Editor’s Note: The longer Trump remains in office, the harder it is to believe in American Exceptionalism. We have a game show host in the Oval Office ... try to digest that. One other thing to keep in mind — nothing comes with a guarantee of permanence. There was a time when the British Empire seemed to be everlasting, and where is that Empire today?

From the Penthouse to the Outhouse


The president must have felt compelled to generate some controversy between the release of his biography, “Fire and Fury,” and the GOP Congress’ first government shutdown, so he called many of the Third-World nations we’ll need help from in the war on terror “s***holes.”

This engendered a now-familiar Republican routine. Arkansas senator Tom “Toady” Cotton denied Trump said it, then “Honest” Sarah Sanders accused a hostile press of twisting his pithy comments. Next, Paul Ryan — whose picture appears in Webster’s three times (next to “amoral,” “shameless” and “spineless”) — minimized his words by calling them “unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, other deplorables tried to distract the sheep by debating whether he’d said “s***holes” or “s***houses” — a distinction without a difference that even the state-run, GOP TV network, Fox News (aka Pravda), struggled to make relevant. Finally, the Right ended up praising his candor, because, as has now become painfully obvious, Trump’s base doesn’t support him despite his hateful bigotry, but because of it.

(Family newspapers should show more taste than conservative politicians, so, from here on, we’ll use the word “outhouse” to describe the kinds of places our articulate president disapproves of.)  

Trump’s opinion of the outhouse countries is no secret — Haitians “all have AIDS,” Mexicans are “rapist and murderers,” and “Nigerians all live in huts” — but he’s made it clear he’s okay with immigrants from Norway. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s testimony before the Senate, in which she pretended to be unaware Norwegians are largely white, muddied Trump’s message; however, it still scored points with adoring white supremacists and neo-Nazis, whom he’s referred to as “some good people.”

In contrast, the Norwegians haven’t been terribly impressed with our leader. Polling organization Ipsos revealed 71% of Norwegians consider Trump a “real threat to world peace.” In contrast, only 60% view his idol, Vladimir Putin, as a threat. (Of the 753,060 green card holders who became U.S. citizens in 2016, only 93 were Norwegians, so not many are immigrating here anyway.)  


And why would they? With high incomes and long life expectancy, Norway is No. 1 on the U.N.’s Human Development Index (the U.S. is 10th). Norwegians are also No. 1 in the U.N.’s World Happiness Report, while the U.S. has slipped to 14th. At the same time, we’ve fallen to No. 8 in the U.S. News Best Countries survey. And, the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy, states Trump’s move “away from global leadership” (and China’s ability to “fill the vacuum”) has made him the world’s most unpopular leader.

Liberal, secular progressives from Western European would be uncomfortable in our right-wing, Christian-fundamentalist culture, and would not be the kind of citizens Trump Republicans would welcome. Accustomed to free education and healthcare, and benefits that make them happy socialists, Norwegians would be unlikely to vote for an incipient conservative theocracy in which the rich get richer and the working class founders. (Turnout in Norway’s elections, which are 74% government-funded, is 81%, versus 48% here [120th in the world], where corporations and the ultra-wealthy fund 80%.)

In the private sector, U.S. finances would be called bankruptcy. Already $21 trillion dollars in debt, Congress is widening the gap between rich and poor with tax cuts that add $1.5 trillion in new debt. At this rate, the national debt is projected to be $30 trillion by 2024. This would seem irresponsible in fiscally conservative Nordic countries, which raise revenue to pay for things they want, such as education and medical care, rather than borrowing to further enrich the rich. (Sensible Americans might want to consider retiring to financially responsible countries, e.g., Norway, Canada or Denmark, rather than Trump’s America, which is fast-becoming this continent’s answer to Greece.)  

We have the largest military budget in the world, by far; however, with our deficit, every penny of it is borrowed and appended to the cumulative debt. We like to call this “American exceptionalism.” The Second Amendment also makes us exceptional, protecting our ability to kill each other so efficiently that our murder rate both leads and appalls the rest of the developed world. In contrast, Scandinavians consider having their children come home from school alive to be more important than their right to own assault weapons.

Our country is the only major industrialized nation without universal healthcare or paid maternity leave. We spend more per capita than any other country on earth on healthcare, yet, we’ve ranked as low as 39th in infant mortality, 42nd in adult male mortality and 36th in life expectancy. In recent years, Japan has ranked third in life expectancy, despite spending only 8.5% of its GDP on healthcare, compared with the U.S.’s 18%.  


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded by veterans of the Manhattan Project, has moved its symbolic Doomsday Clock forward by 30 seconds. At two minutes to midnight, this is its worst position since 1953. The group cited the election of Trump, and his opposition to dealing with the two most dangerous crises facing the world: nuclear war and climate change. According to theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, Trump has “promised to impede progress on both of those fronts.”

The U.S. once led the campaign to reverse global warming; now we’re the only nation to have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, despite overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. Trump’s EPA head opposes environmentalism, and we now do things like putting tariffs on solar panels to impede renewable energy initiatives, while encouraging the burning of coal, the filthy fuel of the 19th century.

Veterinarians have begun treating bald eagles for lead poisoning. To grovel to the NRA (and annoy the environmentalists), Trump’s Department of the Interior reversed an Obama-era regulation banning lead ammunition in wildlife refuges. Bald eagles are scavengers, so the carrion in their food supply is becoming increasingly toxic. It’s a too-obvious metaphor for where the GOP has taken our country.

Our penthouse president is moving us toward the outhouse, and the time may come when we won’t need to worry about the sorts of immigrants we attract. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make America the kind of country to which Norwegians might want to come.

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