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A 2017 State of the Union!

A 2017 State of the Union!

June 28th, 2017 // 7:47 pm @

Where are We Right Now as a Nation, and Where are We Going?

The Not-Quite-New Normal

This is the way we govern now: The White House is the prize. Majorities in Congress are the way to get closer to the prize. And the ultimate goal is to control the Supreme Court, because it now has almost ultimate power on whatever issue it engages.

This is the way we govern now. To win these prizes, the party out of power goes on the offensive. Its mantra is attack, attack, attack. Look at the last 8 years: the party out of the White House (Republicans) attacked the party in the White House (Democrats) with whatever scandal it could. Benghazi. Clinton emails. IRS targeting. Obamacare. Fast and Furious. Loretta Lynch on the tarmac. Obstruction of every White House project they thought they could slow down. Calling ISIS “the JV team.” Debts and deficits. Some of these needed to be openly and loudly addressed, yes. But this is the way we govern now.

This eventually brought Republican majorities in the House. Then the Senate. Finally, the White House. The same happened in the 8 years before that, from 2000 to 2008, only at that point the roles were reversed. Democrats attacked Republicans, especially those in the White House, with everything they could muster. Hanging chads. No WMDs. The outing of Valerie Plame. The Great Recession. The rise of fuel prices from a little over $1 per gallon to about 4 times that. False allegations that President Bush repeatedly skipped out on required military service. Carl Rove and Scooter Libby in a Special Prosecutor gone wild. More debt, big deficits, using the Justice Department to investigate political rivals of the White House. Again, some of these needed to be opposed, but this has become the center-point of our governance.

The eight years prior to that followed the same pattern, with the party roles once again reversed. Republicans attacked the Democrats with allegations of Lewinsky-gate and abusive behavior toward Paula Jones and other women by President Clinton, Impeachment by the House of Representatives for Perjury, China-gate, White House handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge standoffs, Hillary’s proposed Health Care plan. In the decades before that it was Iran-Contra, “Read My Lips,” etc.

This is how we govern now. It’s not only the perpetual campaign, where even between elections both parties are fully engaged in tearing each other down, it’s also a high-stakes game of thrones where both sides are out for blood—and the losers are the American people. In short, as mentioned, this is how we govern now. And it’s not good for our nation.

Who, What, and Why

In fairness, a free media and open debate that keeps the government under constant scrutiny is necessary and helpful. It is a serious check on anyone in power. Where the American Framers put most of the checks in the hands of competing branches of government, modern technology has significantly increased the power of non-governmental actors such as media, academia, big business, and online providers, among others. When this increases the power and wisdom of the electorate, the changes are positive. But too often the reality is manipulative spin and constant attempts by media to sway the citizens rather than inform them, to guide and convince voters rather than just objectively tell them the facts.

Indeed, a great negative occurs where the electorate is dependent on powerful institutions for its knowledge of the facts and issues we face as a nation—or swayed by the tone in which elites attempt to skew the public’s view of world events. The power of such institutions to prejudice people has only increased with each passing decade and year, and while this has sparked increased media savvy among some people, it has also created a mob mentality, even groupthink, for many others.

One of the reasons many in the media—both Left and Right—loudly decry President Trump’s habit of tweeting is that this cuts such media personalities out of the picture. When top leaders speak directly to the citizens, the media model of the past three hundred years is turned on its head. If this ever works effectively on the large scale, many media professionals will need to find new employment.

But let’s be clear. Accuracy in the news hit a two-decade low in 2009, according to the Pew Research Center (September 13, 2009). Then it hit another low by 2012 (August 16, 2012). In 2016 and 2017, many citizens feel that accuracy is hard to find in any media. In fact, a number of people consider British media outlets more factual about U.S. news than American media organizations that seem increasingly biased. When asked what news is most accurate, the public is split along party lines.

As for the ability of the media to accurately predict elections, it has become clear in the last 5 national-level elections (in 2016 and 2017) that the mainstream media and polling models have it all wrong. They keep predicting the opposite of what actually occurs. The biggest problem in media is that an increasing number of people simply don’t trust it anymore. They want the media to be unbiased, objective, and share “just the facts,” but this isn’t what they experience when they read the daily paper or turn on the nightly news. Gallup reports that popular trust in the media is at an all-time low (wjla.com/news, June 18, 2017).

