From Ronald to the Donald

By David Stockman  |  April 3, 2019

If you analyze it, I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals – if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

– Ronald Reagan, from “Inside Ronald Reagan,” an interview in the July 1975 issue of Reason magazine

Not a lot of guys from the Reagan Revolution still doing things in public these days… And those who are, sadly, happen to be strumming a lot of Deep State notes from inside the current administration.

Indeed, the Donald’s capture is another aspect I explore in my new book, Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp and the Fantasy of MAGA.

Larry Kudlow, of course, is blowing up Bubblevision again as the Donald’s chief economic cheerleader. I hired Larry in 1981 when I was Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He was associate director for economics and planning until 1985. He worked on Wall Street, then he got famous on CNBC and MSNBC.

Larry’s got a history degree from the University of Rochester, where he also did time with Students for a Democratic Society. I can’t really blame him for that, though, as I also marched to end the Vietnam War.

Attorney General William Barr served on the domestic policy staff at the White House from May 1982 to September 1983. Barr did a previous turn as Attorney General for George H. W. Bush from late November 1991 through January 1993.

Barr got his start at CIA, then he clerked for a D.C. Circuit judge for a few years. He made some money in private practice and he finally found his way to the Reagan White House. Hard to say whom or what he’s protecting now with is dueling “Barr Letters” about Prosecutor Mueller’s report.

National Security Advisor John Bolton was further out in orbit, an assistant attorney general in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice from 1985 to 1988. He also worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development from 1981 to 1983. And he did some work for the Republican National Committee leading up to the ’84 GOP convention.

He’s really famous, though, for his neocon turn in the George W. Bush administration.

That’s quite a trio right there, if you want to talk about putting a band back together…

Kudlow, who just called for the Fed to cut rates by 50 basis points, once upon a time wrote a famous “let’s invade Iraq for the stock market!” editorial… Barr supported the issue of pardons to certain of those caught up in the Iran-Contra “gate” that consumed much of the Gipper’s second term… And Bolton just wants to bomb Iran…

Indeed, it’s a cavalcade of hits… “Easy Money”… “Imperial Authority”… and “Forever War”… (And there’s an irony-heavy ode to the “Welfare State” in there somewhere…)

Meanwhile, where have all the conservatives gone?

Whatever threat to it the “Great Disruptor” might still represent, Warfare State groupthink continues to dominate Imperial Washington.

Its hypocrisy is on display almost daily; here’s an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal only days old: “Vladimir Putin has made a career of intervening abroad and seeing if the world lets him get away with it.”

As Jesse Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation notes, “Clearly, conservatives do not see anything wrong with foreign interventionism as long as the interventionists are wearing an American flag on their sleeves and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.”

Well, No. 1, it depends on how you define “conservative.” One kind has its movement all over the imperial city, professional Republicans in a self-serving but like-minded grift with Democrat regulars in behalf of perpetual growth of “national security” contracts.

This one also understands an opportunity to weaponize broad hostility against an easy target. Putin is right out of central casting, of course, a James Bond/Jason Bourne villain waiting to happen. He’s another instrument of “threat inflation”… the “next Hitler” to be contained at all costs.

We’ve been playing this game since 1945. Inflating dangers represented by foreign agents is how they justify a Pentagon budget for fiscal 2020 that’ll approach $750 billion, with other commitments that’ll take the total cost for “defense” past $1 trillion.

Wait ’til the Duopoly really cranks up operations in Venezuela. Bolton has already done his part to keep North Korea at the slow-boil. And then there’s the National Security Advisor’s “main enemy,” Iran.

The Tweeter-in-Chief is famously impulsive. Democrats’ “Russiagate” fury on top of a slowing economy could make him even more prone to high-profile, high-impact distraction.

So, where have all the conservatives gone?

This Is Conservative…

Desperate times call for… “common sense” measures.

And these are desperate times… 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…

To common sense,

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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