Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day

Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 8, 2017>/b>
Recently I expressed puzzlement at the continuing level of support for Trump. An article by Frank Rich in New York Magazine[33] puts the subject in context by referring to the Watergate scandal. As the news grew worse for Richard Nixon, his approval rating fell steadily until, according to Gallup, it reached the mid-twenties near the end of 1973. It then remained essentially flat until the end. As Rich puts it, "at least a quarter of the American populace had no problem telling pollsters that they were still behind a president who had lied repeatedly and engaged in unambiguously criminal conspiracies. They still saw Nixon as ‘one of us,’ as he billed himself on posters in his first House run in 1946, and as a fighter who took on ‘them’ — essentially the same elites that Trump inveighs against today." Even as he resigned, Nixon had the approval of 24%.
That doesn’t make Trump’s level of support any less mysterious, in the sense of wonder at how so many people could continue to support someone so dishonest and inept, but it does demonstrate that such a reaction is not unprecedented. Rich goes a step further: it to be expected. His core supporters "will no more abandon Trump than their parents and grandparents did Nixon. If anything, Trump’s ascent has once more confirmed that this constituency is a permanent factor in the American political equation."
Another indication that Trump’s support is nothing unusual is that its present level matches the lowest popular vote for Republican presidential candidates in this century. Alf Landon drew 36.5% against Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Goldwater 38.5% against Johnson in 1964, and Bush the Elder 37.5% against Clinton in 1992. (Technically, 1912 was even worse, Taft drawing only 23.2% against Wilson, but Theodore Roosevelt, also a Republican but not on the ticket that year, drew 27.4%).[34]  Trump’s approval rating in the Gallup tracking poll has ranged between 36% and 42%, since June 1, an average of 37.9%.[35]
Trump resembles Nixon in being unstable, resentful of media coverage, and prone to self-destructive comments. Nixon was a smart, tough, experienced politician who understood issues and did some good, but went too far in trying to destroy enemies; his comments were intended to be private, but were revealed when his taping system was disclosed. Trump isn’t bright, is basically weak, has no political experience or knowledge about government, seems to have neither the interest nor the attention span to required to perform his duties, and makes his inane, damaging comments intentionally. Nixon was active, aggressive and driven. Trump is detached, reactive, and uninterested in anything but himself. Take away the bluster, and there is little left.
Many of the policies he has advanced, supported or permitted work against the welfare of the people who cheer for him at rallies. At some point, that will sink in, at least for some, and Trump has a small margin of safety: Nixon had an approval rating of about 60% during his first year in office;[36] Trump only can dream of that.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 2, 2017
The phrase "Can Nixon Survive Dean?" came to mind in the days leading up to the testimony of James Comey. (I remembered only that it had been on the cover of a magazine; it was, I discovered, on the Time cover of June 9, 1973). The testimony of James Comey had the potential for the same sort of confrontation. Would Comey be as devastating a witness against Trump as John Dean had been against Richard Nixon? My guess was no, and so it turned out, or at least it has had little effect so far.
Dean said that he has a sense that Nixon was recording conversations. That led, during the testimony of Alexander Butterfield, to the disclosure of Nixon’s taping system, which led in turn to his downfall. Here we have Trump hinting that he taped conversations with Comey and the latter saying that he hopes so. There have been demands that Trump turn over the tapes, but probably there aren’t any, although his subsequent seeming retraction left room to find some when convenient: "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings." More likely, he was just giving himself an excuse for his original threat.

His offer to testify under oath displayed the same pattern of bluster, followed by face-saving; his press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed that Trump meant only that he might testify to Mueller under oath, not to Congress, although Trump did not so state and the context of his promise was Comey’s testimony to a Congressional committee.

