Steve Bannon is "Trump's brain."  Bannon controls Donald Trump using his belief in William Strauss and Neil Howe's (S&H) The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1997), on which he based his movie.  S&H begin by stating, "America feels like it's unraveling."  John Higgs (Stranger Than We Can Imagine) writes that in the years leading up to 1980, this was not apparent.  But George Packer (The Unwinding) refers to the years after 1978 as the unwinding where Neoliberalism sent economic growth from the middle-class to the "very riches" and changed the social-strata of the nation.

Packer insists the unwinding was helped along in 1987 when the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 repealing its own Fairness Doctrine, which had been in effect since 1949--required licensees of the public-airwaves to present important issues in a honest-and-equitable manner," which led to the future Breitbart and other right-wing networks.

S&H insist the core of modern history is divided into four cycles or "turnings," each called the saeculum.  "Together, the four turnings of the saeculum comprise history's seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction.  The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one."  This is saeculum that Bannon is convinced Trump controls.

S&H predict the next Fourth Turning is due beginning after the new millennium around 2005, "a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood.  Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate.  Political and economic trust will implode.  Real hardship besets the land, with severe distress involving questions of class, race, nation, and empire.  This distress brings seeds of social rebirth.  Americans will share a regret about recent mistakes--and a resolute new consensus about what to do.  The very survival of the nation will feel at stake.  Sometime before 2025, American will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II."

S&H urge the public to prepare in advance of the Fourth Turning believing that "as every generation reenacts the legends and myths of its ancestors, we can together establish new legends and myths--ones that can shape, and teach posterity."  However, Bannon errors in his selection of Trump as "Gray Champion" serving at "a moment of Crisis," because Trump behaves as Anti-Christ, not the E-Pluribus-Unum-American-Messiah.

S&H posit that the Fourth epoch that began with V-J Day will reach a natural climax and come to an end, but an end of what?  The next could be an omnicidal Armageddon, destroying everything, leaving nothing.  If this occurs it will be because its dominant [White] civilization triggers a Fourth Turning that ends horribly.  This would require a blend of social disaster, human malevolence, [tweeting] technological perfection, and bad luck.  A New Dark Ages would settle in, until some new civilization could be cobbled together from the ruins.  The Fourth Turning spares modernity but marks the end of America--closing the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America signifies.


Or the Fourth Turning could simply mark the end of the Millennial saeculum.  Mankind, modernity, and America would all persevere.  Afterward, there would be a new mood, a new High, and a new saeculum.  America would be reborn.  But, reborn, it wouldn't be the same.


S&H seem to be warning that with Donald Trump's presidency, the new saeculum could find America a worse place; it might no longer be a great power.  Its global stature eclipsed by foreign rivals.  Its geography smaller--culture less dominant-- military less effective--government totalitarian.  It’s Constitution less inspiring.  Trumpism might evoke nothing like the hope and respect of its American Century forebear.  Abroad, people of goodwill and civilized taste might perceive American society as a newly dangerous place.  Or they might see it as decayed, antiquated, and less central to human progress than we now are.  All of this is plausible, and possible, in the natural turning of saecular time.


Historian Herbert P. Jones in his dissertation Waterloo Iowa: From Campsite to Industrial City proposes his thesis of American rebirth: The Centennial History of the United States.  In this theory of US history, the United States is in the correct political position for the dawn of the century.  He states that America begins each new century Conservative.  Toward the 40s political and social discontent becomes evident.  This discontent becomes militant upheaval by the 60s as the U.S. becomes more Liberal.  Then towards the 80s, the U.S. leans toward Conservatism, but Liberalism still remains dominant.  By the mid-90s Conservationism regains control and the century closes out Conservative.

As proof of this theory, Dr. Jones cites that at 1700, there were the 13 Colonies ruled by England.  During the 1740s, the colonist began to become discontent with British taxation, or so they complained, "Taxation Without Representation."  By the 1760s, the Boston Tea Party and other civil-disobedience began.  And by the 1770s, all out rebellion against the "Mother Country."  The 1780s saw America born and bred.  Rebellion postwar was brought on by internal rebellion such as Shay's Rebellion and so-forth, which was put down by Conservative governmental entities, and Conservatism finished out the century.

