Naked Capitalism: Skewering Three Trumpitudes, Promoting Critical Thinking, and Rejecting Conventional Wisdom

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans.

Now, far be it for me to suggest that Donald J. Trump compares as a world historical figure to Jesus Christ. (And for those of who skipped Sunday school, the Tip Jar is to your right.)

But hear me out. Who honestly gave Trump any chance of being elected President at the time he announced his candidacy. I mean, really?

And can you deny, seeing the crowds at a MAGA event, Trump doesn’t see himself as channeling this passage:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying…

Three Trumpitudes: The Policy Gospel According to Trump

Great is the Trump executive order, for it represents meaningful, legally enforceable policy change.

Great is the typical Trump policy, for it is sui generis, and directs the righteous onto a new, correct policy path.

Great is the Trump policy vision, which shall make America once again the promised land.

Now, I know my humble musings on these Trumpitudes lack the stylistic brilliance of the Sermon on the Mount’s beatitudes. For starters, there are eight beatitudes – and I’ve only managed to come up with three Trumpitudes (and to that, you may very well say, thank God for that!)

In my defense, I’ll concede I’m no St. Matthew – the original source of the beatitudes for those who’ve forgotten (or never knew in the first place). Nor, for that matter, am I fit to trim the quill of any of the 47 scholars who labored on the Bible’s King James version and produced some of the English language’s most beautiful poetry – whatever you might think about the religious sentiments these mellifluous phrases convey.

And finally, nor, for that matter, is Trump any Jesus– although if you asked him, I’m not entirely sure he’d necessarily reject that comparison out of hand.

Turning from the Sublime to the Quotidian

Now, some of you appreciate my occasional attempts to coin new words more than others. But whether or not this one catches on, let me move to the matter at hand.

Whatever you choose to call these Trump’s policy fallacies: They’re real, they’re dangerous, and the mainstream media is often preoccupied with chasing the latest clickbait distractions, rather than questioning, debunking, explaining, and analyzing them.

That’s where Naked Capitalism comes in. We  don’t go down that rabbit hole. Yves, Lambert, and other regular and occasional site contributors continue to set the highest of standards, and in the little over a year I’ve been regularly contributing to the site, I hope I’ve helped debunk a canard or two. And if you agree, you should stop here and make your way to the Tip Jar.

How does that apply to the Trumpitudes – the basic policy fallacies?

Well, Yves has emphasized consistently that executive orders have little legal effect. Trump didn’t originate this strategy to govern using executive orders – his predecessor employed similar tactics in several policy areas – such as immigration. The approach rests on the view that any political problem could be solved by better messaging and more effective PR.

But the mainstream media doesn’t do much of that sort of rigorous analysis anymore. Or if it does, the lede is often buried, and the money insight withheld until the end of the article – that part almost nobody reads (including the author’s mother).

That same MSM –alongside the Democrats who just cannot grasp that Trump defeated Hillary, their chosen one – also swallows the second Trumpitude: That the Donald’s policies represent a decisive break with those of his predecessors. Whereas one of the key themes Naked Capitalism has developed in the years I’ve regularly read the site is the consensus the two parties share on many major policy issues, as a result of the American system of campaign finance where money buys results.

On domestic policy, that consensus endorses neoliberalism – TINA. And that in turn leads to concrete policy fails – at least for those who aren’t members of the 1%. These include the failure to prosecute banksters, reform health care, enact policies that would create solid middle class jobs, or provide Americans with nice things people in other rich countries take for granted.

On foreign policy, we’ve seen factions of both parties embrace the even more dangerous– in terms of planetary survival– belief in neoconservatism, in out-of-control war-mongering, extending even to crazypants theories such as winnable nuclear war

By contrast, Naked Capitalism consistently shines a light on dark corners of our political economy, explaining who wins and who loses, by maintaining or changing the rules of the game.

And finally, on the third Trumpitude – those are areas where Trump really is making a decisive break with the past – and either through regulatory action or with the connivance of Congress, -the mainstream media is failing to keep us informed. To be fair, some of these areas are highly technical, and are not easy to explain. One area I’ve covered springs to mind– judicial appointments. Federal judges are appointed for life and will be deciding cases long after Trump’s 5 a.m. tweets are forgotten. But you wouldn’t know that from the relative space the MSM devotes to such concerns.

How You Can Help

Over the last year, I’ve come to appreciate just how crucial the commentariat is to the site’s success. Regular readers pounce on weak arguments, point out factual errors, and spotlight analytical flaws. During the short time that comments were shut down, I certainly missed the commentariat: for your thoughtful questions and comments, which often made me rethink a position or taught me something I didn’t know. The commentariat is a key part of what makes Naked Capitalism as successful as it is.

Keeping this community going requires funding. And that’s where you can help. The more you can contribute, the greater will be Naked Capitalism’s ability to continue to produce the coverage you expect.