The appropriate question this time around may well be: "Can Trump survive Trump?"  His constant flow of tweets reveals, among other worrisome characteristics, an insecurity so overwhelming that he is incapable of dealing with criticism. He doesn’t stop at labeling the media enemies of the people, but lashes out at specific members of that disloyal profession.
Morning Joe, on MSNBC, at times said nice things about Trump. Like many others, its hosts became more critical, and Trump retaliated in his customary style and medium, having so much to say that it spread over two tweets: "I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came . . . to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!" Apart from what it reveals about Trump’s character, that is a self-destructive response. At some point, even the faithful may realize that this man-child shouldn’t be in a position of power.
He wasn’t through; the network is evil also: "Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" Some Republicans are beginning to take notice; here are reactions to the first outburst. Senator Lindsey Graham: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America." Sen. Ben Sasse:"Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office." Sen. Lisa Murkowski: "Stop it! The Presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down." Sen. Susan Collins: "This has to stop . . . We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."[31]
The White House is circling the wagons. Associate press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered this slightly garbled defense of her boss: "The president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts by members on that program, and I think he's been very clear that when he gets attacked, he's going to hit back." In case anyone had missed the point, that critics had better be careful, she added: "I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart, and who's a fighter, and that's Donald Trump. And I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire."
It takes an extreme case of loyalty to describe Trump as smart, and poor judgment to excuse his every instance of outrageous behavior. If Trump’s staff want him to survive, they should abandon sycophancy and offer a few fire-me-if you-want lessons on how grown-ups with important jobs behave. It isn’t likely to happen or to be effective if it did. That’s probably all to the good; if his staff and Fox continue to protect him and to justify his immature, vindictive behavior, even Republicans may decide that this has gone on long enough.
31. The reactions are recorded at lawmakers-react-trump-tweet-joe-scarborough-mika-brzezinski-morning-joe/index.html.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 2017
I must be naïve. After decades of observing American politics, it still amazes me that many of those elected by the people to do the people’s business go to such lengths to harm them. The Senate "health care" bill, following a similar effort by the House, was designed to do just that. It was, however, not bad enough for some.
One of those is Ron Johnson, whose election in 2010 and re-election last year add to the puzzlement over what has happened to Wisconsin. During the 2010 campaign, George Will, in an approving column, quoted Johnson’s philosophy: "First of all, freedom." Like many conservatives, freedom to Johnson means property and the right to keep it, especially the right to avoid having it taxed: "The most basic right is the right to keep your property." Once that was possible: "For a brief moment" (when, under Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent), "we were 72 percent free."
Senator Johnson wrote a column for The New York Times on June 26 setting forth his views on the ACA (Obamacare), which levied some taxes, and the Senate’s proposal to terminate its evil effects. His argument consisted of a string of conservative clichés, along with some inconsistencies.
"Washington believes that the solution to every problem is more money." Apparently he is, after six years, not part of Washington, which consists only of irresponsible liberals. Do conservatives not throw money at the Pentagon? Never mind.
"Like Obamacare, [the Senate bill] relies too heavily on government spending, and ignores the role that the private sector can and should play." Ah, yes, the private sector, in which no waste occurs, and every action results in the public good.
"[P]ursuing continuous improvement and root-cause analysis are core ideas in private-sector problem-solving. From what I’ve seen in six years in office, these concepts are foreign to government." This is nonsense; the core concept, the principle aim, of private business is making a profit. Medicare, not burdened with shareholders, overpaid executives or lobbyists, applies a far greater percentage of its revenue to patient care than do insurance companies.
The health care system has "virtually eliminated the power of consumer-driven, free-market discipline from one-sixth of our economy." How, pray, would that discipline work out in health care? Does he think that patients will be inclined, or able, to shop for care, comparing fees (if disclosed) between providers? Would insurance companies, with their network model, even allow that? The Senator really can’t make up his mind as to the system he wants. He complains that our health care system results in "separating patients from direct payment for health care," but contemplates reliance on private insurance, which largely accomplishes that separation.
Apparently, though, I’m making this too complex: "[A] simple solution is obvious. Loosen up regulations and mandates, so that Americans can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford." The Senate Republican bill, to Senator Johnson isn’t drastic enough: it "turns its back on this simple solution and goes with something far too familiar: throwing money at the problem."
These are not unique beliefs, nor are they new for Johnson. When he decided in 2010 to run for the Senate, he claimed: "The Health Care Bill is the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime. It will do great harm to the finest health care system in the world."[30]  Our health care system is more accurately described as an embarrassment, a term used in one review of international results. Every study in recent years has shown that we spend more for poorer results than other developed countries. The ACA has reduced the number of uninsured, but our system is far from the finest, measured before or after that law’s enactment.
Would the Senator’s solution, removing government help, make health insurance affordable for all? Hardly, and that isn’t his aim. The result would be, he says, that people "can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford." For many people, what they can afford won’t be much, if anything, and therefore won’t suit their needs.
His philosophy is aptly summarized in an article in The Nation: "The [Senate] bill makes an equivalence between affording care and deserving care." In other words, according to the foes of government, everyone deserves the level of care he can afford, and no more: health care is a privilege, not a right.


