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Independents

News of the Day by Oliver DeMille

October 10th, 2019 // 6:30 am @

It’s Getting Extreme Out There!

October 2019:

The news is tumultuous these days. Growing threats of impeachment, allegations that the leading presidential candidate broke the law in the Ukraine and China for family gain, the current president accused of numerous mistakes, partisans pointing angry fingers at each other, gaggles of “experts” assuring us that one side or the other is all wrong, wars and rumors of wars. It never seems to let up. Each newscast, day after day, brings the “Breaking News”, which amounts to the latet and worsening allegations, “gotcha” politics, and promises of more to come.

But we shouldn’t be worried about this. Seriously. The news media today isn’t nearly as extreme as it was in the 1830s with its battles between Andrew Jackson and the National Bank. That was a time of major division, anger, and a lot of violence. The 1850s news media was even worse. And the media climate in the Boss Tweed period (1870s), the height of the Muckraker era (1905-1925), and the counter-culture wars of the 1960s were far more divided than anything we now experience. Today’s media extremes aren’t even as tumultuous or noisy as the Jefferson vs. Hamilton conflicts, which were immediately followed by the Jefferson vs. Adams battles. Yes, today’s news is intense, partisan, and adversarial—but nothing as bad as these other times in American history.

We do tend to feel more upset by media extremism today than in the past, partly because television and other audio-visual media are more emotionally engaging than reading things in hard print, but mainly because during the relatively peaceful era between 1970 and 2014 most Americans came to believe in, and trust, the stated ideals of “modern objective journalism”. We bought into media and government as credible sources of true information. In 1973, for example, 42% of Americans had high confidence in Congress (today it’s 11%), and 46% had high confidence in television news (today it’s only 18%). But the era of objective journalism is now largely past, replaced by a return to the kind of turbulent, extremist, and intemperate news media that has been the norm in most free nations through history.

Scientist Carl Sagan described this when he wrote: “The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites [now down to 10 seconds or less]…but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”Jim Morrison warned: “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.”

But it turns out that Morrison was wrong on this point. The reality is that in most eras of media peace and quiet politics, freedom quickly declines. When the people are actively battling for their freedoms, politics is full of turmoil and political parties threaten each other with allegations, exaggerations, lies, and name-calling. In a free society, the masses want their government to be peaceful, quietly handling business, and their media professional, trusted, and smilingly civil. But in such times, freedom tends to be attacked and reduced behind the scenes.

In response, the people take notice, and (hopefully) push back—when they do, the politics and media heat up. Historical truth: If there isn’t commotion in politics, the people are losing ground. To get back their freedoms, and their control over the well-funded plans and agendas of elites, turbulence and uproar are needed. Madison told us that the American system was purposely designed so that such uproars would focus on elections, not violent revolutions. Good news: it’s working.

Part of this is easy to keep track of. When the media is polished, quiet, seemingly objective, and widely trusted, the people usually let politicians increase power (and decrease freedoms). In turbulent times like ours, the people see the media for what it is—mostly a propaganda arm of elite power. When the people don’t trust the media, freedom is in better shape than when the people just believe the news. Freedom thrives when the people don’t trust media, or politicians. When they keep a close eye on everything done by government, corporations, media, and elites. Such times are naturally more noisy, chaotic, and confusing. Which is precisely the reason the people pay attention. We are living right now in just such a time. Consider the approval rating* of the following major American institutions right now:

Very High

None

High

The Military 73%

Small Business 68%

Medium

Police 53%

The Presidency 38%

Supreme Court: 38%

The Medical System 36%

Organized Religion/Church 36%

Low

Banks 30%

Public Schools 29%

Very Low

Big Business 23%

Newspapers 23%

Television News 18%

Congress 11%

The fact that the nightly news and Congress suffer such low confidence from the American people tells us that we’re in a better place than most people think. Specifically: The people are watching, and they aren’t buying what Congress and the media are promoting. They just don’t trust these institutions. Only 18% and 11% confidence? Seriously? Of course, guess who tells us the opposite? The media. They’re trying to justify their jobs, and they’re not winning this debate. In fact, it’s getting worse for them the louder and more extreme they become. American confidence in the news media was 24% in 2016, 20% in 2017, and now down to 18%. If they keep this up, they could soon be as unpopular as Congress.

In short, if the nightly news is full of partisan conflict, it means a lot of people are fighting for our freedoms. That’s good news. So smile at the noisy media, and study a little deeper. That’s what good citizens do in times of turmoil. Of course, this doesn’t mean that current events in Washington aren’t important. They are. In fact, they are so important that wise Americans shouldn’t let themselves get distracted by media exaggerations or political in-fighting. Real challenges to our freedom are occurring, but much of what happens is different than the news reports. We all need to stay vigilant—keeping an eye on what’s really going on. When the media is loud and extreme, it’s usually hiding something, so pay attention and dig deeper than the news. And remember: if the media ever turns peaceful, quiet, not much commotion—that’s the time to be even more concerned.

*Source: Gallup

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Business &Citizenship &Community &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &History &Independents &Information Age &Leadership &Liberty &Politics

The Jefferson-Madison Debates: HOW TO KILL THE CONSTITUTION (IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS…)

September 3rd, 2019 // 9:43 am @

A Review of 3 Books on the Future of Freedom

[*see titles below]

If you care about freedom, this article may be one of the most important things you ever read. If you care about the U.S. Constitution, it is definitely this important.

Some of the most significant proposals to drastically change our political system were recently outlined in several very interesting books. The first that we’ll address here is entitled It’s Time to Fight Dirty, and the stated purpose of this book is to show how Democrats can fully beat Republicans by circumventing the Constitution, or in some cases just the current political system—within the lines, of course, not by coup or overthrow.

Part I: Gaming the Constitution

To get a sense of the scale and scope of the suggestions, consider the specific proposals in question. Whether upon reflection you conclude that these are dangerous and bad ideas, or on the contrary that they are a bunch of really excellent propositions, or whatever you think of them, understanding them is vital for anyone who cares about the future of America, and freedom. Indeed, I am impressed with the author of It’s Time to Fight Dirty for thinking about the Constitution so deeply. I wish a lot more Americans did so. I believe that given the full light of day, most people will support the Constitution rather than move to some other model of government. But as long as most Americans actually know very little about it, we’re in real trouble. This allows the enemies of freedom to tear it down bit by bit while few Americans even bother to take notice.

Here are some of the major proposals in It’s Time to Fight Dirty:

  • “The 58 State Solution”[i]

By increasing the number of states, and carefully bringing to statehood areas that are already solidly “blue”, this suggestion quickly moves the entire nation to the Left. Then, without much effort, more states and more progressive senators can amend the Constitution at will. Leading candidates to become new blue states include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and “Seven Californias”[ii], as it is described in the book (new states created by breaking California into multiple states).[iii]

Problem: In this scenario, the Constitution quickly becomes the plaything of a small group of powerful elites. They redefine it to their benefit. We would witness major alterations to our system, almost overnight, likely all in the direction of collectivist progressivism for the masses, with major exemptions and increased power for a select elite. Freedom would take major hits, and it would get worse over time.

