As the US markets reopen and we prepare for another volatile week, here's the latest opus from our old friend, Jim Quinn.
No One Gets Out Of Here Alive
by, Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform
“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
As we wander through the fog of history in the making, unsure who is lying and who is telling the truth, seemingly blind to what comes next, I look to previous Fourth Turnings for a map of what might materialize during the 2nd half of this current Fourth Turning. After a tumultuous, harrowing inception to this Crisis in 2008/2009, we have been told all is well and are in the midst of an eleven-year economic expansion, with the stock market hitting all-time highs.
History seemed to stop and we’ve been treading water for over a decade. Outwardly, the establishment has convinced the masses, through propaganda and money printing, the world has returned to normal and the future is bright. I haven’t bought into this provable falsehood. Looking back to the Great Depression, we can get some perspective on our current position historically.
The Dow is up 450% since its 2009 low, which is the metric used by the establishment to prove their money printing solutions have succeeded in lifting the country from the depths of despair and depression. The narrative peddled to the plebs by the lords of the manor through their fake news media mouthpieces for the past decade is one of solid recovery, as the cancer of debt proliferates through the global intestines, thrusting the patient towards a terminal fate.
Looking back to the previous Fourth Turning it seems the Dow went up 450% from its 1932 low in just five years, making this bull market look like a calf. It seems the ruling class did quite well in the midst of the Great Depression, while the masses lined up in soup lines. History may not repeat, but it certainly seems to be rhyming during this Fourth Turning, as the Wall Street cabal have been enriched while senior citizens have been impoverished by the Federal Reserve ZIRP and QE to infinity. This is proof depressionary conditions can prevail for the majority even as the stock market skyrockets to new heights.
Trump consistently touts our economy as the best ever. Obama crowed about bringing the country out of the depths of recession. How many of today’s historically challenged iGadget addicted morons know GDP grew by 63% between 1933 and 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression? Meanwhile, GDP has only grown by 48% since the 2009 low, over a ten-year period. And this has only been achieved through a 100% increase in the national debt, a 450% increase in the Federal Reserve balance sheet, a decade of zero interest rates, and trillion-dollar annual deficits.
The blizzard of lies obfuscating the reality of our economic decline has been so persistent, critical thinking Americans have lost all trust in the existing social order. The fabric of our nation has been torn asunder through the machinations and criminality of the Deep State players and their apparatchiks disseminated throughout our political, financial, government and media structures.
I do contemplate what future historians (if our egomaniacal leaders don’t blow up the planet) will write about this profoundly abnormal period in world history. Rational sober minded people will wonder “what were they thinking?”. How did mass delusion sweep across the globe and convince hundreds of millions to believe debt equaled wealth and prosperity could be generated by central bankers printing money at hyper-speed. How could supposedly highly educated financial professionals convince themselves it was rational to pay $900 per share for a company losing hundreds of millions per year?
The irrational exuberance exhibited by the big swinging dicks on Wall Street during the dot.com bubble, the subprime mortgage induced bubble, and the current everything bubble has been encouraged and inspired by the reckless actions of the Federal Reserve and their fellow feckless central bank heroine dealers around the world. Their arrogance is only exceeded by their greed and myopia. Their grasp of history reaches to last Wednesday. No one is heeding the wisdom of great men. That’s why they will be blind-sided by the coming total catastrophe, once again.
“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises, Human Action 
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I spent countless hours during the Obama administration poking holes in the false narrative of the unemployment figures produced by the BLS and GDP numbers produced by the BEA. The Obama haters were completely onboard with my counter-factual arguments, backed up with rational arguments that these government drones were doing nothing more than peddling lies to keep the serfs in the dark.
Even Donald Trump openly scorned and ridiculed the fake data pumped out month after month. But it seems Donald now believes every economic data point his governmental agencies produce on a monthly basis. The recent jobs report was a perfect example. The mainstream media all blasted the same headline that 225,000 jobs were added in January, much higher than expected. This proved the economy is doing wonderfully, in their eyes.
