The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss and Neil Howe.
[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he theoretical slogan “Make America Great Again,” followed in practice with a ban on travel to the US from seven Moslem countries, is ultimately rooted in a sinister theory of history.
The theory does not originate from the new occupant of the White House, who has never exhibited much intellectual curiosity, be it in history, or any other subject for that matter, with the possible exception of business deals, but it is endemic to his most influential and trusted advisor Steve Bannon, the man behind the curtain who landed him in the White House.
Bannon is known as a White Supremacist, with racial and anti-Semitic tendencies; a passionate adherent to a theory of history about America’s future as elucidated in the above mentioned book. There are around a plethora of cyclical theories of history, the most popular being perhaps that of the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico. One could indeed go all the way back to the ancient Greeks who believed that at the end of a given cycle of history (the saeculum) comes a “ekpsyrosis” or a cataclysmic event, a trial of fire of sorts, which destroys the old order and brings about a new one, but this new theory by Strauss and Howe is unique in its sheer darkness. To boot, Bannon misinterprets it to better suit his own political agenda.
As per this theory, there are three turning of history which America has experienced, so far: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Depression followed by World War II. They were marked by massive dislocations, war, and decay from which the people were forced to reunite and build a new order. In other words, first comes a catalyst event from which issues a period of regeneracy climaxed by a war with the old order which ends with a resolution. The resolution is the triumph of the new order.
Bannon seems to be obsessed with the theory. He is convinced that a reckoning is fast approaching, in fact it must necessarily arrive in order for a new order to emerge; also, that the climactic conflict will be conducted from the White House. He has shown himself willing to advise Trump on the enactment of policies disruptive of the current order. It is generally believed that the he was the architect behind the ban, called temporary for now, on travel and on entry Muslims in the US. He was also behind the deletion of the reference to Jews as victims of the Holocaust on its recent yearly commemoration (on the very same day of the ban enacted on Moslems by executive fiat).
One of the side-effects of this encouraged disruption is the breaking down of old political and economic alliances, even the turning away from traditional American principles to create chaos and prepare for the new order. Chaos seems to be the climate in the present White House: rampant confusion under conflicting orders, with Caligula redivivus creating the confusion and then perversely enjoying the reality show, to suddenly show up as the man with the brilliant solutions. It’s as if the Apprentice TV show were still going on. It’s the atmosphere of the Roman Colosseum where the phenomenon of survival of the fittest is the ultimate goal and rationale. Many, in and out of the White House, are concerned and are beginning to entertain the idea of impeachment. Some have even mustered the courage to call him “illegitimate,” which is the equivalent to the little boy in Christian Andersen’s tale shouting “the emperor is naked” as the emperor struts around in his splendid invisible clothes to the sycophantic admiration of his followers.
The bizarre show, as of this writing, goes on unabated. It has to go on, necessarily, because Bannon is attempting to bring about, or fulfill, if you will, the so called fourth turning of US history, a new vision of America as described in the theory above. Trump is merely the means to attain to it. In an interview Bannon has described Trump as “a blunt instrument” but one that he is perfectly willing to use nevertheless, in order to attain the appointed goal of history. It is all rather deterministic with human responsibility, guilt and regret, notably absent from the whole process.
Nevertheless, taking notice of this fourth turning gives some needed context to policies that so far seem deranged, incoherent and inconsistent, unexplainable and confusing even to experts in geo-politics, as they vainly attempt to square the circle and make some rational sense of it all.
Bannon is convinced that we are already in a period of regenaracy. The catalyst was the financial crisis of 2008. As described in the book, this is a period of isolationism, of reimagining the economy (which so far has shown itself prone to a reimagining new tax breaks for the rich…), re-building of the infrastructure, and, most importantly, a strong centralized, authoritarian, powerful government where the executive reigns supreme, unencumbered by too many laws and regulations. But this is only a preparation for a massive conflict of civilizations to come. A conflict between East and West, which may mean the Middle East or perhaps China. Russia, for the moment, seems to be considered a friendly ally, with few if any rationales.