The 1800s began with Slavery still in force.  By the 1840s, Slavery in a democracy was being questioned as Liberalism began to take hold.  By the 1860s agitation began resulting in the Civil War.  By the 1870s Reconstruction was part of the Liberal consensus.  By the 1980s Conservatism began to show its head and by the 1896, the former slaves were all but re-enslaved and Plessey V. Ferguson began legalized segregation that did not end until Brown V. the Board 1954.

1900 Conservatism and WWI, The Red Summer followed by the rise of the KKK in the 1920s, and the Jazz Age.  By the 1930s Race Wars in the North and Lynching in the South, and the Great Migration.  1940s saw WWII with Japan and in Europe led to U.S. involvement and Segregated Army sent to Europe.  Black American Troops were members of the French Army during WWI, not the U.S. Army.  Liberalism and war-guilt set in 1950s--President Truman desegregated the Armed Forces.  Civil Rights movement of 1950s brought Martin Luther King Jr. to prominence.  1960s Vietnam protests.  1970s Powell Memorandum against American Workers; led to the election of Ronald Reagan.  1980s, Conservatism as corporations took over government: White lives no longer mattered as Reagan & Thatcher Neoliberalism did the work of  corporate masters: busting unions thus reducing the middle-class to penury.  The 1990s Conservatism of Bill Clinton's Centrism, completed the Reagan project with NAFTA.   Late 1990s: Bush Jr. Years: War and Conservative Right-wing Christianity and Orthodox Judaism combined to lead to the Conservatism of the 21st century.


Who's hoarding the American dream? ( via Pexels)Who's hoarding the American dream? ( via Pexels)

We all know about the one percent — America’s ultra-wealthy whose wealth has exploded in recent years to towering heights. What we don’t talk about so much is the twenty percent — America’s upper middle class, who have also done very well, thank you, while the 80 percent has flat-lined. The twenty percent, says my guest today, sees itself as deserving, meritocratic winners, but they are buttressing their status — and their childrens’ — with old-fashioned class barriers. This hour On Point: the hold of the 20 percent. -- Tom Ashbrook


Richard Reeves, author of, “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else In The Dust, Why That Is A Problem, And What To Do About It." Senior fellow in economic studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute. (@RichardvReeves)

From Tom's Reading List

The Atlantic:The Hoarding of the American Dream — "In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is expensive. Children are expensive. Travel is expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars a month evaporate like cold champagne spilled on a hot lanai, they argue. And the 20 percent are not the one percent."

New York Times: Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich — "So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty."

Washington Post: Check your privilege, upper middle class — "This idea and ideal of a middle-class society makes sense when incomes are reasonably equal. Some people may be better off than others, but if most are broadly in the same economic boat, it makes sense for that boat to be the USS Middle Class. But growing income inequality has stretched the definition of middle class to the breaking point, especially toward the top."

Are You A Dream Hoarder?

Created by Jessica Pavone and Yohann Paris for the Brookings Institution. Music by Gastón Reboredo. Inspired by “The Voter Suppression Trail.”

This program aired on June 21, 2017.


'From The Ashes' Documents Rise And Fall Of Coal In America


After President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to lead a group of mayors, governors and CEOs in cutting emissions according to the Paris framework. And now Bloomberg also has a film out documenting coal's rise and fall in America, From the Ashes.


Republicans' Proposed Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Rural Patients Hard


June 22, 20175:00 AM ET

Pemiscot Memorial, the public hospital in one of Missouri's poorest counties, depends on Medicaid funding to survive, its CEO says.

Bram Sable-Smith/Side Effects Public Media

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding.

"A lot of hospitals like [ours] could get hurt," says Kerry Noble, CEO of Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems, which runs the public hospital in Pemiscot County, one of the poorest in Missouri.

The GOP's American Health Care Act would cut Medicaid — the public insurance program for many low-income families, children and elderly Americans, as well as people with disabilities — by as much as $834 billion. The Congressional Budget Office has said that would result in 23 million more people being uninsured in the next 10 years. Even more could lose coverage under the budget proposed by President Trump, which suggests an additional $610 billion in cuts to the program.

That is a problem for small rural hospitals like Pemiscot Memorial, which depend on Medicaid. The hospital serves an agricultural county that ranks worst in Missouri for most health indicators, including premature deaths, quality of life and even adult smoking rates. Closing the county's hospital could make those much worse.