30. r=0

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 22, 2017

A number of reports have noted that Trump’s approval ratings are unusually low, especially for a point so early in a term. The mystery to me is why they are so high, considering his obvious incompetence. The Gallup tracking poll, asking how Trump is handling his job as President, has showed an approval rating of as much as 45, holding steady in the high thirties since late May. His disapproval rating has been above 50 almost from the start, but there is no evidence of impending desertion, and continuing support from more than a third.
When asked by Gallup, between June 7 and 11, about Trump’s handling of specific issues, responses were as follows:
The economy45532
Foreign affairs35623
Health care policy28675
Relations with Russia30665
The environment32635
Federal budget36576
Relations with news media34642
That produces a comparable result, an average of 36.1.[29] He dropped below one-third approval on issues which have received the most attention, which is some reason for hope.
 However, polls — even assuming that they accurately measure opinion — and votes are two very different things. Republicans have won the four special elections for the House held thus far, including the contest in Georgia which has drawn so much attention. Granted, these are Republican districts, but the results do not show abandonment of Trump. They may, however, demonstrate a movement away from him or from Republicans. All four districts were held by Republicans previously and all voted for Trump last year. Here are the GOP margins:

House, 2017House, 2016 Trump, 2016
South Carolina3.22019
In each case, there was a sharp drop off from the previous House election, and in three, a sharp drop from Trump’s margin. In Georgia, the Republican House candidate in this year’s election did better than Trump, but by a relatively small amount. Perhaps there is cause for optimism.
Whatever the message from those contests, Democrats need to do two things between now and November, 2018: decide on a message (and get it right), and work for greater turnout.
29. All poll results from


Monday, June 5, 2017

June 4, 2017

Are Donald Trump and his administration so bad that he should be removed from office? Yes.
An article in The New York Times on Tuesday asked "Can a Sitting President Be Indicted?" Even if there were grounds, the answer, probably, is no; impeachment is the appropriate remedy. Although the odds of impeachment of President Trump by this Congress are slight, it is necessary to begin making the case for removal now.
It is barely possible that Republicans in Congress will see the light on their own. The reputation of Republicans in Congress for clear thinking or serving the public interest is not impressive, and they think that Trump will useful to them in repealing the Affordable Care Act, cutting taxes on the rich and letting business do whatever it wants. However, they might be prodded to move if their constituents turn against Trump and, by extension, against them; if there are enough angry confrontations at town halls, ideology may give way to desire for re-election. Thus far, however, Trump’s supporters among the public haven’t deserted him despite his showing as clearly as possible that he’s a bad joke and the unlikelihood that he will look out for their interests.
Election of a Democratic Congress in 2018 would improve the odds of impeachment. There also is the possibility of removal under the Twenty-fifth Amendment, but that seems even less likely than impeachment. As a last resort, Trump could be rejected in 2020. Any of these happy outcomes depends on showing the country what Trump and his cohort are.

