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Master of lies

September 13, 2018

Trump’s recent lie that GDP growth exceeded the unemployment rate for the first time in a century shares the characteristics of many of his lies. It is easily shown false. It is self-aggrandizing. And a rational person might think it is needless, since it actually is kind of strange to compare the two rates in that fashion. Vox has a short video on why a firehose of lies make such good propaganda, perhaps especially when they are obviously false.

That video misses something, though: working around the firehose of lies is part of what unifies Trump’s enablers. That includes the anonymous author of the recent NYT editorial. Fintan O’Toole explains how authoritarians take advantage of that:

At the highest level of the German military command, Adolf Hitler was known as “Gröfaz”, a mocking, knowing, cynical acronym of “Grösster Feldherr aller Zeiten”: “the greatest commander of all time”. This was a way of marking their own sense of superiority: we know he’s a maniac but we serve him and guide him for the good of the fatherland. No doubt a lot of people around Trump think of him as Gropefaz, the deluded “greatest president of all time”. But this is no more heroic or effective than the German high command ever was in its delusions of controlling Hitler.

Honest leaders generate trust among their subordinates. Dishonest ones generate manipulative strategies. They appoint family members, because they know (or hope) family never will turn on them. Donald, Jr. provides more direct evidence of the degree of distrust in Trump’s White House. He complains that Trump trusts only a small, shrinking circle. That is characteristic of dishonest leaders.

One in three Americans support Trump, either despite his lies, or worse, because of them. That propaganda technique works. Collaboration will tar the Republican Party and the Trumpistas long after Trump is gone. This is a test of character, not just of politics. You don’t get to support Trump, and also pretend that you have any concern with integrity or civility. Your behavior now will follow you. Do read all of Fintan’s editorial.

The monster is from one of the young protaganist’s fantasies in Pan’s Labyrinth.

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