Trump Rules

He can’t win and he shouldn’t…

But it’s mindblowing to watch the pundits and players react to his statements.

I’ve got no love for John McCain, but he’s an untouchable. You can’t question the man because of his war hero status. But what if you questioned that itself? What if you refused to play by the rules?

Then the political class would call foul and ask for your ouster.

But there are no ejections in politics, never mind yellow cards.

I’m utterly fascinated by Donald Trump’s inability to apologize, his willingness to double-down on his controversial comments.

But I’m also laughing as I watch those who perceive themselves to be in power utterly flummoxed by him.

You see America is all about authenticity and identity, and those are sorely missing in the twenty first century. As soon as you gain traction, as soon as you gain personal power, you’re supposed to make friends with everybody else who’s a rung up the ladder and play nice. You can’t criticize your brethren. You must stay above the fray. You’re a member of a club, akin to a country club, and you’ve got to wear the appropriate clothing or else you get kicked out.

It’s even worse on college campuses, those theoretical bastions of debate. Comedians won’t play there for fear of being ostracized. You see young ‘uns can’t take a joke. But the truth is a few can’t take a joke and the rest are afraid of them.

So everybody goes to rehab, a kind of Free Parking for faux pas.

And everybody’s chummy.

And the rest of us sit on the sidelines wondering what happened to our country, how we got here. While you’re all yapping it up at the Correspondents’ Dinner, we’re worried about putting food on the table now that our unemployment benefits have run out.

And tech is not immune. Never forget that Steve Jobs famously hatched an illegal anti-poaching scheme. The rich and powerful want to stay that way, and they do it via collusion.

So you’ve got a blowhard real estate developer who’s neither as rich nor as powerful as he says, but believes his own b.s. and is running for President.

That’s right, Trump lives in a bubble. He’s not the only one. Grow up in Manhattan and attend an Ivy League school and chances are you too know nothing about how the disadvantaged truly live, despite doing charity work so you could beef up your college application.

But Trump is famous as a result of self-promotion and a TV show and he’s leveraging that fame to run for President. Sound delusional? Never forget that Minnesota elected a wrestler to be governor and California elected a body-builder. And I’d like to tell you that they both achieved great success, but the truth is running a government is a skill, akin to an athletic competition. Jerry Brown could never win in the ring, but he’s accomplished more than Schwarzenegger ever could, because not only does he know the players, he understands the game.

Which is why it’s a mistake to believe Trump could rule effectively.

Then again, a President is just CEO of the country, why do we elect one on a popularity/beauty contest basis?

And it’s great the entertainment/media complex put Trump in the penalty box for his immigration comments. You’ve got to hit him where they live, in this case on TV and at the bank.

But this McCain thing…

Trump spoke and every news outlet said he was toast.

There you go again Donald, you hit one outside the line, you touched the third rail. Your consolation prize is continued fame and a great story, take your parting gift and go.

But the truth is the proletariat, those who actually vote, don’t employ these same rules. Judith Miller gets in bed with Bush and his cronies and convinces “New York Times” readers war is a good thing. But where is the trusted source for those supporting Trump? Furthermore, the well-educated know that seemingly everybody is serving somebody, and maybe the media is not to be trusted.

I’d tell you to pivot, to admit your mistakes, because we’re all human, we’re all capable of being wrong, we’re all able to learn new things.

But I’d also tell you we need heroes. People to look up to and believe in.

And I certainly don’t believe in Donald Trump. But a lot of people do, the same way we believed in the Beatles.

That’s right… You’re smoking in interviews? Saying you’re more popular than Jesus? Breaking the code?

Trump is playing by rock star rules. Which is I’m so rich I can do whatever I want, the rules don’t apply to me.

And this antagonizes those who’ve spent their whole lives sucking up, playing the game. Because if the rules don’t apply their efforts have been worthless.

That’s America, where everybody’s mealy-mouthed and can’t speak their personal truth. Hell, you read about it all the time in the business pages, people writing in for advice about their bad bosses, their duplicitous coworkers. They want to tell them off, say take this job and shove it, but they’re afraid.

Donald Trump is not afraid.

And that’s why he’s resonating with his constituency.

We used to look up to artists. They played this role.

But once we decided that money was the definitive arbiter and artists didn’t make enough we shifted our attention to businessmen.

And most businessmen are about breaking rules as opposed to obeying them. Hell, no Napster without rule-breaking, and then no Apple iPod, never mind iTunes and the resulting iPhone.

Everything great has come out of people who say they just don’t like what’s going on.

So I’d say hate the player, but love the game. The one Trump is playing. Where he’s confounding the pussyfooting political cabal.

How is it Donald Trump knows it’s all about the voters and everybody inside the Beltway thinks it’s all about them?

Maybe he’s on to something.

 

~~~


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Category: Cognitive Foibles, Corporate Management, Crony Capitalists, Politics, Think Tank

Broadband in the US

From The Economist: The program, called “ConnectHome”, is a partnership between government, tech companies and non-profit organisations that will provide low-cost broadband internet, digital literacy programs and other resources to 275,000 public-housing developments in 28 locations across the country. Source: The Economist

Category: Digital Media, Technology

The End of the Gasoline Fueled Automobiles In Your Lifetime

Source: Bloomberg   Tesla has rocked the world of high-performance automobiles with the introduction of its new “Ludicrous mode.” The internal-combustion engine business may never be the same. Regular readers of mine usually know at least two things about me: First, I believe that all predictions are silly, more about marketing than actually trying to figure out what…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Corporate Management, Energy, Technology

10 Monday AM Reads

So much for a slow quiet summer! Start your week right with our expertly crafted morning train reads: • Let’s Be Honest About Gold: It’s a Pet Rock (MoneyBeat) see also Gold Plunges to Lowest Since 2010 (Bloomberg) • High Conviction Buybacks (investorfieldguide) • What is so great about Warren Buffett? (Quora) • Interpreting information in China’s stock markets  (M.Pettis) • 6…Read More

Category: Financial Press

Market Forecasters Are Like Blind Squirrels…

Earlier this summer, I tweeted a wonderful line from Brett Arends column, 25 things I wish I knew when I graduated from high school:

 

 

That led to a delightful column last week from Michael Johnston’s A Visual History of Market Crash Predictions.

Here are some of the more egregious calls, but the entire article is well worth your time to read:

 

 

Summary-7.16
Source: Fund Reference

 

 

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Category: Analysts, Mathematics, Really, really bad calls

Three forces driving US long rates

From Deutsche Bank: A striking feature of my ongoing discussions with clients is that many still believe that as a result of secular stagnation “long rates will never go up”. The problem is that holding onto that view has been expensive for the past seven weeks. Long rates in the US are driven by 1)…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Fixed Income/Interest Rates, Markets, Think Tank

CIA Reactions to Finding No WMD in Iraq

    The National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military. Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Think Tank, War/Defense

Surging Seas: 2°C Warming and Sea Level Rise

Click to check out other cities. Source: Climate Central

Category: Digital Media, Really, really bad calls, Science

Travails of the Modern Macro Tourist

      My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we look at travels and travails of the macro tourist. That was the name of the online version; in print edition of the paper, it was Is your money subject to the travails of a macro tourist?. Here’s an excerpt from the…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Asset Allocation, Really, really bad calls

Pluto’s Ice Plains

NASA released its first glimpse of a strange mosaic of ice on Pluto.

Latest Pluto Image Zooms In on Ice Plain

Source: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI, 7/17/2015 7:44PM

Category: Science, Video