1. Trump’s personal failings.
He is undoubtedly one of the worst choices for the presidency ever, and the worst since Harding, who faced a less complicated, less dangerous world. Trump’s ignorance, foolishness, self-absorption and dishonestly damage America’s reputation abroad and impair its ability to positively influence events. They ensure that domestic policies will be a muddle, at best. His rudeness helped to turn the European part of his recent tour into a disaster. He blurted out, in Israel, that he hadn’t given away that Israel was the source of the intelligence he gave away to the Russians. (See 6.a. below).
His fragile ego has led him to exaggerate the size of the crowd at his inauguration, to concoct a story about illegal voting which denied him a majority, and now to appoint a commission to investigate "improper voter registrations and improper voting." The likely outcome will be vote suppression. A skin too thin for politics has led him to label the news media as enemies of the people, and to dismiss all negative reports as "fake news." Having something to hide would produce the same reaction. His refusal to release his tax returns supports that view.
His inane comments are not limited to oral statements, so the problem is not merely talking without thinking. Presumably there is no time pressure on his tweets, and they are just as foolish.
2. Conflicts of interest.
His tax proposal would lower the tax rate on "pass-through" income, such as that from partnerships or limited-liability companies. Trump reportedly receives income from 500 such organizations. It would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which affects him, among other high-earners. Eliminating the estate tax would benefit his heirs. The presence of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on his staff, both with extensive business interests, increases the scope of the conflict. His nepotism and conflicts of interest will taint any policy proposal.
3. Administrative incompetence.
Trump is so unaware and undisciplined that he conducted a national security conference with the Japanese premier, Michael Flynn and Stephen Bannon in a restaurant, in view and earshot of other diners. It was at his Mar-a-Lago resort, thereby also raising the conflict of interest issue. His constant flow of tweets, in addition to revealing his intellectual and emotional failings, create a risk of damage to the country by disclosure of sensitive information.
About 1,200 positions in the federal government require Senate confirmation. Of 559 "key positions," according to The Washington Post, nominees to 39 positions have been confirmed, 63 others have been nominated, 14 are "awaiting nomination," i.e., announced (floated?) but not actually submitted, and 443 positions have no nominee. [26] The positions for which there is no nominee include the following:
State Department: Under secretary for arms control and international security affairs; 41 Ambassadors, including those to Canada, France and Germany; and the Representative of the United States to the European Union.
Defense Department: Under secretary for intelligence; Secretary of the Army; Secretary of the Navy.
Justice Department: Assistant attorney general for the national security division; Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
National Intelligence Agency: Principal deputy director; Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
For an administration fixated on national security, these are odd lapses. No legislation of significance has been adopted, partly due to the regressive nature of the proposals, partly to administration clumsiness, partly to disarray in Congressional Republican ranks. The attempt to overturn the ACA was a fiasco, fortunately.
Despite Trump’s description of his administration as a well-oiled machine, it is dysfunctional. The communications director is gone and press secretary Sean Spicer seems to be in the dog house. The flow of leaks from the White House demonstrates a high level of discontent and confusion.
4. Reactionary policies.
His budget would be a joke if it weren’t a threat. It favors the very wealthy, already insulated from real life. It cuts Medicaid, Social Security disability coverage and food stamps. It cuts funding for the State Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, environmental protection and food safety and inspection. It wastes over a billion dollars on the border wall, a symbol of Trump’s fear of immigrants. It throws even more money at the military, even though we spend more on "defense" than the next eight countries combined.
The budget doesn’t even make sense on the surface. It assumes 3% annual growth, not seen since 2005. It cuts taxes by $2 trillion, assumes (contrary to any evidence) that growth triggered by those cuts will produce $2 trillion in tax receipts to cover that loss, and then counts the $2 trillion again as a revenue increase.
The budget and the health care proposals would reverse progress made toward a responsible federal health care law, something finally achieved in part after a century of trying. The United States does not rank high internationally in health care; becoming even more backward hardly is a way to make America great.
Trump has tried, twice, to restrict entry by residents of Muslim countries, only to be slapped down by the courts. Any argument that the bans were not religiously motivated is belied by Trump’s anti-Muslim speeches during the campaign. Trump fired the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, for instructing Justice Department lawyers not to defend the ban.
5. Diplomatic blunders
In Trump’s hands, we will be isolated, less powerful and potentially less secure. He has insulted allies — "The Germans are bad, very bad" because they sell cars in the U.S. — and praised dictators. He avoided promising to adhere to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that other NATO allies must come to the aid of a member country under attack, even though the only time it was invoked was following 9-11, and even though his evasion came as he was dedicating a memorial to the attacks of that day. He declined to endorse the Paris accords on climate change.
Those exercises in self-injuring stupidity have led Angela Merkel to announce that, lacking American support, Europe must look to its own resources. Another effect may be to push some European countries toward Russia or China. On Thursday, Trump confirmed his withdrawal from the Paris agreement, leaving us in a state of denial joined only by Nicaragua and Syria.
6. Legal issues.
a. Russia. As reported by The New York Times on May 23, "intelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russia directly interfered in the election." The FBI is, or was, pursuing that issue. Director Comey testified on March 20 that the FBI "is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed."[27] According to The Washington Post, following Comey’s testimony Trump "made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion . . . ." On May 9, Trump fired Comey, offering the laughable reason that he had mishandled the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
There is evidence that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey to impede the investigation into Russian ties to his transition team and administration. (Trump has admitted that he was thinking about the Russian issue when he fired Comey). If so, he may be guilty of obstruction of justice. This could be a rerun of Watergate, an attempted coverup becoming the trigger for impeachment. Trump’s hiring of outside counsel and the recent appointment of special prosecutor provide further echoes.
In January, Trump was warned by Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied to the vice president about his contacts with Russians during the transition. "To state the obvious," she told a Congressional committee, " You don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians." Despite the warning, Flynn hung around until February 13, eighteen days later
On May 10, Trump, in a meeting with the Russian Ambassador and Foreign Minister, disclosed intelligence information. Trump admitted that, on Twitter: "As President I wanted to share with Russia . . . which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety." Israel apparently was the source of the intelligence.
b. Business. Trump has many trademarks in China. He and daughter Ivanka have been awarded new ones recently; perhaps entirely by coincidence, that happened after Trump abandoned his challenge to China’s stance on Taiwan. Trump has business ties to numerous countries or their citizens; visitors from abroad curry favor by staying at Trump’s Washington hotel. All of this may implicate the Emoluments clause of the Constitution, which provides that "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."
An emolument, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, is "any advantage, profit, or gain received as a result of one’s employment or one’s holding of office." Whether Trump has violated the Clause is far from clear, but his foreign financial connections, and possible vulnerabilities, add another issue regarding his fitness to serve.
7. Impeachment.
If matters ever reach this point, any of the above may enter into the discussion. However, Trump needn’t be found guilty of a crime or even be indictable in order to be removed by impeachment. "The Framers . . . completely separated the impeachment-removal proceedings from a subsequent indictment and criminal trial. . . . History, in short, does not require indictability as the basis for impeachment."[28]
8. Harmful policies.
Several of these issues, such as self-serving tax cuts for the wealthy, opposition to environmental protection, cuts to the social safety net and possible collusion with Russia, have been mentioned above in other contexts. Their greatest significance, however, is not in their violation of some specific norm. They are harmful to the nation he purports to lead. That is the most direct and meaningful, if not the legally neatest, reason to remove him. He is dangerous to the welfare of the nation.