But what does history ultimately show? Does it really repeat itself deterministically, or are the catastrophes of every era unique to each era? Will the fourth Turning be the same as the first, second, and third? To take a close look, it appears that the Fourth Turning of the Civil War was quite different than that of the Depression and World War II.
Logically, it is argued, the financial crisis of 2008 is the catalyst for our crisis and the coming struggle, just as the Depression was for the third turn. But are the two really comparable? During the Depression unemployment reached 20%; in the fourth turning it never went beyond 10%. Unlike the Hoover Administration (an administration which prided itself of its business acumen) which dilly dallied for two whole years, the government of Barack Obama acted very fast to prevent a meltdown and turned the situation around, at least on a financial level.
What this financial crisis has brought about this time around is an exacerbation of the income inequality gap which has been growing globally since it began some forty years ago. That explains the popularity of a Bernie Sanders, and to a certain extent that of Donald Trump, who as one of those who benefitted from and produced the gap, then skilfully used it as a campaign strategy to fool millions of middle class workers who are now waiting for the check in the mail. Good luck. The disappointed will be palpable in a few months.
If there is a comparison to be made, it ought to be that of the inaugural address of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, when he describes a county devastated by the Great Depression, a picture that all Americans could see and recognize; and compare it to that of Trump in 2017 a couple of weeks ago, where he talks of a dark “American carnage.” What was he talking about? Not many can answer that question. But it may aptly describe the deep divisions presently existing in this country of ours.
Unlike the era of FDR which put people back to work and created a national unifying spirit wherein society’s resources were redistributed and society rebuilt, what is most apparent today is discord and disunity, as exemplified by the two main political parties who have all but forgotten the word compromise and harmony. The anger and the authoritarianism is there, apparent to all, but not the yearning for social justice, not the common purpose, or the common good. Division and dissension have been promoted as never before.
And this is where Bannon and him minions in the White House are greatly misguided. They believe that they are working for “the Gray Warrior,” the leader described by Strauss and Howe who will “urgently resist the idea that a second consecutive generation might be denied the American Dream.” The identification of the Gray Warrior in a pathological narcissist who creates “alternate facts” as he goes along is indeed a grave mistake.
They also conveniently forget that the new order in the Germany of 1932 was inaugurated by a power-mad fellow named Adolf Hitler who wanted to make Germany great again. Pari passu, today’s hero and savior, while claiming to be champion of the disadvantaged, continues to pursue his own personal financial and political interests and has so far shown precious little compassion for the poor and the unfortunate.
In reality, the ones who may eventually show us the way forward, out of our impasse and begin the Fourth Turning are not the Trumpists in love with Ayn Rand’s “virtue of selfishness” but the Millennials, the young, whose needs have all but been ignored by the likes of Trump and Bannon.
The only candidate who attracted them during the presidential campaign was Bernie Sanders. Trump appealed and managed to fool mostly an older generation who felt that something had been taken away from them and resented that fact. The millennials have no such resentment; they have, in fact, never been given a chance at the American Dream in the first place. Most of them voted against Trump, many stayed home and for good reasons: Trump had offered them nothing.
What Bannon has failed to grasp is that the Fourth Turning, as envisioned by Strauss and Howe, is not inevitable and deterministic but requires an urgent return to a constitutionally agreed-upon set of values. The millennials have grasped that much. What Bannon and Trump are doing, on the other hand, is that, far from unifying against outside threats, they are creating enemies galore (Mexico, China, Australia, the EU, you name it) which many Americans don’t want to have. That insistence on creating enemies at a tough bargaining table, does nothing but increase the palpable anxiety and frustration.
Indeed, we find ourselves in uncharted perilous territory and history cannot deterministically predict where we will eventually end up. It can only give us guidelines and lessons on how to avoid past mistakes. History however does teach us that to ignore the voices of justice and reason is to make sure that we will end up with an enormous political disaster on our hands. In a way we already have one reigning disaster right inside the White House. Those who did not vote for confusion and dissension (by 3 million votes difference) are now asked to go along for the ride with the mad emperor. Such are the ways and byways of democracy. In any case, better buckle up; the ride is likely to be bumpy.