Please support our efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. And if you aren’t in a position to give right now, you can help by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and telling friends, family, and colleagues about the site, as well as contributing to our comments section.

There are multiple ways to give. The first is here on the blog, the Tip Jar, which takes you to PayPal. There you can use a debit card, a credit card or a PayPal account (the charge will be in the name of Aurora Advisors).

You can also send a check (or multiple post dated checks, if you want to spread out payments) in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated, sent to:

Aurora Advisors Incorporated
903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10075

Please be sure to let us know if you have sent a check so we can include your contribution in our fundraiser tally. Please send an e-mail with the subject line, “Check is in the mail” with the $ amount, to

We ask you to provide the funds necessary for us to beat on – our small boat tossed to and fro, battling against currents of conventional wisdom and sloppy thinking. Please help us continue to chart our independent course through hazardous waters.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. MK

    Trump the Honey Badger. He operates best (from his pov) when those opposed to him are off kilter. The eye of the storm, if you will. Most folks don’t get that Trump is a canvas and that he invites you to shine your own projections thereon.

  2. Wukchumni

    Now, far be it for me to suggest that Donald J. Trump compares as a world historical figure to Jesus Christ. (And for those of who skipped Sunday school, the Tip Jar is to your right.)

    It is written that Jesus stormed the moneylenders temple with a 30 round clip and pistol whipped said shylocks and fired at dove targets of opportunity.

    So, there might be some similarities, no?

  3. Off The Street

    One unstated policy concern for me is that actors may be manipulated not only for public reasons but for private reasons as well. Consideration of private actions tend to get dismissed as so much conspiracy theorizing, however many have uncovered more than mere grains of truth.

    What accounts for those sudden volte-face pronouncements, those seemingly absurd retrenchments? Who is manipulating whom, for whose benefit? Citizens may get inured to the platitudes and lies of politicians, as though those become part of the accepted thought-space in a hurried-up world of sound bites, screen impressions and so-called influencers. Trump is just the latest incarnation to identify and analyze.

  4. Synoia

    Sarcasm from my files:

    The Neoliberal Beatitudes:

    Blessed are the Rich
    Blessed are they that don’t have to mourn.
    Blessed are the arrogant
    Blessed are they who lie
    Blessed is warmongering, the death penalty, and punishing victimless crime
    Blessed are they who cheat and steal
    Blessed are the warmongers
    Blessed are they who persecute
    Blessed are they who lie and cheat for power’s sake

    The Neoliberal Ethic: What’s the bottom line?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Bottom line? Perhaps the same as Ayn Rand’s? And will they finally end up the same way Ayn Rand did?

  5. Stephen Gardner

    How is it that policy setting by executive order reflects the view that better messaging and PR solves all political problems. I don’t see the connection. Both ideas were mainstays of the Obama presidency and remain so under Trump but how are the related conceptually?

    1. Yves Smith

      We’ve explained that Trump’s executive orders are mainly PR stunts and have no legal force. A President is not a dictator. Trump’s executive orders often say he’s doing things that in fact can be done only via legislation.

      Obama did the same thing with executive orders, but nowhere to the same degree (as in his ratio of effective ones to BS ones was very different).

      However, Obama was a big believer in better propaganda as the solution to all problems. Trump uses a different mix of propaganda strategies than Obama.

    2. animalogic

      The other side of the “executive order” is the “signing statement”, much favoured by Bush II, in which the president essentially tells the world how the legislation in question will function in practice. Government by loophole.

  6. Jamie

    And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying…

    “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”

    – Dear Leader Obama on his election

    “A light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany … and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama”

    – Dearest of Dear Leaders, Barack Obama

  7. Sound of the Suburbs

    The electorate will vote for anyone offering “Hope and Change”

    Obama, he’ll do.

    Trump, he’ll do.

    The Democrats supporting the status quo handed the election to Trump.

    Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the US, the DNC have a lot to answer for.

  8. timotheus

    I appreciate the listing of the total number of donors rather than just the $$ total, neatly reflects the NC spirit.

  9. steelhead


    If I send 2 separate checks to:

    Aurora Advisors Incorporated
    903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
    New York, NY 10075

    Will you obtain the funds? Thanks.

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, I can get them to Lambert, but that’s a pen name and he’s not going to be at an address where he can endorse them over for a long time, as in months. And I’m not at liberty to give out his real name. So as long as your checks don’t have a time limit as to their validity, that would work fine although it will complicate you balancing your checkbook.

  10. JBird

    On that use of nuclear weapons, I lived through part of the Cold War and it was always, always stated that using them WAS A VERY BAD THING. The whole news media, documentaries, and fiction anything was relentless in this. Even if you were 15 when it ended you would have all that in you.

    So now it’s fine to use them. Great. That’s not incompetence, or stupid, that’s willful stupidity.

    1. animalogic

      It’s adolescent, if not infantile stupidity. But the masters of the universe are above such
      mundane phenomena as cause & effect…

Comments are closed.