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Statesmanship

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 – 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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THE JEFFERSON-MADISON DEBATES: Can the Constitution Survive?

July 17th, 2019 // 8:20 am @

PART I

European “Conservatism” and American “Conservatism” are not the same thing.[i] It’s important to realize that “conservatism,” in the generic, isn’t defined as a specific platform or set of ideals. It’s simply the posture and priority of “conserving” a certain tradition or form, as opposed to liberally or “progressive-ly” moving away from said tradition or form.

As George Will has pointed out, in Europe “Conservatism” was rooted in protecting monarchy, aristocracy, and the class system (where the many are ruled by the few), while in America “Conservatism” means protecting and maintaining the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which it was framed, including the key principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence.[ii] Indeed the Declaration itself initiated the end of European Conservatism in America.[iii]

The tug-of-war between American Conservatism and Progressivism has been part of the American story ever since.[iv] Progressivism has gone through several stages–all of them a direct and escalating attack on the Constitution:

Step 1- Statism: Increase the size and scope of the government

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Step 3- Liberalism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent to the lower classes by state force

Step 4- Socialism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent and middle classes to the lower classes by state force, putting control of the federal government in the hands of a few, and also mandate social and environmental causes that require the federal government to grow even more

Step 5- Globalized Socialism: Expand progressive goals to include federal government programs for people around the globe (not limited to American citizens), requiring a massive expansion of government size and scope and progressive transfers of power and sovereignty from the American voters (and voters within other nations) to international organizations, agreements, and entities

We are currently in the High-Growth Phase of Step 4 and the Early-Growth Phase of Step 5.

PART II

American Conservatism, in contrast, focuses on implementing the U.S. Constitution, a return to Constitutional limited government (to the extent that we’ve moved away from the Constitution), and a citizenry that rules itself rather than being ruled by a class of elites.[v] Today the battle between Conservatism and Progressivism is in full swing.

To measure which side is ahead in this contest, the scoreboard is a simple two-question matrix:

  • Is the size, scope, debt, and expenditure of the federal government shrinking?

If “Yes,” Conservatism is winning.

  • Is the size, scope, debt, and expenditure of the federal government expanding?

If “Yes,” Progressivism is winning.

This is the only real indicator of direction, momentum, and victory. Every other possible marker can be faked or obscured. What this scoreboard shows is that the following administrations in the modern era have increased American Progressivism (thus decreasing Conservatism/Adherence to the U.S. Constitution):

  • Roosevelt
  • Truman
  • Eisenhower
  • Kennedy
  • Johnson
  • Nixon
  • Ford
  • Carter
  • Reagan
  • Bush
  • Clinton
  • Bush
  • Obama
  • Trump

In contrast, the following administrations reduced the scope, size and expenditure of the Federal Government, increasing American Conservatism and adherence to the U.S. Constitution:


NONE


This comes as a surprise to many conservatives. Indeed, this reality makes it clear which approach is winning: Progressivism. But surely some of the more conservative administrations at least significantly slowed down the increasing scope, size and expenditure of government, right?

The following administrations significantly slowed these things down:


NONE


This must have been caused by the opposing liberal Congress faced by certain administrations, right? The following administrations attempted to significantly slow the increase of the Federal Government’s size, scope, and expenditure, but were thwarted by the Congress:


NONE


At first glance, for conservatives at least, this doesn’t seem to make sense. Clearly there is a big difference between some of the administrations, that of Carter and Reagan for example, or Obama and Trump. While this is true, the actual differences are not what most people tend to think.

Where the genuine application of Conservative principles often results in significant benefits to the nation, the overall trend since 1944 can only be characterized as firmly escalating in the direction of Progressivism. The nation has occasionally profited from a short-term implementation of Conservative principles (e.g. Eisenhower, Reagan, Trump), but this has not resulted in a reversal of the Progressive trend.

Moreover, during this entire timeline, Progressive momentum has accelerated. It has never reversed. Conservatism (protection and application of the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional limits) has given way to Progressivism (the expansion of the welfare state and the size/scope of the central government) during every administration in the post-World War II era.