  • The Neutron Option” or “Packing the Court”[iv]

According to It’s Time to Fight Dirty, this entails ending lifetime terms for justices and letting each president appoint 2 members to the Court. Or, as FDR attempted, wait until a Democrat is in the White House and then increase the size of the Court, with the Democratic president adding all the new justices.

Problem: Court-packing is, of course, always going to be a hyper-partisan venture, but the purpose of the third branch of government is to uphold the Constitution, not decrease its authority, or simply change it (or water it down) without Amendment. Either approach—Neutron or Packing—would almost certainly end the back-and-forth battle between conservatives and progressives, and thus disenfranchise about half the nation’s voters. The implementation of these proposals would mean Court-mandated changes to our entire system—and about half the nation’s voters would be permanently out of government power in all three branches–likely, forever.

  • Scrap the Electoral College[v]

In this proposal, we would elect presidents by a straight national popular vote.

Problem: If the president is elected by straight national majority vote, none of the little states, or less populated states, will have much say in who rules the nation. The Framers wanted a prospective president to have to win “majorities in a majority of states”, with the impact of each state’s majority weighted by population. This is a little complex, but it keeps people living outside big cities, and in small and sparsely populated states, involved in our democracy. Without the Electoral College, most people who live outside the biggest cities and most populous states would have practically no say in electing our leaders. That’s oligarchy, not democracy. Pure national-level democracy is the reason the Framers believed that big republics can’t work; Madison argued at the Constitutional Convention that they can work, as long as we’re smart about it—like using a “majority of the majority of states” rather than a simple national majority that disenfranchises the voters in all but the most populous states.

  • Move to a Parliamentary System[vi]

This means allowing the president to be elected not by a majority of the electoral votes, but rather by the highest percentage of votes (a plurality). In other words, we’d transition from two major parties to a bunch of parties, scrap the Electoral College, and—for example—the person getting 29 percent of the vote, would win—as long as no other candidate got more. So, in this theoretical example, the Democrat gets 29 percent, the Republican gets 27 percent, Democratic Socialist Party gets 12 percent, Green Party candidate gets 10 percent, Violent White Nationalist Party gets 1 percent,[vii] Violence Against Conservatives Party gets 2 percent,[viii] Silicon Techno Party gets 8 percent,[ix] Rust Belt Jobs Party gets 9 percent,[x] and several other parties get a few thousand votes each. Various parties can even combine their votes together in order to win and then divide up the spoils.

Problem: In this model we would tend to get more extreme presidents in each election, because candidates would have little or no incentive to appeal to the center of their own party, much less to the center of the whole nation in general elections. Special interest money would centralize to an even more elite few—causing increased top-down government by a small ruling class. It’s the Military-Industrial-Bureaucratic-Complex on steroids. To make this even worse, the leadership of Congress in this system would always be the very same as the White House, cancelling most of the value of checks and balances between the Executive and Legislative branches. No more Constitution—at least in reality. Gone. Fin. Over. Many freedoms would go with it.

Overall, my perspective is that most of these proposals could, arguably, destroy the Constitution in the process. It’s Time to Fight Dirty justifies this by arguing, in essence, that Republicans started it, that they began the dirty (outside the Constitution) tactics. In fact, this is partly true. The establishment wings of both major political parties have ignored or skirted the Constitution in a number of ways over the course of many decades. Even if Republicans were the only ones to ever undermine the Constitution, however, Democrats (or anyone) choosing to do this a lot more frequently and even more effectively is not good for our nation.

If you believe, as I do, that the Constitution is the best system humanity has developed so far for maintaining genuine freedom in a lasting fashion, anything that undermines it is ill-advised. While the Constitution began with the glaring flaw of allowing slavery, the system it established eventually found ways to overcome this, and a number of other ills, with a lot of pain along the way—and in the process provided more freedom and opportunity to more people than any other governmental form in recorded human history. Destroying it, especially with the short-term goal of winning partisan political battles (no matter which side you’re on) is not a good plan. If the Constitution is destroyed, or significantly weakened, I’m convinced we’ll witness a massive loss of freedom, opportunity, human dignity, prosperity, and happiness for people on all levels of the socio-economic scale in the following fifty years—not just in the United States but in many places around the world—and that it will take decades, perhaps centuries to get back to the level we now enjoy. We don’t want to go backwards; we’ve got too many problems right now that we need to solve, so we don’t want to get stuck just trying to get back to where we already are.

With this at stake, undermining the Constitution makes party agendas look shallow, even petty. I understand that many issues held dear in both parties are infused with high levels of passion in the current environment, and have been for at least the past twenty-five years (and escalating), but from the larger perspective of history they are still trivial in comparison to undercutting the U.S. Constitution. Both sides greatly benefit from its protections, year after year. And nothing I’ve seen proposed to date is anything close to better, or even as good.

It’s important to note that the author of It’s Time to Fight Dirty does outline some very good ideas, putting an end to gerrymandering, for example. It’s also true that Republicans have pushed a number of “dirty” plans, from widespread gerrymandering (realigning voting district boundaries in a way that “your” party will win more elections) to the “W” Bush administration investigating political opponents in election years (accomplishing very little in legal terms, but casting negative light on those running against them). Like twin toddlers tussling in the playroom, it’s hard to honestly say which party first started the “dirty” tactics—just look at local and state elections through U.S. history. Both parties are to blame for undermining the Constitution.

But that’s real the point: Weakening the Constitution for partisan goals is shortsighted and, ultimately, bad for America (and beyond).

Part II: Deep State Rules

With all this said, the proposals in It’s Time to Fight Dirty aren’t actually the worst “dirty” plans to undermine the Constitution. For example, some have proposed “tanking” the economy to stop the reelection of a president they don’t like, by manipulating interest rates through the Federal Reserve or getting a consortium of wealthy banks, billionaires, and other entities with major financial clout to take steps that bring the economy down—“just until after the election” that they want to go their way. Or consider the rising power of the deep state, bureaucrats working within the government who simply use their influence and authority to push personal or partisan agendas—regardless of what the laws require. This is deep power. It also cuts against the positive goals of both major parties, and hamstrings their winning candidates—Reagan and Clinton, Obama and Trump, etc.

This should concern all voters—your power over who rules you is simply rejected and ignored. In this reality, elections matter very little. And, unlike the relatively straightforward proposals outlined above, this occurs almost entirely in secret. Even the media may take months or years to realize what’s actually going on. If the suggestions above are ill-advised, this approach is downright corrupt.