It’s funny, but the Trump acolytes ignored the 520,000 downward revision of jobs created in the prior year, making his State of the Union boasts provably false. I’ve trashed the birth/death adjustments made by the BLS for years, but now Trump and his supporters ignore its falsity. The 225,000 increase in jobs came from the establishment survey. I heard no one point out the household survey showed the number of employed Americans fell by 89,000 in January and the number of unemployed jumped by 139,000. There are still almost 101,000 million working age Americans not working, the same number not working at this point in Obama’s presidency.
The overall employment situation has improved in the last three years, but Trump touting this as a blue-collar recovery is laughable. Real median weekly earnings for full-time workers is $362 ($18,824 annually), up a phenomenal 2.8% over the 3 years of Trump’s presidency. Real wages did fall 2.9% over the first three years of Obama’s presidency, but let’s not get carried away with less than 1% real wage growth per year under Trump. And remember, using a true inflation figure north of 5% would show real wages are actually in decline.
None of the current narrative fanboys pointed out only 1.93 million private industry jobs were created in 2019, the lowest level since 2010. Not exactly robust. And not consistent with the “greatest economy ever” narrative being promoted to the masses. The Fed reporting consumer debt soaring by $22 billion in December, with credit card debt growing by the most in over two decades (just prior to the dot.com debacle), is surely a sign of a healthy consumer. Right?
Consumer credit as a percentage of GDP reaching all-time highs as their real wages are stagnant isn’t a sign of middle-class desperation. Right? We also know 40% of American adults don’t have $400 of savings to cover an emergency expense, like a normal car repair or medical expense. It is clear to any critical thinking individual that credit card debt has risen to new all-time highs because the average family is treading water by paying utilities, rent, taxes, food and medical bills with their credit cards.
The foolishness of consumers, corporations, politicians and government bureaucrats is borne out in the chart below. The Federal Reserve created loose monetary policy, started under Greenspan in the 1980s, has convinced Wall Street titans the Fed will always have their back, bailing them out after they take excessive risks and push the financial system to the brink of collapse. The hubris of the ruling oligarchs, exhibited by issuing debt at hyper-speed to “solve” a crisis caused by excessive debt, knows no bounds.
Just the leveling off of debt in 2008/2009 threatened to bring the house of cards down. The issuance of another $17 trillion of debt, a 30% increase in ten years, has barely budged GDP. The fallacy that debt doesn’t matter because we owe it to ourselves has been proven false time and again. Consumers and corporations have to service their immense debt or go bankrupt. Interest on the national debt is already crowding out spending on real priorities like our infrastructure. Borrowing to pay interest on the debt is a pathway to destruction. An unsustainable trend will not be sustained. It’s just a matter of time.
So, who benefits from this hyperbolic increase in debt? Certainly not the average working stiff who has been propagandized into buying shit they don’t need with pretend money (debt) they don’t have, in order to keep up with the Joneses. As clearly demonstrated over the last decade, the beneficiaries of this stratospheric issuance of debt have been Wall Street shysters, mega-corporation executives, corrupt politicians, billionaire oligarchs, media titans, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State.
Why is it that Wall Street bankers were able to borrow for free from the Federal Reserve for a decade, while paying .15% to senior citizens and reaping billions in ill-gotten profits? As the Federal Reserve chairman lies that keeping interest rates low is to benefit the average American, why are interest rates on credit cards at an all-time high? I wonder who is benefitting from this interesting development. If the average American hasn’t figured out ZIRP, QE to infinity, and trillion-dollar deficits aren’t for their benefit, then they are just willfully ignorant or plain stupid.