A more accurate understanding of these trends is possible if we consider the dominant Steps of Progressivism implemented in modern American history. This allows us to more clearly rate the Conservatism vs. Progressivism of each administration:

Dominant Focus of Washington D.C. from 1860-1913

Step 1- Statism: Increase the size and scope of the government

Dominant Focus of Washington D.C. from 1913-1944

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Dominant Focus During the Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton administrations

Step 3- Liberalism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent to the lower classes by state force

Dominant Focus During the Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Trump administrations

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Dominant Focus During the Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama administrations

Step 4- Socialism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent and middle classes to the lower classes by state force, putting control of the federal government in the hands of a few, and also mandate social and environmental causes that require the federal government to grow even more

Dominant Focus of the Current Left since 2016

Step 5- Globalized Socialism: Expand Progressive goals to include federal government programs for people around the globe (not limited to American citizens), requiring another massive expansion of government size and scope and progressive transfers of power and sovereignty from the American voters (and people within other nations) to international organizations and entities

PART III

There are at least three significant considerations in all of this that every American needs to understand:

  1. None of the presidential administrations in the post-World War II era have implemented Conservatism (the genuine application of Constitutional limits). All have supported the Progressive agenda at some level (increase of the size and scope of the federal government beyond its Constitutional boundaries, including an expansion of the welfare state). Some administrations promoted this more than others. But all are complicit in Progressivism, while none adhered to Conservatism as defined above (the Application of all Constitutional Limits, versus Increasing the Scope, Size, and Expenditure of Government).
  2. Presidents considered by many to be the most “Conservative” (including Eisenhower, Reagan, Trump) promoted Step 2 Progressivism but not Step 3 Progressivism. Specifically, they actively increased the size and scope of the federal government, but didn’t drastically increase redistribution of money/programs from the affluent to the lower classes by state force. This led to economic upturn through deregulation—a good result. It did not, however, reverse the momentum of the welfare state or reinvigorate Constitutional limits; as a consequence, the trend toward bigger government and increased Progressivism continues unabated.
  3. Presidents widely considered the most Progressive (Roosevelt, Johnson, Obama) implemented Step 4 Progressivism (socialism: major redistribution from the upper and middle classes to government programs nominally for the poor and disadvantaged) and drastically increased the growth rate of the long-term Progressive trend. This always coincided with major (albeit medium-length) economic downturn.

There has been no genuinely Conservative presidential administration (one focused on maintaining the limited size and scope of government to the specific limitations of the Constitution) since presidents Harding and Coolidge in the 1920s. All administrations since that time have promoted an expansion of the federal government in size, scope, and expenditure. The growing welfare state (Progressivism) has continually won out over Constitutional limits (Conservatism).

This has been aided by a number of decisions in the Court expanding the scope of the federal government and naming many additional federal powers “constitutional”. Ironically, such decisions are, according to the original words of the Constitution, unconstitutional.[vi]

PART IV

Why?

Why have all administrations since the mid-1920s joined the Progressive trend, even while many have loudly proclaimed their “bona fide Conservatism”? The answer may be as simple as that suggested by George Will[vii]: Most Americans actually like a lot of our government programs. And today we want more of them, not less. We want programs for “other people” to be cut or discontinued, but we tend to cling to government programs that directly benefit us.

Irony is at work here. On the one hand, voters seem to want freedom—but within limits. Specifically, they want more freedom for themselves than for others. And they want government programs—also within limits. The masses want something that has never been a reality—the quality levels attained by private schools, private institutions of higher education, private health care, and private-sector prestige jobs, provided free to all by government, and paid for by “the rich”–“the 1 Percent”.

Another way to describe our situation is that Progressivism has largely won the battle for the hearts and minds of most Americans. The Conservative ethos—that government should protect our freedoms by adhering to the U.S. Constitution, and give us nothing else, nothing at all, because the rest is up to us alone, our individual hard work, tenacity, initiative, ingenuity and good choices—is now largely a foreign concept.[viii] It is as quaint in our cities, and beyond, as vinyl records or public payphones. We want government to do things for us—lots of things. “How else will it get done?” most Americans now ask.

A majority of Americans now want to work less, make more, and receive a lot of extra government benefits paid for by someone else. If that’s what it means now to be an American, then America is on the path to major decline.[ix] And perhaps the most shocking point: Almost nobody is arguing about this.

