King: Our Culture of Untruth

Today, we’ll ponder the pursuit of honest money and wealth protection in a culture that, more and more, is built on a foundation of untruth, misdirection and outright lies.

First, we need to consider lawfare. That’s a combination of law and warfare. Instead of one side attacking the other with armies of soldiers, the assault comes via armies of lawyers. And instead of operational movements on a battlefield, one side works to wreck the other within the confines of the legal system.

At a fundamental level, warfare and lawfare are two ends of the same spectrum, namely that of compulsion. That brings me to Donald Trump. In Trump’s case (or his numerous cases), the former president isn’t dodging real bullets but instead must fight his battles on far-flung legalistic fronts.

The goal of all this anti-Trump lawfare is perfectly obvious. Trump’s political opponents want to hamstring him in terms of lost time and adverse media attention, huge legal bills, burdensome discovery, eye-popping financial penalties and possibly the stigma of a criminal conviction, if not incarceration.

But as the old saying goes be careful what you wish for. Because the more Trump’s political enemies pile on, the higher he’s risen in the polls.

Teflon Don

In recent months, Trump has been isolated inside courthouses, listening to prosecutors accuse him, witnesses malign him and judges chastise him. Still, at the end of each day he has walked out to a sea of microphones and cameras to hold press conferences that receive global coverage.

One might even say that Trump bears up well under the stress and looks rather “presidential” in his ability to absorb abuse and fire back at the other side. One way or another, and as more than a few surveys clearly demonstrate, an innate sense of the rank unfairness of the anti-Trump lawfare has spread wide and far.

If the election were held today, Trump could win. As to the outcomes of all these Trump trials, we shall see. We know what happened in New York. Looking ahead months and years, no doubt we’ll watch the Trump appeals unfold from his cases, and the scope of what’s called, in antiseptic terms, “reversible error” will become manifest.

Or let’s put it this way: If use of the legal system for political ends is a form of political warfare, then abominable misuse of the legal system is a form of war crime, and nobody wants to be on the side of war criminals.

Apparently, the lawfare fanatics failed to think this through.

Our Culture of Untruths

Sad to say, one factor that enables lawfare such as what we see with Trump is that we live in a gullible, miseducated culture that is wide open to mass persuasion toward preposterous ends.

When large numbers of people hear little else but a litany of tailored tales, they can be made to believe just about anything. Yeah, sure, we have our wonderful First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, and anyone can find their inner Benjamin Franklin and publish a newspaper.

Then again, we live in an era when most channels for news are wrapped up quite tightly by people and institutions that control what gets out. At root, the issue of what is the news is economic because, as with any other business, running a news site and related newspaper has expenses, and the bottom line always rules.

Across the U.S., over the past two decades, more than 2,000 local and regional newspapers have closed their doors, succumbing to high costs and competition from so-called “free” news on the internet.

Meanwhile, if you’re above a certain age you likely recall how three networks dominated television news in those olden days: CBS, NBC and ABC. Perhaps you remember how the late newsreader Walter Cronkite used to sign off his evening broadcast with his iconic line, “And that’s the way it is…”

The Way It Is — Or the Way I See It?

Well, that was the “way it is” per Cronkite’s opinion. He and his producers were ruthless about what to include in the man’s 22-minute weeknight news show. And the fact is that, over many years, Cronkite and CBS left plenty of important news and perspective on the cutting room floor; definitely, they left out anything that was contrary to what they wanted the audience to know.

Or consider the inordinate power of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Over many decades, they have published innumerable stories that created national levels of narrative. In other words, if something was “in the Times” or “in the Post,” then large numbers of people believed that the story was a real thing, and that the resulting worldview was appropriate.

All this while many other news sources took their cue, if not doctrine, from these two newspapers (NPR, I’m looking at you!).

The point is that personal views and biases, and editorial decisions by a small handful of people, have long shaped widespread public perceptions and opinions in the U.S. Now fast-forward to today, when network news remains in the hands of corporate insiders, and the Times-Post narrative still dominates nationwide storylines.

Plus, we now have all-digital sites like Google and Facebook/Meta, which are in the business of curating narratives to the point of notorious shadow bans that all but censor content that goes against certain political grains. Or recall how, for way too long, ex-Twitter shadow banned and censored people and content.

Enter Elon Musk

Things became so openly notorious that Elon Musk came in and grossly overpaid to buy the site, an act of public charity in support of honest discussion. Now called “X,” we’ll see how it all evolves. And consider Donald Trump’s site Truth Social.

This is an effort to create a content platform with far less oversight and moderation than, say, Facebook, YouTube, etc. That is, Truth Social is not just Trump’s personal bullhorn; it’s an open forum, with its own hardware system, to support content creators.

It won’t get canceled like how the former Parler site simply vanished way back in 2021. Again, we’ll see how this evolves over time. So as we discuss lawfare, and certainly the anti-Trump lawfare, one point to keep in mind is that it only succeeds when large numbers of people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, in the shadows.

Because if all that one hears or sees are inflammatory headlines, atop partisan articles written by hacks who cherry-pick facts, or just plain make stuff up, then yes… one might just believe anything and to his or her long-term detriment.

A Legal System Isn’t Necessarily a Justice System

Finally, keep in mind the distinction between a legal system and a justice system. That is, every country has a legal system: Stalin’s Soviet Union had a legal system, Mao’s China had a legal system, Pol Pot’s Cambodia had a legal system. But were they “justice” systems?

For over two centuries in the U.S., one of the great national strengths was that, overall, our legal system also focused on delivering fair and impartial justice. Yes, the country had problems at times and in places; Southern Jim Crow comes to mind, and more.

But the country has never before put on such a sordid legal spectacle such as we see with former President Trump.

If prosecutors can come after Trump for whatever sort of charges they can concoct, they can go after anybody. If judges and juries can personalize legal processes against people or entities that they just plain don’t like, we’re sliding down the proverbial slippery slope.

Frankly, based on what we’ve seen in the courtrooms of New York City, you’d have to be crazy to trust the fairness of that jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the D.C. courts are equally hyper-partisan, with surly judges and biased jury pools that seem to be brain-melded to the editorial board of The Washington Post.

This too will pass, or so we hope. Meanwhile, protect your wealth. Look for honest money while we collectively search for a way out of our current era of deep untruth. I’m talking about hard assets, meaning energy, precious metals and commodities.

I’ll end with a tip: If you believe that Donald Trump will be the next president, one strong call on future energy is with U.S. offshore oil and gas.

The Daily Reckoning