Author’s note: this essay has already appeared in Ovi Magazine on February 6, 2017
Why America’s major news-media must change their thinking
America’s ‘news’-media possess the mentality that characterizes a dictatorship, not a democracy. This will be documented in the linked-to empirical data which will be subsequently discussed. But, first, here is what will be documented by those data, and which will make sense of these data:
In a democracy, the public perceive their country to be improving, in accord with that nation’s values and priorities. Consequently, they trust their government, and especially they approve of the job-performance of their nation’s leader. In a dictatorship, they don’t. In a dictatorship, the government doesn’t really represent them, at all. It represents the rulers, typically a national oligarchy, an aristocracy of the richest 0.1% or even of only the richest 0.01%. No matter how much the government ‘represents’ the public in law (or “on paper”), it’s not representing them in reality; and, so, the public don’t trust their government, and the public’s job-rating of their national leader, the head-of-state, is poor, perhaps even more disapproval than approval. So, whereas in a democracy, the public widely approve of both the government and the head-of-state; in a dictatorship, they don’t.
In a dictatorship, the ‘news’-media hide reality from the public, in order to serve the government — not the public. But the quality of government that the regime delivers to its public cannot be hidden as the lies continually pile up, and as the promises remain unfulfilled, and as the public find that despite all of the rosy promises, things are no better than before, or are even becoming worse. Trust in such a government falls, no matter how much the government lies and its media hide the fact that it has been lying. Though a ‘democratic’ election might not retain in power the same leaders, it retains in power the same regime (be it the richest 0.1%, or the richest 0.01%, or The Party, or whatever the dictatorship happens to be). That’s because it’s a dictatorship: it represents the same elite of power-holding insiders, no matter what. It does not represent the public. That elite — whatever it is — is referred to as the “Deep State,” and the same Deep State can control more than one country, in which case there is an empire, which nominally is headed by the head-of-state of its leading country (this used to be called an “Emperor”), but which actually consists of an alliance between the aristocracies within all these countries; and, sometimes, the nominal leading country is actually being led, in its foreign policies, by wealthier aristocrats in the supposedly vassal nations. But no empire can be a democracy, because the residents in no country want to be governed by any foreign power: the public, in every land, want their nation to be free — they want democracy, no dictatorship at all, especially no dictatorship from abroad.
In order for the elite to change, a revolution is required, even if it’s only to a different elite, instead of to a democracy. So, if there is no revolution, then certainly it’s the same dictatorship as before. The elite has changed (and this happens at least as often as generations change), but the dictatorship has not. And in order to change from a dictatorship to a democracy, a revolution also is required, but it will have to be a revolution that totally removes from power the elite (and all their agents) who had been ruling. If this elite had been the nation’s billionaires and its centi-millionaires who had also been billionaire-class donors to political campaigns (such as has been proven to be the case in the United States), then those people, who until the revolution had been behind the scenes producing the bad government, need to be dispossessed of their assets, because their assets were being used as their weapons against the public, and those weapons need (if there is to be a democracy) to be transferred to the public as represented by the new and authentically democratic government. If instead the elite had been a party, then all of those individuals need to be banned from every sort of political activity in the future. But, in either case, there will need to be a new constitution, and a consequent new body of laws, because the old order (the dictatorship) no longer reigns — it’s no longer in force after a revolution. That’s what “revolution” means. It doesn’t necessarily mean “democratic,” but sometimes it does produce a democracy where there wasn’t one before.
The idea that every revolution is democratic is ridiculous, though it’s often assumed in ‘news’-reports. In fact, coups (which the U.S. Government specializes in like no other) often are a revolution that replaces a democracy by a dictatorship (such as the U.S. Government did to Ukraine in 2014, for example, and most famously before that, did to Iran in 1953). (Any country that perpetrates a coup anywhere is a dictatorship over the residents there, just the same as is the case when any invasion and occupation of a country are perpetrated upon a country. The imposed stooges are stooges, just the same. No country that imposes coups and/or invasions/occupations upon any government that has not posed an existential threat against the residents of that perpetrating country, supports democracy; to the exact contrary, that country unjustifiably imposes dictatorships; it spreads its own dictatorship, which is of the imperialistic type, and any government that spreads its dictatorship is evil and needs to be replaced — revolution is certainly justified there.)