We argue about whether or not such government benefits should go to illegal aliens. Some say “Yes, of course. Be generous”, while others respond “No way! Don’t make me pay for their needs. What about Americans, what about our needs?” But both sides miss the deeper issue. Again, most Americans now want to work less, get paid more, and receive a lot of extra government programs paid for by someone else. As long as this is our agreed-upon worldview, we’re in decline, and sinking fast.

We have, on one side, those who want more government benefits for everyone. Another side wants fewer government programs/expenditures for those who aren’t Americans.

But where are those who refuse all benefits that the government offers to them, preferring freedom? —the citizens who want to stand on their own, to make their own way without government help, who want to actually be free? Where are those kind of Americans today?

Without them, American-style Conservatism is extinct. Without them, Progressivism has won.

Most modern Americans want independence without having to select the choices that make them independent. “With all the taxes I pay, I’m not going to turn down government benefits.” The problem is, at its root, that government forces us to pay for the welfare state, whether we accept any of its benefits or not. For most people, as a result, rejecting the benefits appears illogical, even stupid. And they’re right.

But can the Constitution survive such a populace? If the masses want to work less, make more, and refuse to reject government benefits, the government will continue to grow. Limited constitutionalism is already over, in such a world.

Prediction: Unless this changes, we will only elect those promising the easy path, and we will vote ourselves consistently into decline. The Republican Party will oscillate between Progressive Steps 2 and 3, while the Democrat Party will swing back and forth between Progressive Steps 4 and 5. Regardless of which side wins elections, the federal government will keep expanding. Freedom will be redefined, redirected, and reduced, and eventually it will disappear, following the long-established pattern of great power nations.[x]

There is, of course, a solution. It is called limited government. It is outlined in the United States Constitution.

First: the federal government must be held to the twenty powers (only 20!) outlined in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Second: the Executive branch and its agencies must be required (by the voters, and all those they elect) to actually follow the Constitution. Third: the Court must also be required to follow the Constitution (by the voters, and all those they elect), without dodging this duty by claiming that it can simply redefine the document whenever it wants.

The voters have all the power to make these three things happen.

We have the blueprint. It will work, if the voters demand it.

But it will only work if the voters demand it.


*How can we get regular citizens to be this kind of voter? The answer is outlined in the book LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille. In LeaderShift you’ll learn the 5 Laws of Declining Nations, why America is currently failing all 5 Laws, and what to actually do about it. Find out how to get America back on track for the long term!

Available here>>


NOTES

[i] See George Will, 2019, The Conservative Sensibility

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] See Russell Kirk, 1974, The Roots of American Order

[iv] See Arthur Schlesinger, 1986, The Cycles of American History

[v] See op cit., Kirk; see also W. Cleon Skousen, 1985, The Making of America

[vi] The Constitution of the United States, Article III; see also Madison, Hamilton, Jay, 1989, The Federalist, Papers 78, 80, 83

[vii] See op cit., Will

[viii] See Oliver DeMille, 2014, The U.S Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom

[ix] See Orrin Woodward, 2014, And Justice for All; see also Jonah Goldberg, 2018, Suicide of the West; see also Thomas Sowell, 2007, A Conflict of Visions

[x] See Paul Kennedy, 1987, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

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

THE JEFFERSON-MADISON DEBATES: A New Cold War is Coming PART II

June 11th, 2019 // 7:41 am @

What Americans Can Do To Effectively Protect American Freedoms in the Decades Just Ahead

(Book Review of American, by Shanon Brooks)

Note to reader: read Part I of this report here >>


I. The Challenge

The 21st Century is shaping up as an era of major conflict, between (1) the three superpowers (the U.S., Russia, and China) and their allies and proxies (the European Union, Israel, North Korea, Iran, etc.), and also between (2) the Red- and Blue-state cultures that are further dividing America. If the U.S. doesn’t fix the problem (2) above, it will almost certainly lose the first battle (1) to China and/or Russia.

But what can regular Americans actually do? What will really work?