But it’s not theory. It’s already happening. The deep state threat is real, and amounts to:

  • Ignoring Elections

This doesn’t mean the people ignore elections, or the media, or even our elected officials. Our freedoms are never in worse danger than when actual agents of the government, federal employees in any or all of the three branches, especially in executive agencies and courts, ignore Congress, the White House, the courts, and even the law. They make decisions, or don’t, without letting anyone else consider what is needed, and influence our lives in a thousand other little ways. Sometimes these become big issues in individual lives, but we are informed of the bureaucratic mantra: “That’s just the way it is.” This is real power. It always undermines freedom, and it frequently hurts people. It has now reached the level of pandemic, though it remains largely in the shadows. It is a serious abuse of the Constitution.

In fact, the challenge from the deep state is much bigger than most people realize. Consider the following comment by Senator Mike Lee:

“I keep two towers of documents in my Senate office. The first is only a few inches tall. A collection of all the legislation passed by Congress in [a year], it contains about eight hundred pages. The second tower, which is eleven feet tall, is a collection of regulations proposed and adopted by federal agencies in [the same year]. It contains about eighty thousand pages.

“These extraordinarily unequal towers illustrate a startling reality: The U.S. Congress no longer passes most of the federal laws, rules, and regulations that are imposed on the American people. While a mountain of those rules are decreed by an army of unelected federal bureaucrats, only about 1 percent of the rules we must live by are enacted by the most accountable branch of government—Congress.”[xi]

This dangerous reality led one author to write a chapter entitled: “Do Elections Matter?” The title of the book, written by Mike Lofgren, is The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. Perhaps the most consistent theme I noticed while closely reading this book is how many congressmen, senators, and presidents from both parties are now (or have been) in numerous ways subordinate to the bureaucracy.[xii] Not officially, and not in the minds of the regular people, but actually, in real life. It is the bureaucrats who provide elected and many top appointed officials (in all three branches) with the information they use to make powerful, life-impacting decisions on many fronts, and it is usually bureaucrats (often the same ones) who implement such decisions after they are made. If the top official has questions or misgivings about the information that is provided, he/she typically turns to experts for further clarification—such experts are nearly always the same, or other, bureaucrats.

Shadow government, indeed. Unknown. Powerful. Anonymous as well, at least in any practical sense. And while many of these people have amassed decades of employment seniority, they typically face no accountability to voters. They seldom face real accountability at all.

Part III: Quantocracy[xiii]

Another major attack on freedom and the Constitution comes from what Frank Pasquale terms, simply:

  • The Black Box Society[xiv]

This consists of a number of secret algorithms, owned and utilized by various corporations and government agencies. These algorithms, and those who control them, exert significant power over people, organizations, and even governments. They interfere in our elections (all of them, at least at the national level, and many others as well), and in those of other nations. They are even more shadowy than the deep state, and many of them operate without governmental oversight—working for banks, big tech, consulting organizations, Wall Street and Silicon Valley firms, investment, finance, big data, and governmental intelligence agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Orwell’s warning is now reality: they are watching. Some for profit, others in the name of security, still others for information, influence, and/or power.

According to Pasquale, and the ample research he shares in his book The Black Box Society, algorithms and their proprietors literally “control money and information” in the current economy—not only in the United States but around the world.[xv] Pasquale wrote: “As technology advances, market pressures raise the stakes of the data game. Surveillance cameras become cheaper every year; sensors are embedded in more places. Cell phones track our movements; programs log our keystrokes…”[xvi] Devices in our homes, televisions, cars and businesses listen, watch, and record. “The resulting data—a vast amount of data…—is fed into databases and assembled into profiles of unprecedented depth and specificity. But to what ends…?”[xvii] Who controls it? And who could control it next month, next year?

Whatever the answers to these disturbing questions, many of the institutions that collect and control such information about each of us also have direct power over important parts of our lives. Do we qualify for a loan? The algorithms, and those who program them and later analyze their data, decide. Do our politics lean Left or Right, and based on this what news stories and feeds will appear when we search for information online? Will our messages sent be delivered, or “lost”, “masked”, “shadowed”? Will the things that appear when we search online support our leanings, or purposely seek to change our views? Can third parties pay for what they want us to see and read? Can they, in effect, buy us, by buying the information they want us to encounter—information tailored specifically to each of us, digitally individualized, designed to sway our specific beliefs and actions in ways that benefit the buyers? Will they guide us to the kind of news, purchases, investments or connections we want, or those that someone, somewhere, has determined would be best for us? Or for them? All of this is within the power of Black Box algorithms. Moreover, this is already the norm in many ways.

Important question: Is such power subject to any limits, checks or balances, even when it is wielded by government entities or agencies? If not, this undermines the Constitutional structure of adequate limits, checks and balances on all powers delegated to the federal government.

Obviously the Framers didn’t specifically strategize Constitutional safeguards against the government operating (or piggy-backing) algorithms to electronically data mine or apply predictive analytics toward the citizens. But their intent in this arena is clear from the Fourth Amendment language concerning protections from searches of “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Freedom is undermined when personal or business information is being collected, stored, owned, or analyzed by government or other power organizations—whether it is called “mining”, “surveillance”, “data”, “analytics,” “metadata”, “sessionization”, “mix modelling”,  “stemming”, “event processing”, or anything else. This applies to “cloud”, “cluster”, “lake”, “IoT”, “ETL”, “CEP”, “hive”, and anything else that originally belongs to or comes from one person or private group.

Dressing it up in technical jargon doesn’t make it okay for the government or any other powerful computationally-enhanced entity to just take it, or use it, no matter how fancy the math. Perhaps the United States needs to follow the example of Estonia and teach computer coding to all students in elementary schools.[xviii] If our citizens are going to rule their own nation, they need to read and understand our Constitution, and perhaps also read and understand the codes and algorithms their government and other entities can use to control the people.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, except those who code, and especially those who hire the coders and control the coded algorithms and information: some are more equal than others…”

Part IV: The Big Twelve

Orwellian references aside, today’s American citizen is at times alarmingly unaware of the threats to freedom. Consider, for example, the following “declarations” proclaimed by Google in its early years, and still espoused by many tech industry insiders in the U.S. and abroad:

  • “We claim human experience as raw material free for the taking. On the basis of this claim, we can ignore considerations of individuals’ rights, interests, awareness, or comprehension.”[xix]
  • “On the basis of our claim, we assert the right to take an individual’s experience for translation into behavioral data.”[xx]

These are the first two of six such declarations. The others claim the right to own whatever data they take, and to use it however they choose.[xxi] The message is clear, albeit shocking: Someone owns us. This is not good for freedom, except the kind of elitist “freedom” (license) that does whatever it wants, whatever it can get away with. One author called these six declarations the beginning of a new “age of conquest”.[xxii] The strong conquer, rule, and label it “freedom”, “democracy”, “social democracy”, or whatever they choose to call it. This new reality, the new economy, if it succeeds, is built on the poignant question: “Are we all going to be working for a smart machine, or will we have smart people around the machine?”[xxiii] Either way, the hierarchy is top-down, with most people living as part of the “down”.