26. appointee-tracker/database/
27. Transcript of hearing, House Intelligence Committee, March 20, 2017.

28. Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 1973, p. 661.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29, 2017
Tax farming — tax collection by private individuals — is a system subject to abuse. A limited version of it — private collection of delinquent taxes — has been tried by the U.S. government, twice, with poor results. Nevertheless, and true to its privatization obsession, Congress tucked a clause into a highway bill which requires the IRS to "enter into qualified tax collection contracts to collect outstanding inactive tax receivables," i.e., to farm out tax collection to private collection agencies. The IRS has selected four companies to pursue those delinquent accounts.
One might think that increasing the IRS budget, allowing it to hire more agents, would be a better plan than giving 25% of collections to the debt collectors, especially as their record at collection during prior trials is unimpressive. Also, the new program opens up opportunities for fraud and abuse, both by the designated collectors and by others posing as such.
The IRS announced that it would begin using the debt collectors in April. One of the companies selected by the IRS is Pioneer Credit Recovery, a subsidiary of Navient Corporation. Two years ago, Pioneer was accused by the Education Department of misleading borrowers about their loans. In January of this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed suit against Navient, accusing it of "systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment," and cheating "many struggling borrowers out of their rights to lower repayments, which caused them to pay much more than they had to for their loans."[24]  The same month, the States of Washington and Illinois sued Navient; the Washington Complaint accused it of a number of unfair and deceptive practices, including "aggressive and misleading collection tactics."[25]
Privatization is a dubious idea in any area of government activity. Privatizing tax collections is worse. Selecting a company with a bad reputation, one other government agencies accuse of wrongdoing, is difficult to explain. Of the four companies approved, two are from New York, including Navient-Pioneer, and one is from Iowa. Senators Schumer (New York) and Grassley (Iowa) are supporters of private tax collection. Apparently their viewpoint allows them to see an advantage invisible to most of us.