After what has seemed an eternity with this Fourth Turning not appearing to intensify, the last few months, and particularly since the start of 2020, it seems like we are about to be flung forward into a coming storm of chaos, with no way to plan for the challenges awaiting. The ruling oligarchs recognized their attempt to try and normalize our economic system by slowly weaning it from ever expanding debt during 2019 was headed towards a cliff.
Their actions over the last six or so months reveal an air of desperation. The sudden reversal from methodically slow interest rate increases to three cuts in succession exposes the Fed as being trapped, with no way out. Normalization is impossible. Then the repo market began to implode, with overnight rates soaring to 10%. The ongoing hundreds of billions in funding provided by the Fed every day divulges the rot underlying the financial system, requiring never ending emergency measures to keep it alive.
“The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were inﬂicted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster.” ― Ludwig von Mises
The masses have been trained through decades in government gulags (aka public schools) to worship the state and propagandized through the corporate media to believe government and the politicians picked for us by men in backrooms are working on our behalf. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Deep State is inhabited by a myriad of corrupt, vile men who are the source of the mischief and disasters being inflicted on honest hard-working people across the land.
Central bankers and their Wall Street puppet masters have been making billions as they blow bubbles, then use their power and control over politicians to shift their losses to the ignorant masses when their bubbles burst. When it happens over and over again, it clearly isn’t due to mistakes or misunderstandings. The pillaging of your wealth, rigged markets, fraud, and buying off the regulatory system is now the standard operating procedure in our outlaw surveillance state.
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In Part Two of this article I will examine the earth moving events which have already happened in 2020 and ponder what will catalyze the rest of this year and the second half of this ongoing Fourth Turning.
In Part One of this article I exposed the numerous false narratives being peddled to the masses, as this Fourth Turning is entering the intense phase headed towards an unknown climax.
I’ve been expecting the next shoe to fall in this Fourth Turning for years, but the financial elite have pulled the debt levers to keep the Ponzi scheme alive far longer than a reasonable person would expect. We are only six weeks into 2020 and it seems like a year’s worth of major events have already occurred. The year started with the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.
For the next week the world was awash in rhetoric about World War III and possible revolution in Iran. Accusations of Trump using the Wag the Dog method to deflect the negative press from the impeachment hearings were rampant among the half of the country that despises Trump. Soleimani was lauded as a hero by the left and a terrorist by the right. Now, the entire episode seems like ancient history, as more interesting squirrels have arisen for the propaganda media to chase.
The entire month of January was occupied by the ongoing coup/impeachment against Donald Trump. Schiff, Nadler and Pelosi doing their best impression of the three stooges, conducted a laughable prosecution in the House, revealing this was nothing more than a desperate attempt to avoid losing to Trump in a November landslide. The predictable trial in the Senate resulted in an acquittal and Trump’s popularity soaring to all-time highs, as independents realized the Democrats misused the power of impeachment for purely political purposes. Trump’s SOTU address infuriated Pelosi to such an extent it provoked her into acting like a petulant child, tearing up the speech. Future campaign ads wrote themselves.
The DNC again has looked corrupt and incompetent with the disastrous Iowa caucus. The party is again trying to cheat Sanders out of the nomination by pushing the CIA hand selected empty suit – Buttigieg, a white gay Obama clone, mayor of a Podunk town in Indiana, who talks incessantly without saying anything. The Democrats, who want to run your healthcare and have government take control over our lives, lost credibility in the eyes of millions by their inability to even count a few thousand votes in Iowa.
The left-wing pundits on MSNBC and CNN are exasperated with the populist admiration by millennials of Bernie Sanders, an unapologetic socialist. Alzheimer Joe Biden’s candidacy is imploding and Pocahontas Warren is sending desperate smoke signals for her tribe to come to the rescue. The Democratic party is a train wreck in progress.
The left-wing fake news outlets were shrill in the lead up to the 2nd Amendment rights rally in Richmond to protest Governor “Blackface” Northam’s blatant attempt to pass laws which would result in the attempted confiscation of legally owned firearms of citizens of Virginia. Talk of civil war swirled across social media. Northam called out the National Guard. Antifa terrorists threatened to storm the protest.