The real question is right in front of us: “Who knows? Who decides? Who decides who decides?”[xxiv] If so much information about you is legally owned by a Black Box somewhere, and those who control it, and if the owners have all the rights concerning this information, what parts of you are owned by others? And if the owners have the right to convert this information into behavioral data, to analyze it and use it to model your tendencies, to buy and sell it to others, and to directly influence your choices using this same data, how much does this impinge upon your freedom?

For example, if there are five possible paths for a baby to take when he crawls through the doorway leaving his room, but he can only actually see or hear three of these paths, is he really free to take either of the two paths that he can’t detect? This logic applies to the information we access, and all entities (governmental, corporate, and combined) that gather and utilize information about us. If there are five options we can choose from in making a life decision, big or small, and the data collected about us is used to ensure that we are only informed about three of these options, is our freedom reduced? (Some would say “stolen”, or “usurped”.) If a for-profit entity like a bank or corporation does this, what term would we use to describe this action?

What about a “for-power” organization such as a government, activist media outlet, big tech firm, activist online platform, or political consultant hired to target certain voters to make specific choices on election day? How much does such a consultant get paid for your vote? And are such payments for votes legal? What if the payments go to First-Amendment-protected media organizations that are compensated specifically to influence your vote—albeit “indirectly” by paid advertisers who are part of the side arrangement? Can votes be bought? If so, can they also be sold? What if those same media or online platform organizations receive government subsidies, contracts, or tax breaks—and the way they sort and deliver information to you, and how you vote based on the information they provide (or withhold), impacts the level of money (or resistance) they receive from the government?

“Black Box”, indeed…

We are in the “undiscovered country” of 21st Century governance, legality, morality, psychology, technology and business. Which rules are new? Which do we know about? What don’t we understand?

It is this last question that always leads to the loss of freedom—from Ancient Greece, Babylon or Egypt to medieval Italy or modern Ukraine, Egypt, Ohio, or California. Arrogantly, in the United States we tend to think we are on side of “knowledge”. But do we fluently speak R, Python, or Julia, not to mention the really cutting edge dialects of digitized power? Have we even heard of these, or know why they matter? We don’t know what we don’t know—yet we the citizens are supposed to be in charge of our nation. According to Forbes, in 2019 “Data Science is the best job in the U.S. for the last three consecutive years.”[xxv] But how many people with these jobs make the actual decisions—the big ones that steer society? Answer: none. They work for the decision makers, corporate and governmental.

How many government and corporate projects, and technologies, are now dedicated to “behavioral modification”? And do they mainly target conservatives and libertarians, or liberals and progressives? While the blue and the red argue about the issues of the day, passionately pointing fingers at each other, the quiet answer is unflinching: Both. All. Everyone.

We are at times duped by the sideshow. The nightly news broadcasts and hourly feeds keep us tied to the reality-TV shows we call political news. But the worst assaults on freedom frequently happen off-stage. Unless we know where to look, we don’t even notice. We think the news is real. It is often a lot more like clever theater. Is the answer to learn coding, to study C++, SQL, and other big data languages? Or to become a data scientist and infiltrate Silicon Valley? Is working for the “big nine” the path to leadership in our time?[xxvi] The “big nine” are Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent [China], Baidu [China], Alibaba [China], Microsoft, IBM and Apple. The “big twelve” are the same corporations plus the big-data arms of the U.S. government, the Chinese government, and the Russian government, and the workers and thinkers in the “big twelve” community are in some ways more closely connected than most Americans are to each other. The divisions between them, especially those based on the letterhead in their offices,[xxvii] are often much less significant than the blue/red divide in American life. The real story is happening, but often goes unnoticed.

In short, the solutions won’t likely come from within the technology institutions or culture, mainly because expertise is now a “for-hire” sport, not a “change the world” activity. Working for an employer almost always means furthering their agenda. To effect significant change, in contrast, one must engage more entrepreneurial pursuits. Enterprise remains by far the most effective vehicle of innovative leadership.

Part V: Three Steps to Kill the Constitution

In this atmosphere, with the U.S. Constitution pulling in one direction and so many opposing forces pulling the other, how can humanity’s best chance at genuine freedom win the day? The Framers were clear from the very beginning that the Constitution’s success depended on the regular people. If they couldn’t rise to the occasion, the Constitution wouldn’t last. Benjamin Franklin put it succinctly. When asked by a citizen what kind of government the Convention had created, he replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.” He put the onus for Constitutional success on the regular people. It remains firmly in the same place today, though few people actually realize it.

In a sense, “killing” the Constitution in our day is an easy task. Get the people to forget it, ignore it, and fail to study it closely or frequently. Check! Done. Step one is accomplished.

The other two steps have proven more difficult, despite the efforts of the sharpest minds elite money can buy and the generational funding of massively endowed and funded universities, trusts, media corporations, K-Street special interest lobbyists, the great banks, and a host of storied private foundations and think tanks. The combined wit and treasure of the elite classes haven’t quite been able to pull it off.

This is all a shocking surprise, to tell the truth. How can the ignorant masses face off against the biggest and best and richest and most ruthless, and keep coming out on top—without even understanding why, and in most cases without even realizing what they’re doing? It defies logic.

The challenge resides in this little-publicized fact: the American Framers predicted the elite, multigenerational onslaught against their most important work (the U.S. Constitution), and they drummed up a little “algorithmic computational code” of their own. So far, it’s been battered, repeatedly put under siege, and even cracked a few times, but it hasn’t quite broken. Much of the “code” remains intact, and the “algorithms” have proven both resilient and, shockingly, self-healing and self-improving.

The Constitution Code

https://tjed.org/product/bbf

The Framers’ formula is, in a way, a self-protecting AI. Every American should know it and understand it. But very few do. Here’s how it works:

  • Governments exert power.
  • This is good when the power is used to protect the life, liberty, property, and inalienable rights of the citizens.
  • It is bad when that power is used against the people, usually by elite groups (inside or outside the government) striving to increase their own power and status at the expense of the masses.
  • The challenge is that no group other than the masses ever adequately protects the people’s interests and inalienable rights, yet the masses themselves tend to get distracted from doing this on their own.
  • The solution to this dilemma begins with dividing the elite groups of power into separate cliques and convincing/incentivizing them to limit, check and balance each other—hopefully dissuading them from joining forces and taking away the rights of the people and simultaneously giving themselves control of the nation’s resources.
  • Such a solution is complex and difficult, but can be achieved by what Jefferson called “dividing and subdividing government” in multiple ways that keep elites from combining their forces against the masses. The key is to keep the elites focused on battling each other.
  • The U.S. Constitution established just such a system and result.
  • It had various initial flaws, particularly slavery, but the overall structure incentivized improvements over time; many of the flaws were fixed, and the basic direction and protections grew in strength and momentum. Elites battled each other in numerous ways, but the masses unwittingly kept most of their freedoms intact. The process was painful and imperfect, but it kept improving, albeit not rapidly. Groups with fewer freedoms slowly gained more, usually without reducing the overall freedoms of the whole society. The “code” worked.
  • The system contracted certain viruses as time passed. One, the old virus of class division, infiltrated the code largely by reviving political party conflict. The parties grew in power, and threatened the entire balance.
  • Another virus, also an old standby of past governmental decline, came in the form of elite corruption in the halls of power. This grew over time, patiently spreading its tentacles into institutions of influence—both public and private. The two viruses learned to work together, mainly through political parties and other special interests (including academia, media, and big business).
  • Both of these dangerous viruses wormed into the Framers’ code, but found themselves strangely limited. They were able to flourish, but not win. Both operated on the assumption that power, wealth, and knowledge eventually win the day, only to discover that the Framers had anticipated this and prepared accordingly. All the power, education, expertise and funding the elites could bring to bear were thwarted by the Framers’ “algorithms”—the people didn’t wither under such attacks (as expected, based on thousands of years of historical precedent), nor did they try to directly fight back (as also anticipated). Instead, they simply took note of, or even ignored, the plans of elites. This was quite unexpected, and quite unprecedented. The Framers’ “code” thrived.
  • But how? How did the masses win in such circumstances? How did the “code” change things? The answers are unconventional and, as mentioned, largely unprecedented. Benefiting from the Founding model, the people exerted voting power in a strange way: regardless of the words of experts, or the powerful spin of academia and media and money, they instinctively pushed back against much of what the elites promoted. The masses seemed to have a sixth sense in these matters. If the elites wanted it, the voters pushed against it. Whatever the elites did to promote their agenda, the regular people quietly, usually without openly realizing it, sensed the pressure and voted against it. Sometimes they failed to do this in a single election, and more rarely for two consecutive elections. But never for three or more. No matter the actions, plans, schemes or grand strategies of the elites, the masses instinctively voted the contrary. They did this even when political parties rose up and tried to inflame the masses to extreme reactions. Many were fooled by this powerful strategy. But when the elections came, the electorate pushed back against the wishes of the elites. Not logically, but emotionally. And, again, they did this quietly, in most cases without fanfare. Elites often didn’t actually know what was coming until election night. This happened numerous times in modern day. In the recorded annals of history, this was new. The Framers’ code created a system where the people, the masses, experienced a new power, a new sense of when elites are pushing for something, and how strongly they are pushing, and a corresponding incentive to push back en masse.
  • This pattern indeed flew in the face of three millennia of written history, but the Framers, who knew this history as well as any generation before or after, coded it into the cells, cell walls, and very syntax of the system. And it held, despite massive pressure brought against it in multiple formats and from all directions.
  • It still holds today.

When the U.S. Constitution has been altered by legitimate Amendment, this Framers’ “code” has strengthened. When it has been circumvented or diluted by “dirty” tricks, weaknesses have appeared. Note that this includes both unconstitutional changes (such as Court decree rather than following the Amendment process, etc.), and also alterations that are technically not unconstitutional, but are still “dirty” because they violate the intent and design of the Framers. Again, it’s worth repeating that both major political parties are guilty of many dirty tricks of this sort.

Now, down to details:

https://tjed.org/product/2019-tjed-freedom-convention/

Step One of Killing the Constitution is to get the masses to shirk their duty to study, know, revere and masterfully apply the Constitution. As mentioned, this is a fait accompli. The enemies of the Constitution have won this part of the battle, at least for now.

Step Two is to get the masses to stop instinctively pushing back against elite agendas and proposals that in any way raise elites above the people and threaten to lessen the freedom or rights of the regular people. To date this has been repeatedly and aggressively attempted, but it hasn’t worked. Not in big ways. The Constitutional code has been weakened some, but not beaten. The Framers’ “algorithms” are working.[xxviii] Note that they work in part by pitting elites on the Left against elites on the Right, and vice versa. While these opposing camps of elites think they are battling each other, they frequently serve to warn the masses about each other—greatly influencing elections, but not in the way elites expect. Elites on both sides tend to believe that when they “expose” elites on the other side they will strengthen their own side—the reality tends more to exposing all elites. Again, this was part of the Framers’ intent, or “code”.

Step Three is to get the few on the side of the masses who deeply understand the code (Albert Jay Nock called them “the Remnant”) to give up, switch sides and join the elites, or stop passing on Remnant-level knowledge and depth to the rising generations. This has proven impossible. The enemies of the Constitution have achieved no significant victories concerning this Step. Today’s Remnant are strong—people who love freedom and understand the Constitution deeply, one could say “algorithmically”, at the level of the Framers themselves.

Conclusion

Throughout the history of free nations, there are constant attacks on freedom and the principles upon which freedom is built. This remains the rule in our world today. The U.S. Constitution, under which more genuine freedom has been experienced by more people than in any other government in recorded history, is a powerful framework for freedom, and it is the best hope for continued freedom for the masses (and also the elites) in the years and decades ahead. Attempts to undermine the Constitution are many. They appear in multiple ways, both old and new, each year, many times a year, employing a variety of sources, methods, and tactics.

This will no doubt continue as long as we are free. As such, it is a good thing, an ongoing sign that people are using their freedoms to explore many options, question what works, and seek solutions to the real problems we still face. But freedom is not guaranteed. Historically, it is quite fragile. It only lasts when the people effectively stand up for it. It disappears when the masses fail to demand it. It is always, as Ronald Reagan warned, just one generation away from extinction. If we don’t protect it, we will lose it. If we are distracted, too busy, or too lazy or ignorant to fight for it, we deserve to lose it.

As mentioned, the First Step in destroying the Constitution is already accomplished. The Third will never be achieved. It is to the Second Step that the enemies of freedom amass their energy. They wield the might and power of all the money in the world, the wit and wisdom and will of the biggest and most prestigious institutions on earth, and the force of many in government, banks, universities, media outlets, corporations, foundations, experts and armies.

Against this stands the yet unexplained habit of the American people to sniff out elite schemes and vote them down, sometimes swinging Right and other times Left in a seemingly illogical, uncanny, and incredibly potent pattern of effective choices—decade after decade. Their actions are far from perfect, and they are not coordinated, yet so far they have kept the regular people’s place above all the polish, erudition and stratagems of the world’s so-called “best and brightest”—those in financial and political power.

Still, little by little, the enemies of freedom whittle away around the edges. Over time, this reduces freedom, slowly but surely. Today this erosion is approaching a serious danger point—especially if “dirty tricks” steal away the Constitution in ways that further undermine its effectiveness. We are living in the times described by W.B. Yeats:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Will the American voters at some point lose their proven “sixth” sense of quietly rebuffing elite agendas? If so, will this happen soon? Or, more specifically, will those who hate our Constitutional freedoms find ways to destroy the system that endows the regular people this power? The pressure to do so continues to build.

