. That isn’t the issue. The real issue revolves around how to protect freedom of speech while still protecting citizens against libel and defamation.


Libel is not, and has never been, constitutionally protected. To be sure there are different standards for pursuing a libel case. For example, an ordinary citizen has a lower threshold to meet for pursuing a libel suit than does a public figure. In the landmark 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court held that in order for a public official to successfully sue a news organization for libel, the official had to demonstrate that the news organization acted with malice, knowing that its reporting was false, or that it acted with malice with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of its reporting.


But the fake news sloganeers are not interested in that, or in providing a remedy for libel. They are enemies of free speech and mean to shut down the speech of people with whom they disagree. They have tried to do so with campaign finance laws. Thankfully they were stopped in their tracks by the Citizens United case in a 5- 4 vote. They have promised to overturn Citizens United, but they are unlikely to succeed. With that avenue apparently closed down, the next gambit will be some attempt to regulate speech, i.e.—news, on the basis of its “accuracy”. The point of the fake news campaign is to soften the beaches for the next assault on the first amendment which will probably take the form of “recommendations” and “guidelines” for what constitutes news, how it should be reported, and by whom.


It will be instructive to see who falls in line as the campaign continues. His Majesty Donald the 1st of 5th Avenue has already suggested he wants to loosen libel laws to make it easier for politicians to sue the press. Charles Schumer attempted to amend the 1st amendment to allow legislatures to regulate political speech around election times. And now we have hedge fund manager Ray Dalio weighing in, proving once again Lenin’s prescience when he said that capitalists would sell communists the rope they would use to hang them.


In complaining about how that noted anti-capitalist newspaper the Wall Street Journal covered him, Dalio reportedly said the following.


“The failure to rectify this [fake news] problem is due to there not being any systemic checks on the news media’s quality,” he said. “The news media is unique in being the only industry that operates without quality controls or checks on its power. It has so much unchecked power that even the most powerful people and companies are afraid to speak out against it for fear of recrimination. In fact, I presume that I will be widely attacked in the media for what I am saying here.”


The ignorance embedded in that remark is nothing short of astonishing. Here we have a major Wall Street player, naively complaining that there are not any “systemic checks on the news media’s quality.” So would Mr. Dalio prefer to have a bureaucratic mechanism installed to replace the market? Perhaps a Ministry of News to do quality checks, meaning accuracy checks? That should send a chill down the spine of any sensible person.


Dalio, who is apparently unaware that news organizations compete, appears to believe the news media is a monolith. That would come as a surprise to Fox News and CNN, or to The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. But, Dalio says, “The news media is unique in being the only industry that operates without quality controls or checks on its power”. Seriously? No quality controls? What does he think fact checkers and editors do? No checks on their power? How is it that these supremely powerful news organizations, particularly newspapers, are under such intense financial pressure? Why, if they are so powerful, are newspapers going out of business everywhere you look? And why, if they are so persuasive, is trust in news organizations at an all-time low? And how did Trump get elected when virtually all the major media outlets except Fox News opposed him?


Undaunted by the evidence colliding with his hypothesis, Dalio soldiers on. Those who disagree with him must be misinformed. He flat out says, misinformation prevents the public from comprehending the truth, “which will threaten our society’s well-being.” Here is where he gives the game away. Ray Dalio and Co. are the high priests Who Know the Truth. In the blink of an eye “Fake news” becomes “misinformation” which blocks Truth. And it’s information that “the public” can’t comprehend, unless the great and the good are there to explain it to them. The perfect expression of bureaucratic paternalism.


All pretty amusing when you consider that Bridgewater Associates, Dalio’s firm, predicted that markets would tank all around the world if Trump won. Which leads to the question: When is the Ministry of Truth going to visit Westport Connecticut to explain things to the folks at Bridgewater Associates?