The displeasure among the left-wing pundits on MSNBC and CNN that thousands of legally armed citizens gathered peacefully to support their Constitutional rights without one incidence of violence was palpable. The left wingers were praying for another Charlottesville, where they could peddle more fake news about Nazis and white supremacists being Trump’s main supporters. Not only did the Richmond protestors act civilly, they actually cleaned up after themselves. Total fail for the liberal elite.
After years of fear mongering by the establishment about Brexit, the UK left the EU on January 31 with absolutely no negative consequences. A blizzard of lies falls from the sky, manufactured by those in power, in order to maintain their power, control and immense wealth. The economic catastrophe Brexit was supposed to create was used by the government apparatchiks to flog and terrify the citizens of the UK. This is par for the course.
The Deep State functions under a cloud of lies, misinformation and false narratives, capitalizing upon the gullibility, willful ignorance and folly of the masses. As this decade has gotten underway, it seems the lies are flowing in greater volume, and the fear mongering by governments, central bankers and the corporate media has reached unprecedented levels.
As if these myriad of events over the course of a few weeks weren’t enough to keep the world on edge, a potential Black Swan of immense proportions has arisen in China, threatening to initiate a worldwide pandemic. After ten years of expecting something to be the catalyst for the next leg down in this Fourth Turning, I’ve remained skeptical of every new doom and gloom event that comes along, as all previous threats have been neutralized through monetary or political means. But a pertinent quote near the end of Strauss and Howe’s prophecy, certainly seems to apply at this moment in history.
“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
I would say we are already experiencing terrorist anarchy in the Middle East and a virtual high-tech dictatorship through the partnership between the Deep State and the titans of Silicon Valley to surveil everything we say, email, tweet or think. Snowden and Assange have revealed the truth about our military industrial surveillance state, but the masses are too distracted by their iGadgets, Twitter likes, and Facebook fans to notice they live in a technological prison, with the Deep State prison guards ready to stomp on their faces with a boot, forever.
The nuclear exchange is more likely towards the end of this Fourth Turning, if it occurs at all. Mutually assured destruction has deterred countries from utilizing nuclear weapons for the past 70 years, but that doesn’t assure it won’t happen in the next ten years once this Fourth Turning plunges towards its bloody climax.
So that leaves us with incurable plagues. I have to admit this wasn’t on my radar. I’ve been focused on Trump (the Grey Champion), the ongoing Deep State coup against him, potential world conflict originating in the Middle East, and the unending issuance of unpayable debt by the Fed and other central banks to keep this pillaging Ponzi scheme going until the oligarchs have absconded with every dollar of wealth on the planet.
But, seemingly out of nowhere, the Chinese coronavirus has dominated the headlines for the last few weeks as it spreads around the globe, far surpassing the number of cases and deaths caused by SARS in 2003. The number of cases, reported by governmental authorities, is closing in on 70,000, while the number of deaths exceeds 1,600. And these numbers are expanding exponentially by the day.
Because of the virus’s contagiousness, high mortality rate, and resistance to treatment, it has prompted extensive Chinese government action including mandatory quarantines, military forcing people into hospitals/internment camps, and propaganda campaigns to misinform the Chinese public and the international community. Internationally, other countries have sought to limit travel to and from China and implemented extensive screening measures to detect those potentially carrying the virus.
Air travel, to and from China, has been reduced to nothing. The tens of thousands of factories producing the shit Americans don’t need, but must have, sit vacant, as fear and sickness keep workers/slaves trapped in their tiny hovels. The global impact of this shutdown can’t be ignored, as China accounts for 13% of global exports, 5 times as much as during the SARS crisis in 2003.