(For more on this topic, including effective solutions, read Oliver DeMille’s book Freedom Shift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny>> )


*Books Reviewed:


NOTES

[i] David Faris, 2018, It’s Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Op. Cit., Faris

[vii] No such party actually exists, at least not as such; hopefully, of course, nothing of the sort ever will, or get anything near 1% support in the electorate.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Mike Lee, 2015, Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document

[xii] Mike Lofgren, 2016, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government

[xiii] Quantocracy: Government Rule by Algorithms and Quants

[xiv] Frank Pasquale, 2015, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Questions: Does Estonia still do this in 2019? Have any other nations followed suit?

[xix] Cited in Shoshana Zuboff, 2019, The Age of Surveillance: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] See ibid.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] Cited in bigdata-madesimple.com

[xxvi] Amy Webb, 2019, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

[xxvii] Anachronistic? Probably.

[xxviii] The American Founding era phrase for what we might term a sort of political “algorithm” was “auxiliary precautions”.

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Book Reviews &Business &Citizenship &Community &Constitution &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &History &Independents &Information Age &Leadership &Liberty &Mission &Politics &Producers &Statesmanship &Technology

News of the Day By Oliver DeMille: Election 2020

August 3rd, 2019 // 12:48 pm @

Election 2020

Who can challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 election? This question is important — whether you like Trump and plan to vote for him, or don’t like him and plan to vote for the 2020 Democrat nominee, or don’t like him much but feel he’s better than the alternatives.

Who can challenge Trump?

Trying to answer this question for myself led to four different lines of thinking, each of them interesting:

Four Options

First, none of the current candidates on the Democrat side seem to possess the ability to effectively inspire broad popular support. One may eventually rise to the top, of course, but it seems it’s going to take a new person with a new charisma, not one of the old names like Biden, Bernie, or Warren. Possible new faces: Kamala Harris? Amy Klobuchar? Andrew Yang? Other? Maybe. But so far none of them have gained any major traction. It’s early, though, so this could change.

Second, one name does strike fear into the hearts of many Trump supporters: Michele Obama. To date she’s strongly denied any interest in running for the Oval Office. But her numbers would likely skyrocket to the top of the ticket if she announced. Will the Obamas refuse this call to power? So far, yes.

Third, perhaps the biggest challenge to Trump in 2020 could come from Jerome Powell. As chairman of the Federal Reserve, he and his colleagues could push interest and inflation rates in directions that would significantly dampen the U.S. economy, throwing a major wrench into Trump’s top accomplishment and the core of his support. This is seldom, if ever, mentioned in the media, but it remains a significant possibility. Stay tuned…and keep watch.

Fourth, a considerable problem for Trump could come from the success of Republican economic policies at the state level. Specifically, no Republican can win the presidency in the current system unless they win both Florida and Texas, but state-level Republican leaders and their pro-growth, low-regulation policies have attracted a lot of businesses and people relocating to these states. The challenge for Trump, and Republicans running for Congress, is that a preponderance of those moving into Florida and Texas vote liberal, not conservative. Trump beat Hillary in Florida in 2016 by just 112,911 votes, and over a million new people have moved to the Sunshine State since then, with over a million more expected by the 2020 election.

The same is true with Texas—Trump won by a more convincing 807,179 votes, but Texas has grown by 1.2 million since 2016 and is projected to grow by a total of approximately 2.3 million by election day 2020 (with about a quarter of these voters moving from California). This significantly changes the makeup of the electorate. Again, more than a mere majority of those relocating to Florida and Texas tend to vote liberal.

Whatever your politics, these four things are worth watching as we move closer to election night 2020.

Interested in more?

(Oliver DeMille is the author of FreedomShift, which addresses the three key things Americans must to do in the months and years just ahead to effectively protect and keep our freedoms during the growing attack on liberty. Available Here>>)

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Citizenship &Community &Constitution &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Featured &Generations &Government &History &Independents &Information Age &Leadership &Liberty &Politics

The News of the Day: Is the Tea Party Movement Over?

August 1st, 2019 // 4:07 pm @

(And Why It Matters)

Many pundits now argue that the Tea Party movement has stopped being a serious force in U.S. politics since Donald Trump took office. The movement became popular in 2009, garnering a number of significant victories during the 2010 election. It also won some notable elections during 2012 and 2014. It had little power during the 2012 presidential election, mainly because many Tea Partiers considered Mitt Romney a liberal-leaning Republican rather than a genuine fiscal conservative. Major election victories for the Tea Party movement included Rand Paul in Kentucky (2010), Tim Scott in South Carolina (2010), Nikki Haley in South Carolina (2010), Marco Rubio in Florida (2010), Mike Lee in Utah (2010), Scott Walker in Wisconsin (2010 and 2012), Ted Cruz in Texas (2012), Mike Pence in Indiana (2012), Dan Patrick in Texas (2014), and many others.

The three major drives of the Tea Party movement were (1) significantly reducing the national debt and deficit, (2) growing the economy by cutting taxes and drastically reducing the levels of federal regulation on the free market, and (3) opposing illegal immigration and its fiscal and national-security dangers. Because candidate Trump gave vocal support to all three of these core Tea Party ideals, many believe the Tea Parties had a major role in electing him in 2016. As mentioned, some suggest that since his inauguration the Tea Party movement has declined and its popularity and influence are now all but extinct. Others argue that by effectively promoting items 2 and 3 (tax cuts and deregulation on a massive scale, and a consistent push against illegal immigration), Trump is implementing the goals of the Tea Party movement from Washington in a way that doesn’t demand continued grassroots protest.

The controversial point hinges on item 1 above, reducing the national debt, or at the very least reversing or significantly slowing its growth. A number of sources have pointed out that on this issue the president hasn’t achieved Tea Party goals, instead increasing the U.S. national debt by well over $2 trillion since he became president. The day Trump took office, the national debt was $19.9 trillion; today it is more than $22.5 trillion. In comparison, during the Obama presidency the national debt rose from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion, by far the largest increase in history. The biggest increasers of the national debt, by percentage, were 1-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1048% (of course, he was president for over 12 years, including World War II, but still…); 2-Woodrow Wilson, 727% (World War I); 3-Ronald Reagan, 186% (ramping up and eventually ending the Cold War); 3-George W. Bush, 101%; and Barack Obama, 74%. If Trump follows his projected budgets through 2020, he’ll increase the debt by 30% in his first term; in comparison, Bill Clinton increased it 32%, George H.W. Bush 54%, Jimmy Carter 43%, and Gerald Ford 47%.