Friday, April 21, 2017

April 20, 2017
As The Washington Post informed us late last year, "It's official: Truth is dead. Facts are passe." The basis of that cynical statement? "Oxford Dictionaries has selected ‘post-truth’ as 2016's international word of the year," because the Brexit referendum battle and the presidential election "caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press."[19]  Is selecting a word of the year important, or even meaningful? Recent words of the year are such additions to discourse as locavore, hypermiling and refudiate, the last made notorious by Sarah Palin. Oxford Dictionaries defines post-truth as an adjective "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,"[20] which is as awkward as the yearly word routine is meaningless; neither hypermiling nor refudiate have been added to the OED. On the other hand, the Dictionary has just added "sticky-outy."
Leaving aside whether dictionaries should describe rather than prescribe or, as Fox News puts it, report, not decide, the state of our political discourse, in which facts and truth are discarded, indeed is worthy of note. (In the Age of Trump, examples are not necessary; read any account of a press conference). What is the source of this intellectual decline?
One suggestion is that we should blame philosophy. On the cover of the April 3, 2017, issue, Time Magazine, apparently not yet convinced, asked "Is Truth Dead?" An article on Salon offered this comment: "Whether deliberate or not, the cover headline alludes to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who is best known for proclaiming the death of God, but also for rejecting the idea of objective truth (‘there are no facts, only interpretations’). For the philosophically inclined, then, our ‘post-truth’ era can be traced back to Nietzsche . . . ."[21]

A more recent reference also might support the theory. Richard Rorty observed that, under modern analytic philosophy, statements are "no longer thought of as expressions of experience nor as representations of extra-experiential reality." Truth "is simply a compliment paid to sentences seen to be paying their way." As long as the story sells, it can be called truth.
The intellectual fad known as postmodernism has helped to undermine respect for truth and fact; it includes "an excessive interest in subjective beliefs independently of their truth or falsity; and an emphasis on discourse and language as opposed to the facts to which those discourses refer (or, worse, the rejection of the very idea that facts exist or that one may refer to them)."[22]
Not many people keep abreast of trends in philosophy or literary criticism, so any influence must be by way of absorption into the culture. A different and less arcane source has been suggested, one which would have direct influence on many: conservative (usually called evangelical) Christianity. A recent article in The New York Times [23] observed that "two compulsions have guided conservative Protestant intellectual life: the impulse to defend the Bible as a reliable scientific authority and the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science entirely." The result is a view that any statement must be false if it contradicts or challenges biblical stories taken literally. Rejecting much of modern science, to which this leads, is an anti-factual stance with a vengeance.
For some, this is based on a theory burdened with the almost unpronounceable name "presuppositionalism," which reflects this idea: "We all have presuppositions that frame our understanding of the world." However, not all presuppositions are equal: "one worldview, the one based on faith in an inerrant Bible, does have a claim on universal truth."
The Times article referred to a biologist who also is a creationist; he "calls himself a ‘presuppositionalist evidentialist’ — which we might define as someone who accepts evidence when it happens to affirm his nonnegotiable presuppositions." Although accepting some parts of science might seem an advance, a scientist who rejects inconvenient science is even more defensively blinkered than the outright denier.
Whatever the source or terminology, denial of reality, dressing up lies as "alternative facts," and contempt for the very notion of truth pose a serious problem in a complex, rapidly changing, menacing world.




21. in-his-post-truth-politics-and-maybe-in-postmodern-philosophy/

Sokal and Bricmont, Intellectual Impostures

23. post-truth-society.html