"Only One Way Out"
By Bill Bonner
YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Here’s The New York Times, describing how the Republican Party has ceased being conservative… “When Donald Trump Jr. jokingly called the gathering ‘TPAC’ instead of CPAC – ‘It’s what it feels like, guys!” he said – it felt less like an awkward joke and more a statement of 2021 reality.’ Or, as The Washington Post concluded: 'It’s Donald Trump’s party.'
Travel Update: Our trip to Ireland took three days, with three separate COVID tests. There are few travelers, but getting through airports is slower than ever. Each country has its own pandemic requirements. Entering or leaving, you have to show the proof they want – which is not always easy to get. The Netherlands, for example, requires a Rapid Test done no more than four hours before the flight. Avianca Airlines, meanwhile, wants its test at least 36 hours before takeoff. Everybody wants proof that you are not a plague-carrier. And there are masks, masks, and more masks. You must wear them all the time – in airports, on planes, in taxis… even entering and leaving restaurants (though you’re allowed to take them off to eat!).
Whether any of this makes any difference to the death toll, we don’t know. All we know for sure is that makers of face masks, hand disinfectants, and clear plastic must have struck gold last year. Everywhere you go, you find someone behind a plastic shield. Hotel desk clerks, ticket agents, restaurant maître d’s… everyone is now protected.
New Variant: Yes, it’s one for the history books. Not since the invention of contraceptives have prophylactic measures been so popular. But back then, they were intended to prevent life. Now, they’re supposed to prevent death. And, despite the new vaccines, the fear does not seem to be easing.
Here in Ireland, we are forced to quarantine at home for two weeks – despite the many tests we’ve just undergone. But yesterday, some neighbors came over to say hello. Keeping a safe distance, they explained: “We’ve already had our shots. But there are new strains. This UK variant, as they call it, is already here in Ireland. And it’s much worse than the original virus. We don’t know whether the vaccine is effective against it or not. It’s much more infectious, and it kills young people. It looks like the whole game might have changed. We’re not sure.”
But let’s leave the plague news… and turn back to our usual beat.
No Change: There are two tried-and-true ways to blow up a great empire: War and inflation. As predicted in this space… there has been no significant change between the Trump team and the Biden bunch. So, like a condemned man… the election only gave us a chance to choose between the Democrats’ noose and the Trumpistas’ firing squad. As to the eternal war, Joe Biden played his part last week, keeping the military/industrial/Deep State in the chips. He bomb, bomb, bombed Syria.
Most Americans have no interest… and no reason to have an interest… in the tribal conflicts of the Mideast. But for the people who make bombs, it is a big deal. It’s the difference between a modest beach house on the Maryland shore… or a real Obama-style mansion in Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, the dopey “War on Terror” continues, with both groups of self-serving Republicano-Democrats fully behind it. Here’s The Guardian: "Diplomacy is back!” President Joe Biden declared at the Munich Security Conference last week. But so is bombing Syria, apparently. Biden has only been president a bit more than a month, but he has already ordered his first bombing campaign. (It took Trump four months to do the same.) The target was facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran-backed militia in retaliation for rocket attacks against US troops in Iraq earlier this month."
And here’s Fox News, letting us know that the Trumpistas are fully on board: "Former Trump administration official: Biden administration ‘made right call in taking out’ terrorists."
And here’s Philip Giraldi, former CIA Operations officer in the Middle East, summing up: "Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible." "Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts. […]To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not… […]President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus."
Or when Hell freezes over!
Temporary Prosperity: We will approach this war/inflation tar baby from another angle later this week. But today, we keep it simple. LGBTQ… rights? Cutting off teenagers’ private parts? Anti-racism? Confederate statues? Rip-offs? Boondoggles? Power grids? COVID-19? Annoying? Yes. Deadly? Perhaps.
But the only proven path to wreck a nation is the old-fashioned way: killing and stealing… war and inflation… mass homicide and industrial-scale counterfeiting – that’s how to get the job done. As Hemingway reminds us, they produce a “temporary prosperity” and a more “permanent ruin.” Donald Trump played his part – with more money-printing than ever before in the history of North America. And now, the Trump Party offers no real resistance to the Democrats’ big-spending plans.
Inflation Update: So, how’s the new team doing on the inflation front? Looking right smart, as they say in Southern Maryland. From The New York Times: "House passes $1.9 trillion stimulus as Democrats work to salvage wage raise." "The House passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan early Saturday in a nearly party-line vote, advancing a sweeping pandemic aid package that would provide billions of dollars for unemployed Americans, struggling families and businesses, schools and the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
The vote was 219 to 212, with Democrats pushing the measure over unanimous Republican opposition. After hours of debate that stretched past midnight, two Democrats – Representatives Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon – broke with their party and voted against the bill.
The plan would provide $1,400 direct payments to individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and to couples earning up to $150,000. It would also expand a weekly federal unemployment benefit that is set to lapse in mid-March, increasing the payments to $400 a week from $300 and extending them through the end of August. It would increase the child tax credit; provide more than $50 billion for vaccine distribution, testing and tracing; and allocate nearly $200 billion to primary and secondary schools and $350 billion to state, local and tribal governments."
We’re now looking at a deficit for this year that is more than the entire federal budget just 10 years ago.
One Way Out: And what’s the point? It’s billed as a “COVID relief” package. But relief against what? The coronavirus doesn’t care how much fake money you pass out. And incomes are already at their highest point ever – thanks to previous federal giveaways. Adding more giveaways is merely digging a deeper hole for the giver to get into. Already, the hole is so deep, there is no honorable or honest way out. Which leaves the dishonest, shameful escape tunnel – inflation. Critics say it is far too early to worry about inflation. Perhaps they are right. But you don’t want to wait until the last minute, either.
Tomorrow, we skip ahead in the "Big Black Book of Financial Disasters." Stay tuned…"