Whatever your political views, a 30% increase is far more than candidate Trump promised during the election. His detractors call this a major unfulfilled promise, while his supporters, including many from the orignal Tea Parties, blame it on Ford/Bush/Bush-style RINO Republicans in Congress during 2017 and 2018, and a Democratic majority in the House beginning in 2019. Supporters also argue that a “president Hillary Clinton” would likely have increased the national debt at an even higher rate, without rebuilding the military or rebooting the U.S. economy and improving employment levels like Trump. Regardless of who is correct on these theoretical projections about what “might” have been, it remains a reality that the national debt is still increasing. With the current national debt, every American citizen (and each of their children) owes approximately $69,000 to the national debt. So, if you have a family of four, you owe about $276,000 plus interest and increased government spending going forward. Not a good situation.

If this grows by 30% in the next four years, you’ll owe about $359,000 by mid-2023, in addition to whatever private debts you hold. Increase this every four years by 30%, and we’ve all got a truly massive problem on our hands. Increase it at the Obama rate of 74% and you’ll owe a whopping $480,000 just four years from now. At the George W. Bush rate of 101% your debt in four years will be nearly $555,000. Clearly elections matter (a lot!), and just voting Republican or Democrat won’t help unless the candidate is actually a fiscal conservative; just look at Bush’s 101% rate of national debt increase! Even Obama did better. This is why the Tea Parties were just as frustrated with Bush and others they called RINOs as with Obama. Moreover, since many in the bottom tax brackets won’t pay their share of this, or any of it, and the upper class is adept at finding loopholes, most in the middle class will likely be charged double or even triple their share. By such Beltway math, in four years at Trump rates you’ll owe $1,076,400 to the national debt, or in Obama rates you’ll owe $1,440,720. If you have more than 2 kids, increase what you’ll owe accordingly.

All this to say: Given the numbers, I don’t buy it when the pundits claim the Tea Party movement is over. Right now Tea Party types are alarmed that the debt is growing at a relentless clip of 30%, but happy that it isn’t continuing at Bush or Obama speed; 74%-101% is a back breaker for everyone. Most of these people are relieved that Trump brought it down so far, so quickly, But if the rate ever climbs much higher than 30%, we’ll see major tax increases, significant unemployment numbers, and a much tougher economy. This will spark the return of millions of Americans demanding better fiscal leadership—no matter who the president is, no matter what party he/she represents. It might be called the Tea Party, or it might adopt some other nickname, but 30% debt growth is already a major long-term disaster, and a higher rate will be…too much. Increase it a little, or a lot (as many current politician’s proposals will guarantee), and we’re going to see the rise of major political reform groups that stand up and make their voices felt—loudly. If Trump continues to bring down the debt rate in significant ways, they’ll likely hold their tongues. If it goes the other direction, the next round of conservative/libertarian populist demonstrations will probably make the 2009-2016 Tea Party revolution look mild in comparison.

And, for the record, note that Europe is on the same path. Unless Western democracies get serious about addressing their massive debt/entitlement problem, the political upheaval and angry divisions of the Tea-Party/Occupy/Trump/Brexit era are going to surprise us only by how mild they were.

 

Sources:

  • TheBalance.com (statistics on national debt dollar amounts and rates per president)
  • Worldometers.info (statistics on population)
  • U.S.DebtClock.org (current national debt and growth pattern)
  • Wikipedia (election victories by Tea Party candidates)
  • Britannica.com (historical details and statistics on Tea Party movement)

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News of the Day – Media Spin

July 25th, 2019 // 3:37 pm @

I. Today in the News

There is so much going on in the news these days–big events that have major potential to influence the future of our nation and freedom. Unfortunately, almost all the news is reported with strong partisan leanings. The slant and spin are frequently overwhelming.

To respond, I’ve decided to do an in-the-news series that steps away from current partisan spin and addresses the big news of the day from the perspective of the U.S. Constitution and the viewpoint of the American Founding. It will give readers a different way to look at things. I’ll try to keep these brief and to the point, just a few paragraphs per post. I hope you will comment and share so this can influence people…

II. July 2019: Media Spin

Most people tend to see modern media as two groups warring with each other—the media Left versus media Right—over what’s really going on in America. Whatever politicians do in Washington, the Left media spins it one way, and the Right media either spins it differently or seeks to debunk what the Left media has reported. Most Americans tend to see through this spin, but very few see the “other” part of what’s actually happening.

We live in the age of reality entertainment. Sports, the original reality show, is very popular—especially big events (like the Super Bowl) on live TV. Live politics, such as debates, are popular as well, though not quite as popular as sports. Reality television programs continue to garner and keep avid fans every season.

Perhaps if we really thought about it, we would realize that there is a formula of success for reality television. Extra credit if you realize that it applies to politics every bit as much as it does to shows like The Bachelor, the Super Bowl, Survivor, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, American Idol (and all it’s talent and dance spin-offs), March Madness and the NBA Playoffs, the Real Wives series, The Apprentice, etc.

Survivor – Media Style

Here are the key points in the formula of Reality-TV Success:

  1. Ratings depend on a battle between two sides
  2. How strongly people hate one or both of the sides drives ratings, the more intense the hate, the higher the ratings
  3. To get non-interested people to start watching the show, you need to get regular people talking about the villains they hate on the show (so the uninterested people will hear about the controversy in strong enough terms that a number of them tune in)
  4. The battle and controversy must escalate each week, to keep people watching
  5. Viewers must know that a major showdown (a finale) is coming, and that it will portray high drama with a clear winner who takes all the spoils and a loser who is sent home with nothing [in politics, this finale is the next major election]
  6. Only hated villains increase ratings drastically, so the job of producers and reality-show participants is to exaggerate and dramatize the conflict, over and over, the more the better
  7. If you want to win, you need to be seen as strong and trying hard but also vulnerable, you need to be attacked and hurt, “bloodied” by your enemies and opponents, but refusing to give in or give up, to the point that many viewers are rooting for you (as much as they are simultaneously wanting the villains to lose, and as much as half the viewers are hating you and seeing you as the villain)
  8. If you are portrayed as a villain on such a show, the key is to find an even bigger villain, show how they’re hurting you, and create a major conflict between you and them
  9. Only outlandish, extreme behavior reaches a lot of new viewers and thus boosts ratings, and such behavior must be repeated next week if you want even more new viewers
  10. Being liked and considered good and classy kills ratings and viewers tune out, only tuning back in when there are bizarre and extreme attacks and controversies [in sports this is often achieved by bad behavior off the field and also by strong team rivalries and hatreds; the same is true for many actors and celebrities whose careers are in decline and they need to find a way back into the news]
  11. Only when you are strongly attacked will people really listen to you or care about you, and when you fight back effectively (i.e. in extreme ways) you will be admired by some and gain new support
  12. What happens on screen must be interesting enough that other TV shows and social media posts are inundated by people attacking you, and others defending you, or you aren’t going to win
  13. The more extreme attackers you can get to “gang up” on you, the more your supporters will line up to vocally defend you, and the more supporters you’ll get over time.