This is how to identify which countries are democracies, and which ones are not: In a democracy, the public are served by the government, and thus are experiencing improvement in their lives and consequently approve of the job-performance of their head-of-state, and they trust the government. But in a dictatorship, none of these things is true.
In 2014, a Japanese international marketing-research firm polled citizens in each of ten countries asking whether they approve or disapprove of the job-performance of their nation’s head-of-state, and Harvard then provided an English-translated version online for a few years, then eliminated that translation from its website; but, fortunately, the translation had been web-archived and so is permanent here (with no information however regarding methodology or sampling); and it shows the following percentages who approved of the job-performance of their President or other head-of-state in each of the given countries, at that time:
- China (Xi) 90%
- Russia (Putin) 87%
- India (Modi) 86%
- South Africa (Zuma) 70%
- Germany (Merkel) 67%
- Brazil (Roussef) 63%
- U.S. (Obama) 62%
- Japan (Abe) 60%
- UK (Cameron) 55%
- France (Hollande) 48%
In January 2018, the global PR firm Edelman came out with the latest in their annual series of scientifically polled surveys in more than two dozen countries throughout the world, tapping into, actually, some of the major criteria within each nation indicating whether or not the given nation is more toward the dictatorship model, or more toward the democracy model. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer survey showed that “Trust in Government” (scored and ranked on page 39) is 44% in Russia, and is only 33% in the United States. Trust in Government is the highest in China: 84%. The U.S. and Russia are the nuclear super-powers; and the U.S. and China are the two economic super-powers; so, these are the world’s three leading powers; and, on that single measure of whether or not a country is democratic, China is the global leader (#1 of 28), Russia is in the middle (#13 of 28), and U.S. ranks at the bottom of the three, and near the bottom of the entire lot (#21 of 28). (#28 of 28 is South Africa, which, thus — clearly in retrospect — had a failed revolution when it transitioned out of its apartheid dictatorship. That’s just a fact, which cannot reasonably be denied, given this extreme finding. Though the nation’s leader, Zuma, was, according to the 2014 Japanese study, widely approved by South Africans, his Government was overwhelmingly distrusted. This distrust indicates that the public don’t believe that the head-of-state actually represents the Government. If the head-of-state doesn’t represent the Government, the country cannot possibly be a democracy: the leader might represent the people, but the Government doesn’t.)
When the government is trusted but the head-of-state is not, or vice-versa, there cannot be a functioning democracy. In other words: if either the head-of-state, or the Government, is widely distrusted, there’s a dictatorship at that time, and the only real question regarding it, is: What type of dictatorship is this?
These figures — the numbers reported here — contradict the ordinary propaganda; and, so, Edelman’s trust-barometer on each nation’s ‘news’-media (which are scored and ranked on page 40) might also be considered, because the natural question now is whether unreliable news-media might have caused this counter-intuitive (in Western countries) rank-order. However, a major reason why this media-trust-question is actually of only dubious relevance to whether or not the given nation is a democracy, is that to assume that it is, presumes that trust in the government can be that easily manipulated — it actually can’t. Media and PR can’t do that; they can’t achieve it. Here is a widespread misconception: Trust in government results not from the media but from a government’s having fulfilled its promises, and from the public’s experiencing and seeing all around themselves that they clearly have been fulfilled; and lying ‘news’-media can’t cover-up that reality, which is constantly and directly being experienced by the public.