The three most effective things Americans can do to maintain our freedoms, families, and leadership in an increasingly dangerous world are:

  1. Spread great, classics- and freedom-based, leadership education
  2. Engage entrepreneurialism, the key to free enterprise, and encourage/help others to do the same
  3. Vote correctly and influence other voters to do the same (to protect and increase freedoms), and effectively influence government between elections

The battle for world leadership will come down to how well Americans do these three things. If we don’t win this battle, the world by 2040 will likely be run by two superpowers: China and Russia. Freedom values will be at odds with the rest of the world, and greatly reduced in the United States. Socialism will be the norm from the California redwoods to the beaches of Florida, from the Midwest to the Plains, and from the Rockies to Maine, in the cities and farms, and across all fifty states. Many of our most cherished freedoms will be reduced, or stolen.

How can we ensure that this doesn’t happen? A new book addresses this very question. This may be one of the most important books of our time; if we read and understand it, and take the right action, the future of America, our freedoms, our economy and our families, will be bright. If we don’t take the needed action…freedoms will be lost, socialism will spread, and families will suffer.

The book is titled simply, and sagely, American.

II. The Journey

Indeed, the title says it all. Written by Shanon Brooks, American gets to the heart of the problem, and the solutions. As Brooks puts it: “…we are killing the American Dream. Out of the top 30 countries in the world, the U.S. ranks 16th in literacy…and 14th in problem solving.”

Does that sound like a superpower? Or more like a past leader currently in decline? If we’re only 14th in problem solving, how can we truly expect to lead in the decades ahead, to tackle and solve our greatest problems, to help lead the world as it faces and overcomes the challenges ahead?

But the problem is even more daunting. Brooks wrote:

“National unfunded obligations are more than $100 trillion while U.S. household debt is at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion. We have one of the most litigious societies in the world, our incarceration rate is among the highest globally, and our state and federal legislatures are convinced that they are our cradle-to-grave caretakers.”

Unless something changes soon, and in major ways, we are not on the path to increased freedoms or economic opportunities for our children or grandchildren. In fact, we are quickly headed in the opposite direction.

As Brooks notes:

“How can we claim that America is the greatest nation in the world when 60% of our population can’t even pass the U.S. citizenship test? What have we done with the legacy of liberty that the founders so carefully crafted for us? And what are we creating to pass down to our children and grandchildren?”

The problem is real. The divide between those who even care about freedom and those who don’t is quickly expanding. And the root of the problem is at the very core of our daily lives: how we are educated, how we make a living, and how we participate (and don’t participate) as citizens overseeing and governing our own nation. As Travis Slade notes in the preface to American: “Pretty much everything about how we live today is killing the American Dream.” He’s right. And this book, American, is much more than a handbook on the principles of freedom—it’s all about how to apply those principles in the world today, in this economy, given the reality of the world we actually live in. Along the way, it addresses real issues across the board, including:

  • Our Decaying Education System
  • Our Work Life—Pros and Cons
  • The Way People Vote and Otherwise Participate (or don’t) in Overseeing Our Government
  • Commercial and Residential Construction
  • The Health Care Industry
  • The Transportation Industry
  • The Food and Grocery Industry
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • The Issues of Immigration
  • The Regulation State versus Free Enterprise
  • Socialism versus Investment
  • Employee versus Owner Mindsets
  • Federal Government Overreach
  • …Etc.

American asks us to seriously consider a number of poignant questions, questions that our national school/education system has patently taught us not to ask—or even think about in any meaningful way.

For example: “How can the American Dream be alive when each new American baby…inherits $300,000 of national debt…?”

And “…bureaucracy so deep and stifling that most just give up and give in.”

This book describes an America the Framers wouldn’t even recognize, a nation deeply entrenched in a bureaucratic quagmire the likes of ancient Byzantium, with a few celebrities, wealthy super elites, and top government officials (and their families) enjoying benefits akin to a medieval Venetian aristocracy.

And we call this “American?” It isn’t. It was supposed to be different. It was designed to be different. But only the people are capable of keeping our freedoms, as the Framers warned. No elites will save us. It is up to regular Americans.

III. Solutions

The best part of American is the solutions. I won’t spoil the book by listing them all here, or going into detailed applications and strategies, but they cut right to the heart of the matter, skipping symptoms and focusing on what we really need to do in order to steer things in the right direction. If we want real freedom, and effective results, we’re going to have to act. Brooks outlines what we need to do, and how to get started.