This formula can be weakened a bit by judges on shows where such judges have real power; but on TV shows where the viewers are the only judge, these rules become even stronger.

Now apply all this to politics, which is currently covered by the news media and posts on social media using these same reality-show rules. Add to this the tactic of  “baiting”, where one contestant wants to gain more supporters, so he/she attacks another person or group in an extreme way, in order to hopefully elicit an extreme reaction, which will in turn get a lot more supporters for himself/herself.

One reason this tactic is so effective is mentioned above: extreme controversy gets uninterested people to pay attention and take sides, and some of them will join your side.

But wait…some will join the other side too, so how does this actually help you?

Answer: When some new viewers join the other side, and some join your side, you don’t gain much. But when you bait multiple people and groups, incentivizing some to join you and others to join those you attack, you gain support with every controversy, but those joining your enemies typically join ONE person or group you attacked, while not emotionally joining the entire other SIDE.

Specifically, for example, when president Trump baits Nancy Pelosi and then later baits Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and then later Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders, and then CNN, etc., he gains more supporters every time–depending on the level of controversy and intensity of attacks by him and against him. But while each controversy also gains supporters for each of the attacking entities, they aren’t united. Indeed, many who take Pelosi’s side really dislike Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and vice versa. Many who take Joe Biden’s side don’t like Bernie Sanders, and vice versa.

In fact, these smaller factions often try to tear down each other as much or even more than they try to denigrate the president. But ALL the new supporters gained by the president in each separate controversy give more to support him. At the same time, this pattern creates the feeling that everyone is ganging up on the president, engendering more sympathy, stronger emotions of support by his base, and more new supporters who dislike that he’s being ganged up on and also new supporters who like the way he stands up, all alone, to the gang that is piling on against him.

See the Whole Board

This is the same formula utilized in most popular high-action movies, viz. Chuck Norris, John Wayne, The Rock, Rocky and Rambo, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mission Impossible, Bruce Willis, Captains Kirk and Picard, Black Panther, Wonder Woman, James Bond, The Matrix, the Flash, Jason Bourne, Avengers, etc. It’s the same pattern outlined in steps 1-13 above. Superheroes and superheroines stand against all odds, despite personal struggles or individual character flaws, and battle for what they believe in, suffer attacks and are hurt, and keeping fighting anyway, until they eventually win over evil.

Indeed their personal weaknesses, shortcomings, mistakes or character flaws almost always endear them to their supporters, because the “heroes” stand up against the attacking enemies even though they themselves are flawed and far from perfect. Think Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, or Bruce Wayne.

Ronald Reagan was great at creating this heroic “reality” in the public mind, so was president Obama. JFK impressively did it before “reality shows” were even a thing. Bob Dole and Michael Dukakis were terrible at it, as was John Kerry. Kissinger was good at it, and Al Gore understood it and tried to do it, but couldn’t quite pull it off.

Neither George Bush was very good at it either, nor was Jimmy Carter. Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders didn’t do it well; Chris Christie is great at it, but not quite as good as Trump. Bill Clinton mastered it, but Hillary struggled—just didn’t quite get it, mainly because she wanted to “be liked” too much.

This appears to be the same reason Jeb Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney couldn’t use it very well—the extreme attack, the relentless controversy, the bizarre media battles, and purposely getting half the nation to hate you so the other half would support you, just wasn’t their thing. They wanted everyone to like them. Donald Trump is more interested in winning than being liked, and he is even better at reality-show tactics than Bill Clinton.

Joe Biden tries, but so far isn’t very good at it. But the real issue is whether the American people understand these tactics and recognize when they are being employed. Those who dislike Trump consider such reality-TV tactics lacking in taste, class, and decency, but tend to admire the same tactics when launched by those from their side of the aisle. Trump supporters who understand this tactic generally wink and laugh when the president so effectively employs it against the Left, but they frown when it is used by Nadler, Schiff, Pelosi, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Stephen Colbert, Robert De Niro, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

One way to quickly recognize this tactical approach is simple: Whatever tonight’s mainstream news is openly attacking about Donald Trump, go see how he baited it. See what person or group he’s baited, and how the news media is sucked into spreading his plan for their response of “zealous, extreme outrage” far and wide.

The more angry and adamant the news reports, the more effective his tactic. One little group of his opposition grows, but his support grows even more, bit by bit over time. Then watch his approval ratings a week later–both among his base, and overall. The ratings almost always increase a bit after a major controversy where he baits someone and then the mainstream media attacks him.

The more extreme the attack, the more he usually benefits. An important longterm question is: can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez master these same reality-show tactics? (Think 2020, 2022, and 2024 House and Senate elections; and the 2028 presidential race.) So far, she’s rivaled Trump in this reality-TV-style tactical arena. Some might argue that she’s even better at it.

As for 2020, a salient question is whether Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren (or any other candidate) can dominate reality-show tactics more effectively than Trump? Though the election cycle is just beginning, Kamala so far seems very adept with these tactics. Measuring effectiveness according to these tactics, Kamala is right now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Think Several Moves Ahead

Finally, why do such tactics work? The answer is deeply rooted in human history, perhaps even in our ancestral/emotional DNA. Stories are our deepest language, and stories of the the underdog battling for what’s right, against evil, protecting the little guy against the “dark” forces of might and massive power, especially against all the odds, while being attacked from all sides, are ingrained in our collective experience.

The Left tries to use this same plotline against Trump (the plight of illegal immigrants), while the Right turns it against his opponents (the rising sinister forces of socialism). Each time the president baits anyone on the Left, or even the Right, the mainstream media’s response is so extreme, so howlingly mimicking the voices of an angry mob, that they make him look like the besieged warrior standing alone, refusing to stop believing or fighting for what he thinks is right.

In any plotline from reality TV or movies (or literature), the figure cast in such a role is always the hero. Regardless of the words spoken by the “sides,” year after year, with each night’s news, this narrative remains firm. And it grows each time it is broadcast, reinforced with every new and different situation.

In 2016 Trump inhabited this image, this feeling, more effectively than anyone else. In 2020? We’ll see. But so far the mainstream media is absolutely addicted to repeating this narrative every day, every evening, every newscast. And the president makes sure they keep doing it. It might possibly be that only someone who does it better, whatever their politics, can displace him.

The real issue, as mentioned, is whether or not we as citizens understand this—when it is utilized by Trump, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, or anyone else on the Left or Right.

It is our job to oversee and guide our nation’s future. We can only do this if we are playing chess, not checkers—clearly seeing through spin from all sides and immediately/consistently recognizing what is bait and what imagery is portrayed in every controversy.

Those playing “checkers” will hear the roar of the mainstream media criticizing a political figure and belief that he/she is on the ropes; those who actually understand what is happening clearly know that such noise communicates the exact opposite.

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