Important Questions

The solution, of course, is for the regular citizens to step up their game. As former CIA officer Bryan Dean Wright shared (Fox, June 20, 2017), intelligence officers vet their news by looking at “five different kinds of questions.” Citizens today need to do the same. For example, whenever we hear or read a news report, we need to ask ourselves:

  1. Who is the person sharing the news? Does he really know what he’s talking about? [If the source of news is “anonymous,” give it very little credence.]
  2. Is the person sharing the news actually in a position to have access to the original details? Or is he just repeating something he heard or read? [If he’s not the original source, be skeptical.]
  3. What is the motivation of the person/institution reporting the news? Liberal? Conservative? Independent? Objective? What is the reporter’s goal? [In the case of the mainstream media, the goal is often to get better ratings and seek promotions from elite powerbrokers, or even to directly sway people to a different political viewpoint.]
  4. What bias does the reporter/institution have? [If you don’t know, you can’t possibly trust what he says until you find out why he’s saying it.]
  5. Does anyone corroborate the story? Who? Are both sources trustworthy? [Journalists used to print nothing until they had at least two separate named sources confirming the same thing. Now media outlets frequently go to print or air without even one named source. Many such reports have turned out to be entirely false.]

It’s not that journalism schools have stopped teaching the principles and rules of good journalism, but rather that many newspapers and electronic news organizations simply ignore the rules and steam ahead—as long as they feel they can promote their pre-planned agenda. Buyer beware. Or, in this case, consumers of media beware. We’re frequently being lied to.

Indeed, much of modern media seems to approach journalism like the villainous media magnate Magnussen in Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent rendition of Sherlock Holmes. When pressed on accuracy, he says: “Facts are for history books. I work in news.”

Facts vs. News

There is a lot of wisdom in this short statement. It is one of the genuine mantras of life in the 21st Century, and it bears repeating:

“Facts are for history books. I work in news.”

The news in our time has largely become reality television—scripted, planned, twisted to support a pre-determined narrative and agenda. The only antidote is a citizenry that sees through it and responds accordingly.

This is the way we govern now. This is where we are, and where we’re headed—at least in the immediate future. Crisis after crisis after crises…repeated ad infinitum. If one crisis gets resolved, another is already in the wings—just waiting for prime time. That’s Washington today.

Will something change it? Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s not the important question. The true question is whether American citizens will see through the endless crises, attacks, spin, manipulations, and innuendo—and focus their attention on the things that really matter. If we do, and if we only support media and news that actually focus on the important things, and vote for leaders who do the same (regardless of media manipulation) in every election, we’ll help keep the nation on track. The media will howl and moan and scream and whine, but they can be taken with a grain of salt. We should listen to the media, hear what they have to say, but we should take our own counsel as citizens.

Up Next

The following maxim for the 21st Century is needed:

Perception isn’t reality.

Reality is reality. Wise citizens will grin at the uproar when the media is off base, because they know the real story is very simple:

  1. Is Washington deregulating the economy and people’s lives, or increasing freedom-killing regulation? Same with state and local government? Why/Why not?
  2. Is the economy growing or contracting? Why/Why not?
  3. Are we more safe from our enemies or less? Why/Why not?
  4. Is freedom growing or decreasing? Why/Why not?

These four simple questions and answers tell us whether our government is helping us go forward or backward. We just need to keep our eye on the ball. Let the news wail and shriek. Hear what they have to say, and really examine their reports. Think about what you hear, and ponder, analyze, question.

Then apply the four questions outlined just above, and respond accordingly. That’s the real news.

And one more thing: Help as many people as possible do the same.

Because this is the way we should govern: With the American people firmly, wisely, and independently in charge.

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Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Citizenship &Current Events &Economics &Foreign Affairs &Government &Liberty &Politics &Prosperity &Statesmanship

3 Comments → “A 2017 State of the Union!”


  1. Dave Thomas

    4 weeks ago

    Good thoughts. Since November I’ve thought it was extraordinary that the whole focus of the government is to bring down the president. But you have pointed out that it is just the current cycle of the status quo.

    Is the role of the media as an factual watch-dog a pipe dream. The media seems totally set on an agenda. While I wish its reporting would show both pros and cons of issues rather than only the points that support the agenda, I wonder if media has ever been “unbiased”. Is that even possible? Or do natural motivations of power, influence and money always drive them to a bias. Can anyone point to a time in history when media “worked”?

    The new media of sharing of ideas on the internet has indeed become a valuable source of idea sharing. But I wonder how long will it be allowed to last? Youtube already defunds “controversial” presentations such as discussions that challenge politically correct views.


  2. William

    4 weeks ago

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for writing.


  3. David & Rachel Garza

    3 weeks ago

    Oliver… I continue to enjoy these posts. Thank you!

    This is timely, in light of recent exposure of CNN by the Veritas guys. While I don’t like government intervention, I do wonder if news stations should be made to disclose whether their reports are fact vs. fiction. (or have a disclaimer that the report is opinion, etc)

    When I go to a library, I get to choose whether I want to read fiction or non-fiction. When The Shack came out, many people became angry because they thought it was a true story, even though the book was classified as fiction.

    The problem with modern news media, is that they’re acting under the assumption that their journalistic virtue is in place. However, what has become evident is that there is a bias which overwhelmingly leans.

    What can be done, or should anything be done? Is the free market of ideas and speech powerful enough to negate the falsity of this media beast?


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