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My default belief is everyone is lying to me. My government, foreign governments, the mainstream media, every politician, every central banker, every religious man, every corporate executive, all investment “experts”, and most of the people on the internet are lying. Trying to decipher who is telling the truth is harder than finding an honest politician, a central banker who dislikes debt, or a Wall Street analyst with a sell recommendation. What I do know for sure is the Chinese government and media are lying.
There is no benefit for them to overestimate the impact of the coronavirus, but downplaying its devastation, deaths, transmit-ability and transmutability are what an overbearing dictatorship does automatically. So, we already know it is worse than the mainstream media outlets are reporting. They incessantly flog the comparison to the annual flu and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by the basic flu each year. This is a pathetic attempt to keep the masses deluded and ignorant. These propaganda campaigns have worked in the past and continue to work on a willfully ignorant people.
On the other side of the fence, we have bloggers, Harvard know-it-alls, alt-media journalists, purveyors of doom who produce articles and posts every day predicting a global pandemic with billions impacted and hundreds of millions of deaths. The fact is doom sells. Most blogs generate advertising revenue based upon visitor counts. Youtubers generate income based upon views. Many of the articles on ZeroHedge about the coronavirus have been viewed between 200,000 and 500,000 times. That is ten to twenty-five times an average article.
Chris Martenson’s daily Youtubes on the coronavirus crisis are getting 250,000 to 300,000 views, versus 25,000 for his regular videos. Doom does sell. Regardless, I have the utmost respect for Chris’ intellect and honesty. He also has a PhD from Duke, with a specialization in neurotoxicology, so his opinion is more valuable than some CNBC stock jockey or a shill like Larry Kudlow.
I’m not a medical expert or an investing expert, but there are sites and bloggers I trust who I believe seek the truth to the best of their ability. When Chris Martenson, Mike Shedlock, Mike Kreiger, and the guys running Zero Hedge are all deeply concerned about the extent of this coronavirus outbreak, I take notice.
When honest financial analysts like Sven Henrich, Jesse, John Hussman, David Stockman, David Rosenberg and Harald Malmgren point out the absurdity, manipulation and extreme overvaluation of our markets, I take heed. Either the coronavirus or ridiculously overbought financial markets could be the sole catalyst for the coming collapse, but when merged into a toxic brew of pathology, ambiguity and fear, they could make 2020 a year to remember in the history of the planet.
Even if the current crisis gets no worse, the global economic impact will be severe, as the worldwide economy was already on the verge of contraction. The reaction of stock markets to the coronavirus epidemic proves they are rigged and being purposefully pumped by the Federal Reserve. When you see Tesla’s market value of $146 billion standing 40% higher than the combined market value of Ford, GM and Chrysler, you realize the Fed has blown the biggest bubble in history. Rational fact-based thinkers realize we are experiencing mass insanity where abnormal behavior is glorified as normal. These episodes of madness and delusion never end well.
“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
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“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” – Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Day after day, as the lying Chinese government spins that everything is under control, while brave individuals use social media to prove it isn’t under control, the Federal Reserve continues to say everything is under control, while pumping liquidity into the system as if an emergency crisis situation exists, because it does.
The day after day adrenaline induced new highs in the stock market are a sign of desperation by those in power, attempting to convince the public all is well, while beneath the surface a cancerous rot is eating away at the entrails of this dying patient. If markets weren’t being rigged, they would be discounting the immense economic damage being done to global economies and the massive negative impact on corporate profits. Instead they are propelled to new highs by the Federal Reserve on behalf of their Wall Street owners.
We still have ten and a half months left in this crossroads year of discontent. One way or another, a chain reaction of events will accelerate the permanent tearing of the civic fabric of this country along extreme areas of vulnerability, wantonly ignored or purposefully neglected for decades. Will this coronavirus be the spark that ignites the debt powder-keg sitting atop this world of excess, abnormality, denial and delusions?