And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer. Pemiscot County already has the state's highest unemployment rate. Losing the hospital would mean losing the county's largest employer.

"It would be devastating economically," Noble says. "Our annual payrolls are around $20 million a year."

All of that weighs on Noble's mind when he ponders the hospital's future. Pemiscot's story is a lesson in how decisions made by state and federal lawmakers have put these small hospitals on the edge of collapse.

Pemiscot Memorial had plans for expansion and improvements that the county hospital was ready to make — and pay for — in 2005, before the state legislature slashed Medicaid rolls.

Bram Sable-Smith/Side Effects Public Media

Back in 2005, things were very different. The hospital was doing well, and Noble commissioned a $16 million plan to completely overhaul the facility, which was built in 1951.

"We were going to pay for the first phase of that in cash. We didn't even need to borrow any money for it," Noble says while thumbing through the old blueprints in his office at the hospital.

But those renovations never happened. In 2005, the Missouri legislature passed sweeping cuts to Medicaid. More than 100,000 Missourians lost their health coverage, and this had an immediate impact on Pemiscot Memorial's bottom line. About 40 percent of their patients were enrolled in Medicaid at the time, and nearly half of them lost their insurance in the cuts.

Those now-uninsured patients still needed care, though, and as a public hospital, Pemiscot Memorial had to take them in.

"So we're still providing care, but we're no longer being compensated," Noble says.

And as the cost of treating the uninsured went up, the hospital's already slim margins shrunk. The hospital went into survival mode.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to help with the problem of uncompensated care. It offered rural hospitals a potential lifeline by giving states the option to expand Medicaid to a larger segment of their populations. In Missouri, that would have covered about 300,000 people.

"It was the fundamental building block [of the ACA] that was supposed to cover low-income Americans," says Sidney Watson, a St. Louis University health law professor.

In Missouri, Kerry Noble and Pemiscot Memorial became the poster children for Medicaid expansion. In 2013, Noble went to the state capital to make the case for expansion on behalf of the hospital.

"Our facility will no longer be in existence if this expansion does not occur," Noble told a crowd at a press conference.

"Medicaid cuts are always hard to rural hospitals," Watson says. "People have less employer-sponsored coverage in rural areas and people are relying more on Medicaid and on Medicare."

But the Missouri legislature voted against expansion.

For now, the doors of Pemiscot Memorial are still open. The hospital has cut some costly programs — like obstetrics — outsourced its ambulance service and has skipped upgrades.

"People might look at us and say, 'See, you didn't need Medicaid expansion. You're still there,' " Noble says. "But how long are we going to be here if we don't get some relief?"

Relief for rural hospitals is not what is being debated in Washington right now. Under the GOP House plan, even states like Missouri that did not expand Medicaid could see tens of thousands of residents losing their Medicaid coverage.

This story is part of NPR's reporting partnership with KBIA, Side Effects Public Media and Kaiser Health News. The local version also got support from the Association of Health Care Journalists and The Commonwealth Fund.

Around the Nation

Exxon-Mobil Uses Carbon Tax Strategy To Its Advantage, Author Says


ExxonMobil and several other oil companies are backing a Republican-led plan for a carbon tax. Steve Inskeep talks to Steve Coll, author of the book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power


CHART: Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Health Care Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the chamber after announcing the release of the Republicans' health care bill on Thursday.J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

The Senate proposal is broadly similar to the bill passed by House Republicans last month, with a few notable differences. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been criticized for drafting the bill in secret with just a dozen Republican Senate colleagues, says the proposal — which he calls a discussion draft — will stabilize insurance markets, strengthen Medicaid and cut costs to consumers.

"We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare's mandates. And policies contained in the discussion draft will repeal the individual mandates so Americans are no longer forced to buy insurance they don't need or can't afford," McConnell said.

Instead, the bill entices people to voluntarily buy a policy by offering them tax credits based on age and income to help pay premiums.

This bill is better designed than the House version, according to Avik Roy, founder of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, because it offers more help to older people who can't afford insurance while making coverage cheaper for young healthy people.

"The bill will encourage a lot more of those individuals to buy health insurance," Roy says. "That, in turn, will make the risk pool much healthier, which will also lower premiums. And the tax credits in the bill will also be better-designed."

But Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at the consulting firm Avalere Health, says the bill bases its tax credits on lower-quality insurance."If you're paying a similar percentage of income, you're getting a less generous product under this new plan," she says.

The plan keeps some popular parts of Obamacare. It allows parents keep their children on their policies until age 26 and requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

But it then allows states to opt out of that requirement.

"The protections around pre-existing conditions are still in place in the Senate bill, but the waiver authority gives states options that could include limiting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions," says Pearson.

Those waivers would allow state to drop benefits required by Obamacare, such as maternity coverage, mental health care and prescription drug coverage.

Both bills would eliminate most of the taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

And they would bar people from using tax credits to buy policies that pay for abortion and also block Planned Parenthood from getting any money from Medicaid for a year.

Perhaps the most sweeping move, however, is that the Senate plan follows the House lead in completely changing how the government pays for health care for the poor and the disabled — and goes even further.

Today, Medicaid pays for all the care people need, and state and federal governments share the cost.

But Medicaid has been eating up an ever-larger share of federal spending. The Senate Republicans' plan puts a lid on that by rolling back the Obama-era expansion of the program and then granting states a set amount of money for each person enrolled. Republicans also want to change the way the federal government calculates payments to the states starting in 2025, reducing the federal government's contribution to the states.

"The Medicaid cuts are even more draconian that the House bill was, though they take effect more gradually than the House bill did," Pearson says. "So we're going to see very significant reductions in coverage in Medicaid and big cuts in federal funding that will result in significant budget gaps for states."

Several Republican senators have already said they oppose the bill, at least as of now. Senate leaders are aiming for a vote before July 4.

Views: 54

Comment by mary gravitt on June 30, 2017 at 1:24pm

This 4th of July, take time to ask your Congressional representative, "What's going on with US?"  Are we one nation indivisible, or a reinvented fascist state under control of Bannon Network?  Sometimes you ave to ask because this is not America, and that person sitting in the White House insulting women, can't be the President of the United States.

What's going on?

Comment by koshersalaami on June 30, 2017 at 1:39pm

"Indivisible" has become a cruel joke in too many directions. 

Comment by MV Neland on June 30, 2017 at 11:08pm

Mary, thx for all these links! Chris Hedges is one of my favorite thinkers, so it's very wonderful to see that link. And, The Real News Network is such an incredible model for community journalism that both practices AND speaks to social justice as requisite to understanding news events...or the lack of them as well, I suppose.  Ok, i'm hoping for the saeculum where we all evolve and mend the planet. And, to that end, we are all doing the Good Work. I will enjoy learning about the Fourth Turning. I see some of the patterns in human affairs you described. I am grateful that they are not as deep and abiding as the patterns of the stars or the faithful course of the moon, or that rivers will always run if there is rain. Yours was a goodly long and thought provoking selection to post. I hope the nicer librarians were at hand.

Comment by mary gravitt on July 3, 2017 at 10:34am

We as Americans believe things just happen, not that there is a history behind every political move.  Just like Karl Rove was Bush's brain.  Steve Bannon is Trump's brain.  And not one seems to be paying attention, that is who can do something about this strange alliance.  But to be informed is to be fore-armed.

Comment by MV Neland on July 3, 2017 at 11:00am

Mary, come to think of it, you are right. For many Americans, oddly, there is no history, no cause. No wonder i'm often so frustrated laying out cause and effect descriptions to glassy-eyed people! Makes me wanna stick to fiction and i'd be happier and better at it, too.  Dicjens learned that. 

Yet, i relish the chance to learn new and deeper explanations then run off to share those. In all the circus, i have been guilty of ignoring Steve Bannon, too. Rove WAS the man behind W. Bush as Cheney was the Wurm-tongue whisperer behind Reagan. And, that must be why Trump is subtely and expertly (and always timed perfectly in my estimation) managing to continue dismantling civil and environmental rights and foil the house and senate investigations into him all the while appearing an idiot?  

Ok. Back to more studying. Keep the links and your assessments coming, Mary! We're in even bigger trouble than i thought, and i thought the trouble was damn deep.


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Apartheid Version 2.0

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Off With His Head!!!!!

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Birth of a New Day

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A Body of Work

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