“The Donald” Is Dead… Long Live “The Great Disruptor”

By David Stockman  |  January 7, 2019

In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings–artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers–to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relive the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.

– Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976)

Editor’s Note: We’re at a critical point in history, a period of uncertainty perhaps unmatched in the postwar era. More than ever since 1945, the role of United States of America on the world stage is in serious question.

So, over the next five days, I’m going to describe five steps that could lead to war with China and the end of the American Empire. This is, of course, a hypothetical. But here’s one way the question, “Where do we go from here?” might be answered…

The Great Disruptor is on a roll.

In a matter of days in mid-December, he renewed his fight against Imperial Washington’s ruling elite.

Against the advice of virtually everyone on his national security team, he ordered a 100% withdrawal from Syria.

He also committed to a 50% withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Finally – but to the great, ironic consternation of Republican barnacles on Capitol Hill – President Trump is paralyzing Leviathan.

Nine of 15 federal departments that haven’t been funded for fiscal 2019 by passed-and-signed appropriations bills are shut down.

Sure, he might’ve found better grounds for his display of fiscal gumption. But forget the Wall. What’s crucial here is the Donald’s rebuke of Inside the Beltway “leadership.”

He still thinks “Team America: World Police” is satire, not serious foreign policy.

And he doesn’t harbor their pathetic fear that if they don’t keep the federal government open and growing at all hazards the entire country will slide into ruin.

Well, in 2018 Americans blamed the Donald for the shutdown.

But, here in early 2019, it’s beginning to look like they’re starting to see things more the Great Disruptor’s way than the Duopoly’s…

It took the Donald putting his foot down for the feckless GOP to finally step back into its traditional role of standing athwart Big Government yelling, “Stop!”

Three early public opinion polls showed the country wasn’t necessarily ready for his negotiating style.

One conducted by YouGov for The Economist from December 23 to December 25 revealed that 46% of respondents said Trump was most to blame, 35% said congressional Democrats, and 6% said congressional Republicans.

Another, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos December 21 through December 25, found that 47% of Americans said the shutdown was on Trump, while 33% blamed the Dems.

And 43% of those who responded to a survey conducted by Morning Consult December 21 through December 23 blamed Trump. Thirty-one percent blamed Democrats in Congress.

“But,” as pointed out on January 4, 2019, “public opinion may be changing.”

Here’s what we’re seeing after Christmas:

On Wednesday, HuffPost/YouGov released a poll, conducted Dec. 28-30, during the shutdown’s second week, that showed more people disapproving of Congress’s role in the shutdown than of Trump’s. In the poll, 49 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of the shutdown while 38 percent approved. Meanwhile, 51 percent disapproved of congressional Democrats’ handling of the shutdown and 33 percent approved. Congressional Republicans got the worst score: 58 percent disapproved of the way they’ve handled the shutdown, and just 25 percent approved. That might indicate that blame is shifting from who caused the shutdown in the first place (pretty clearly Trump, who refused to sign a bill he’d previously signaled he’d support) to who is now preventing it from being resolved (less clear). Indeed, those numbers represented a slight improvement for Trump, and a more substantial deterioration for members of Congress, compared with HuffPost’s first poll of the shutdown, conducted Dec. 22-23.

So, it’s Day 17 of the partial shutdown.

And focus is already shifting from “who started it” to “who’s going to stop it”…

Let’s assume President Trump, during his primetime address to the nation on Tuesday, declares a “state of emergency” along our southern border as a means of getting his Wall funded.

He’d feel like he’s getting what he wants, but, at the same time, that declaration would be challenged in court.

In short, though, it would end the “shutdown.” It would give the Tweeter-in-Chief a ripe new resentment to fuel social media spleen-letting. And it would preserve the Great Disruptor’s mojo…

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The current “debt ceiling holiday” expires on March 2, 2019, and the U.S. Treasury will run out of cash shortly thereafter.

Treasury will be able to fund the government probably until mid-summer, using “extraordinary measures,” cash on hand, and incoming cash flow.

But reaching the debt limit – while the market is absorbing the impact of the Federal Reserve’s “normalization” and the GOP’s Fiscal Debauch – will put even more pressure on interest rates.

And, if Congress takes no action, the government will hit the “X Date.” That’s when the Treasury can no longer pay all of the government’s bills in full and on time.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi’s 22-ring circus of investigations is underway. Soon, it will hit close to home (i.e., tax returns).

So, the Great Disruptor is going to get even more militant, even more erratic, and, well, even more disruptive.

In other words, the real showdown hasn’t even started yet…

What’s coming will make this Battle of the Wall look like an episode of “Romper Room.”

The “debt ceiling” used to be an Inside the Beltway political exercise: The Duopoly played wink-wink games of rope-a-dope.

“Centrists” and “third way” Democrats overwhelm their leftist colleagues with stuff about “responsibility” and “adults in the room,” as they essentially sign off on blank checks for the Warfare State as well as, of course, the Welfare State…

Backbench militants still fresh and naïve enough to think they’d been sent to Imperial Washington to “speak truth to power” and/or cauterize the hemorrhaging national debt were allowed to vent for a few days.

And, then, they’d get stabbed in the back by GOP leadership’s lifer’s brigade. Mitch McConnell, for example, has been suckling on the public teat for the past 56 years.

After the Battle of the Wall, though, and now led by the Great Disruptor, all bets are off.

Look, I dissent from Trump’s Border War. But his stand against Pelosi and Chuckles Schumer will both thrill and mobilize his Flyover America base.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see the Great Disruptor’s next move.

Even as the deficit explodes toward $2 trillion per year and beyond… Even as the U.S. economy finally succumbs to recession… Even as the vast air pocket in the stock market collapses under fundamental forces…

Imperial Washington will be entirely paralyzed.

There will be no Wall Street bailout. There will be no fiscal stimulus, “shovel ready” or otherwise. That’s because the Duopoly will not be able to lead the Great Disruptor by his nose to do its bidding.

This time, the reckoning will finally be allowed to run its course. Ultimately, that will be a good thing.

Only in the aftermath of such a shattering national trauma is there any hope of rebuilding capitalist prosperity and self-government in America.

The Great Disruptor is just getting started.

By ignoring the advice of his Cabinet betters on national security, he struck a major blow against the Warfare State. By taking on Congress, he’ll expose the waste of the Welfare State

Undermining the premises of the American Empire carries incalculable risk.

At the same time, we’re well past the point when we should be asking – or should have asked – questions about costs to the U.S. taxpayer and to the U.S. economy of our domestic and international commitments.

This “reevaluation” is the true gift from the Great Disruptor.

Tomorrow, we’ll assess what this expression of MAGA means for the rest of the world.

All Is, Well, Abnormal…

Desperate times call for… “common sense” measures.

These are desperate times… how else to explain 600- and 800-point swings for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on what seems a daily basis?

This is not “normal.”

Markets are corrupted by monetary central planning. They’re confused. And the road back is going to be treacherous.

We’re looking at a major re-pricing for all financial assets. And thousand-point intraday or day-to-day swings are part of that equation. Those can be frightening… for “buy and hold” investors.

I have a different approach, one that combines strategy and tactics into a plan flexible enough for you to survive and thrive amid the coming chaos. It’s called “The Stockman Model.”

All we’re after is a little stability, perhaps a chance to pocket a windfall when opportunity presents…


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David Stockman

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David Stockman

David Stockman is the ultimate Washington insider turned iconoclast. He began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become 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.MORE FROM AUTHOR