Or will it be the re-election of Trump, with the non-acceptance by half the country? Or will Bloomberg buy the presidency after the DNC screws over Bernie again, instigating civil chaos. Will the Deep State pop this stock bubble in the months before the election in a final attempt to derail Trump? Can the oligarchs continue to retain control through further injections of liquidity and more propaganda, or is that well running dry? Even dullards are starting to lose faith in the authorities, so a descent into chaos seems imminent.
I truly don’t know what will transpire during the remainder of 2020 and going forward into 2021, but with our “just in time” global supply chain paralyzed by pathogens, paranoia, and panic, the global economy is going to be impacted severely. Americans are going to realize how dependent we are on China for our cheap shit. This impact will be felt around the globe, even if it doesn’t turn into a global pandemic. If it does, a global depression would be in the offing.
Even Powell and his electronic printing press couldn’t liquidify our way out of that scenario. With debt at already unsustainable levels, a wave of defaults and bankruptcies would engulf the earth, as financial trust would implode. With global stock markets at the most overvalued point in history, margin debt at all-time highs, no money on the sidelines, and risk-taking behavior at extreme greed levels, the plunge in markets will make 2000 and 2008 look like a walk in the park. A 50% to 60% plummet is a certainty. This mountain of debt will come tumbling down.
I don’t think daily tweets from Trump about an imminent vaccine will help the stock market like his imminent trade deal tweets worked during 2019. This virus doesn’t care about central bank liquidity or fake news propaganda. It’s a killer. Whether it developed organically, or in some bio-lab, it is loose and it is lethal. Its impact is already reaching far outside China and it has the potential to heavily impact the U.S. presidential election.
A market crash before the November election could lead to a narrow victory by a Sanders or Bloomberg, as an angry populace blames Trump, who has taken full credit for this market bubble. The election of either would just ratchet up the vitriol and dissent roiling across the land. Discontent among the masses would spread around the world, leading politicians to try to distract their people with foreign enemies threatening their freedom. This is when the global war scenario of this Fourth Turning has the highest likelihood of commencing.
We’ve been in the eye of this Fourth Turning hurricane longer than I expected. The deeply ingrained Deep State conspirators have proven more powerful, deceitful, and deranged than I believed. They will not give way without a fight to the death. The threat of them winning is all too real. Their blatant disregard for the Constitution, rule of law and simple decency towards fellow citizens, makes it imperative for courageous, rational, honest, truth seeking Americans to make a stand for the soul of the country.
We have gone through three Fourth Turnings during our nation’s short history. Every Crisis has produced moments of extreme danger, where the future of our nation hung in the balance. Without the benefit of historical context, we are presently living within another moment of severe peril where the consequences of our future actions will decide our fate as a nation.
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“The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
We are only on this earth for one saeculum of eighty or so years, if we are lucky. None of us will get out of here alive. As a father of three young men, my sole purpose in life has been to try and leave them a better world than was left to me by my parents. The individual actions taken by millions of Americans and billions around the globe determines the future course of our countries and the lives future generations will be able to live. We each can do our part to live lives worthy of praise, leading by example, teaching our children the right way to treat others, and managing our small plot on this planet. Fourth Turnings separate the wheat from the chaff.
As we navigate through the storms ahead much will depend upon the bravery, heroism and inspiration provided by a few good men and women, and the fortitude of the many to withstand the brutal tests ahead. The configuration of generations is set. We will either destroy a nation built upon a once noble dream by succumbing to the poison of greed, war and debt peddled by those opposing truth and honor, or we will go down in history as mythlike figures who slew the Goliath of the Deep State. Difficult choices lie ahead. Time to prepare.
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“History’s howling storms can bring out the worst and best in people. The next Fourth Turning can literally destroy us as a nation and people, leaving us cursed in histories of those who endure and remember. Alternatively, it can ennoble our lives, elevate us as a community, and inspire acts of consummate heroism–deeds that will grow into mythlike legends recited by our heirs far into the future.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
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