However, even if trust in the ‘news’-media isn’t really such a thing as might be commonly hypothesized regarding trust in the government, here are those Edelman findings regarding the media, for whatever they’re worth regarding the question of democracy-versus-dictatorship: Trust in Media is the highest, #1, in China, 71%; and is 42% in #15 U.S.; and is 35% in #20 Russia. (A July 2017 Marist poll however found that only 30% of Americans trust the media. That’s a stunning 12% lower than the Edelman survey found.) In other words: Chinese people experience that what they encounter in their news-media becomes borne-out in retrospect as having been true, but only half of that percentage of Russians experience this; and U.S. scores nearer to Russia than to China on this matter. (Interestingly, Turkey, which scores #7 on trust-in-government, scores #28 on trust-in-media. Evidently, Turks find that their government delivers well on its promises, but that their ‘news’-media often deceive them. A contrast this extreme within the Edelman findings is unique. Turkey is a special case, regarding this.)
I have elsewhere reported regarding other key findings in that 2018 Edelman study.
According to all of these empirical findings, the United States is clearly not more of a democracy than it is a dictatorship. This particular finding from these studies has already been overwhelmingly (and even more so) confirmed in the world’s only in-depth empirical scientific study of whether or not a given country is or is not a “democracy”: This study (the classic Gilens and Page study) found, incontrovertibly, that the U.S. is a dictatorship — specifically an aristocracy, otherwise commonly called an “oligarchy,” and that it’s specifically a dictatorship by the richest, against the public.
Consequently, whenever the U.S. Government argues that it intends to “spread democracy” (such as it claims in regards to Syria, and to Ukraine), it is most-flagrantly lying — and any ‘news’-medium that reports such a claim without documenting (such as by linking to this article) its clear and already-proven falsehood (which is more fully documented here than has yet been done anywhere, since the Gilens and Page study is here being further proven by these international data), is no real ‘news’-medium at all, but is, instead, a propaganda-vehicle for the U.S. Government, a propaganda-arm of a dictatorship — a nation that has been overwhelmingly proven to be a dictatorship, not a democracy.
The American public seem to know this (though the ‘news’-media routinely deny it by using phrases such as ‘America’s democracy’ in the current tense, not merely as referrng to some past time): A scientifically designed Monmouth University poll of 803 American adults found — and reported on March 19th — that 74% believed either probably or definitely that “a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy” (commonly called the “Deep State”) actually exists in America.
The question as asked was: “The term Deep State refers to the possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy. Do you think this type of Deep State in the federal government definitely exists, probably exists, probably does not exist, or definitely does not exist?” 27% said “Definitely”; 47% said “Probably”; only 16% said “Probably not”; and only 5% said “Definitely not.”
In effect, then: 74% think America is a dictatorship; only 21% think it’s not. So: this isn’t only fact; it’s also widespread belief. How, then, can the American Government claim that when it invades a country like Iraq (2003), or like Libya (2011), or like Syria (2012-), or like Ukraine (by coup in 2014), it’s hoping to ‘bring democracy’ there? Only by lying. Even the vast majority of the American public now know this.
So: America’s major ‘news’-media will have to change their thinking, to become at least as realistic as the American public already are. The con on that, has evidently run its course. It simply discredits those ‘news’-media.
first published at strategic-culture.org
Movement of the White House towards radicalism
The removal of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from power and the replacement of CIA chief Mike Pompeo will create new crises at the White House. In the domestic circles of the United States, Tillerson was considered one of the few symbols of political rationality in the Trump cabinet. However, Pompeo has always been a symbol of extremism in the political and security structures of the United States.
Consequently, the domestic circles of America believe that Tramps has thrown Tillerson out of power, radicalism and extremism in his government. Accordingly, Tramp will henceforth be more costly in the international system and foreign policy of his country.
The U.S. president has ousted the Foreign Minister while Washington and Pyongyang have not yet begun talks on the disagreements. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is scheduled to make a final decision on a nuclear deal with Iran in about two months. In such a situation, the U.S. Secretary of State is about to create new crises in the White House.
Although the American political structure (especially in the field of foreign policy) has little connection with the presence of people in power, the presence of Pompeo as a symbol of extremism at the top of U.S. foreign policy equations represents a more serious confrontation between Trump’s government and the international community.
Pompeo’s presence at the head of the U.S. foreign policy equation has raised a lot of concerns among Washington’s allies, especially the European ones. One of the issues in which Pompeo and Trump are shared is to confront the existence and nature of the European Union.
Pompeo, as the head of the CIA, has played a significant role in supporting extremist right-wing and nationalist groups in Europe over the last year. In some of his positions, Donald Trump has explicitly supported phenomena such as election and called for the modeling of other European countries. Europe’s return to nationalism is a major policy that Tramp and Pompeo have followed and are pursuing in the last year (especially in 2017). Obviously, this process will intensify during Pompeo’s presence at the U.S. Department of State.
As Guardian reported, Rex Tillerson will go down as one of the worst secretaries of state in U.S. history. And yet, with his departure and replacement by CIA director Mike Pompeo, things could get a whole lot worse for U.S. national security.
Donald Trump made clear his disdain for diplomacy from day one of his presidency, and that he views foreign policy as an endeavor for the military, not the state department. He proposed enormous increases in the military budget while attempting to slash the state department budget by roughly a third. Trump appointed generals to be secretary of defense, national security advisor (twice) and White House chief of staff, while appointing as secretary of state someone with no diplomatic experience.
If Trump’s contempt for diplomacy somehow wasn’t clear, he did his best to actively undermine his secretary of state, criticizing him in public on a number of occassions. In the fall of 2017, as Tillerson attempted to open a diplomatic process with North Korea, Trump tweeted to the world, “I told Rex Tillerson … he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” When a Middle East dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar broke out in 2017, as Tillerson scrambled to calm the situation and mediate, Trump undercut him by publicly siding with Saudi Arabia.
So it should come as no surprise that Tillerson would find out he was fired when his boss tweeted the news to the world.Despite this poor treatment, it is hard to shed a tear for Tillerson. He has been a good soldier in enabling a military-first foreign policy, in which the state department is relegated to an afterthought.
He has worked aggressively to gut the state department, not filling key positions, and implementing freezes on hiring, all of which have contributed to a hostile environment and low morale. The nation’s most senior diplomats have resigned over the last year, leading to a wave of exits of career diplomats at all levels that has depleted the ranks of the nation’s diplomatic corps. It will take years to rebuild the state department in the wake of the damage inflicted by Trump and Tillerson.
Guardian continues that On leading America’s diplomacy with the world and running the state department, Tillerson has been an utter disaster – but his policy views were about as moderate as they come inside the Trump administration. He has been one of the administration’s strongest voices for diplomacy with North Korea.
He was reportedly an advocate of remaining in the Paris climate change agreement. And he supposedly tried to keep the U.S. in the Iran nuclear deal.If and when Pompeo replaces him, we should be deeply concerned – both because of Pompeo’s more hawkish views, and where they might take America on the critical foreign policy decisions coming down the pike.
The fate of the Iran deal is once again hanging in the balance, and with it potentially more conflict in the Middle East. Trump has set a 12 May deadline for getting European allies on board with changes to the Iran deal, and has reportedly said that he will exit the deal if those changes aren’t made.While Tillerson advocated remaining in the deal, Pompeo has been a vocal critic of the 2015 agreement.
If the U.S. unilaterally withdraws from the deal, there’s no telling where tensions with Iran – which is already fighting proxy wars in Syria and Yemen – could go.This development doesn’t bode well for diplomacy with North Korea, either. As Trump prepares for a possible summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Tillerson’s exit could signal a much harder line on talks.
Whereas Tillerson has been a proponent of diplomacy with North Korea, Pompeo’s public language on North Korea has been more aggressive, and he has openly hinted at regime change. A negotiation with North Korea is one of the most difficult diplomatic endeavors one can imagine – and Pompeo, like Tillerson, has no diplomatic experience.
And then there’s Russia. Tillerson has hardly been tough on Russia, prioritizing attempts at cooperation over pushing back against clearly destabilizing actions by Russia, including its interference in the 2016 election. While Pompeo held critical views of Russia during his time in Congress and has admitted that Russia interfered in the election, it’s unclear for which policies Pompeo will advocate.
To those ends, there are reasons for concern: at Trump’s request, Pompeo met with a conspiracy theorist peddling the falsehood that the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails in 2016 was an inside job, not Russian hacking. He also falsely claimed that the CIA concluded that Russian meddling did not affect the election’s outcome. As war rages in Syria and Ukraine, and Russia continues interfering in U.S. politics, Pompeo will be a key player in leading U.S. policy on all.
At the end of the day, the president directs foreign policy, and no change in personnel will alter the unique chaos of Trump’s foreign policy. But if past is prologue, Pompeo appears much more willing than Tillerson to toe Trump’s line – a very dangerous prospect.This development may prove that no matter how bad things look, in Donald Trump’s administration, they can always get worse.
First published in our partner Tehran Times
A Deceitful Trump Has Difficulty Filling Administration Jobs
A politician on center stage calls Mexican immigrants rapists and killers for those people send their bad guys here; says Syrian refugees are snakes and they and other Muslims could harbor ISIS among them; says African countries are sh*tholes and Haitian immigrants carry aids … . Then without a hint of irony or embarrassment — except a permanently red face — he proclaims, “I am the least racist person anybody is going to meet.” What would a rational individual call him?
The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Bella De Paulo on Donald Trump’s lies and lying, drawing on her research work and the Post’s Fact Checker. It turns out he is an inveterate liar and, worse, a cruel one for his lies are often malicious. The op-ed was also taken up by the right-leaning Chicago Tribune, the leading such organ in Chicago.
Bella De Paulo is a social scientist who earlier on in her career as a professor at the University of Virginia studied lies and liars jointly with some colleagues there. Since October 2017, President Trump, she notes, “told a remarkable nine lies a day outpacing even the biggest liars in our research.” It gets worse.
Most of the lies (about half) in their study of college students and general community members in the area were self-serving intended to advantage the liars. Less often they told kind lies, like the woman telling her mother she did not mind taking her shopping. These constituted about a quarter.
One category was so small as to warrant just a footnote in their study. This was the cruel lie intended to hurt or disparage someone. Only 0.8 percent of student participants’ lies and 2.4 percent of community members’ lies fell in this category.
President Trump is different, shockingly different. To use his favorite adjective, an amazing 50 percent of his lies were in the cruel category, the content hurtful or disparaging. His kind lies were few, outnumbered 6.6 times by self-serving ones. It is not surprising then that 58 percent of voters questioned in a Quinnipiac University poll last November thought he was not honest. As most people tend to believe others, there has to be a good reason to label someone dishonest. The old adage, one can’t fool all of the people all of the time appears to be working — the people have caught on.
The departures from the Trump administration took in the most prestigious cabinet post. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired; Mr. Trump apparently furious at his enthusiastic support for the British in their reaction to the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The pair remain in critical condition. The nerve agent used, Novichok, was developed in Russia. Mr. Skripal acted as a double agent for the UK in the 1990s and early 2000s betraying many agents. Would that assemble enemies?
President Trump, therefore, had a point. However, within a few days he had flip-flopped. He is now projecting a united front with the British, the Germans and the French on the issue. Clearly, there were also other reasons for his unhappiness with Mr. Tillerson, including the latter’s reported pithy description of him as ‘a f***ing moron’. Disagreements on political appointees was another issue. Moreover, Tillerson’s radical reorganization efforts were not popular with career officials in his department.
Trump’s chief economic adviser resigned last week. His successor Larry Kudlow is a long-time media personality. He is not what one would call a professional economist. In fact, he does not even have an economics degree. He is a journalist. He is also an ardent supply-sider and trickle-downer though — no doubt to Trump’s liking — and he played a role alongside the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore on Trump’s tax plan during his campaign.
So the arrivals and departures at Trump Junction continue, a busier place than almost any previous administration and with numerous government vacancies. But then, are there many who want to risk a job with the mercurial Trump when it is also difficult to believe much of what he says?
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Belgian Parliamentarian, Andries Gryffroy, shares his views on enabling energy access through pro-renewables policy making Parliamentarians from around the world...
Why America’s major news-media must change their thinking
America’s ‘news’-media possess the mentality that characterizes a dictatorship, not a democracy. This will be documented in the linked-to empirical...
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