Specifically, as mentioned above, this book emphasizes the three major things we need to influence, change, and improve if America is going to survive as an effective beacon of freedom—in the world, and at home to the rising generations.

First, the right kind of education. Second, the right choices in the way we as a people make a living. And third, the way we vote—what goes into our voting decisions and the way we train up young people to be wise voters—and the ways we actively participate in governing our nation between elections.

Ultimately, these three things boil down to the quality of our learning, the kind of education we share, support, and pass on to our children and especially our young adults. If we get this right, the rest will follow. If not, our freedoms are very much in danger. America simply cannot survive three more generations of education like what we currently have.

We actually have two education systems in modern America, one for elites and those who work as the elites’ advisors, professionals, and managers, and another for the masses. Most Americans attend the second type of schools; the result is that America now educates mostly followers. This hard-to-hear reality is, nonetheless, true. It is time to face it openly, and change it. American is not just a great book on freedom and leadership, but an excellent book on higher education, right up there with Henry Newman’s great classic The Idea of a University, The Higher Learning in America by Robert Hutchins, An Education for Our Time by Josiah Bunting, and The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. Brooks benefitted from the ideas in all of these, and many others, and as a result American is the best book on higher education that I have ever read.

Every American who cares about freedom and our future should read it. And every American should care about freedom and our future.

Perhaps most importantly, Brooks’ book will introduce the reader to a number of very important ideas and principles that are seldom discussed anymore—in schools, homes, churches, or places of business, and certainly not by the media—but were once understood, cherished, and debated by every free American. The early Americans taught these things to their children, and were ashamed if any of their children couldn’t articulate these principles of freedom and life fluently and in detail. Such principles constitute the bulk of chapters 1 through 10 in American. Knowing them fully, and understanding how to apply them in society, was once considered crucial to being an American. They have now been almost entirely lost, and with them many of our freedoms. To reboot our freedoms, we must understand these vital principles and ideas.

It is time for us to know them. To pour over them, and to master them. To share them, teach them, talk about them, debate them, and apply them. It is past time. We cannot wait any longer. We must act. Again, our freedoms and the future of our posterity are at stake. If we get the freedom principles right, if we understand and effectively implement them, we will be another generation of American heroes. If not, the candle of American freedom will be snuffed out.

This is true. This is real. This is happening.

Not every person will apply the things learned in American the same way. Or even agree on every specific. This is the way it should be—free people applying principles differently, based on personal mission. But all of us should learn them. Know them. Ponder, discuss, and apply them as inspired.

It is time.

To act…

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THE JEFFERSON-MADISON DEBATES: A New Cold War is Coming – PART I

June 3rd, 2019 // 6:14 pm @

The 3 Superpowers and The State of the World Right Now

(WHAT EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW)

America isn’t supposed to act this way, the experts say. After all, we invented the liberal international order—the growing sprawl of international organizations, treaties, and laws that all nations are eventually supposed to join, and follow.

Founded in 1917, 1921, 1944 and almost every year since, Internationalism, now usually called Globalism, is America’s biggest export. More than freedom. More than apple pie. More than movies, even. But this whole arrangement has been turned on its head in the era of Brexit and Trump.

I: The United States

The two most powerful enemies of Globalism, Russia and China, once had a clear path to success—to slow down the growth of Globalism, slow down America and it’s NATO allies, and thereby increase their own status. For that matter, between 1944 and 2017, most U.S. policy makers had the same approach: spread U.S. influence by supporting the expansion of Globalism. Globalism itself was built on three main pillars:

  1. An “acronym salad” of international organizations (from the UN to the IBRD [World Bank] and IMF, from the World Court, the G7 and G8, to the GATT and eventually the World Trade Organization, etc.)
  2. Free trade agreements
  3. Collective security arrangements

By the 1980s, Internationalism dominated the U.S. government and universities; anything that differed from the aims of Internationalism was decried by experts as dangerous isolationism. When I was in college, for example, and wanted to study Political Science, multiple professors assured me that “Political Science is outdated; study International Relations–that’s the future.” The U.S. State Department and a host of foreign policy professionals in our universities convinced three generations (1964-2016) that Internationalism [and later Globalism] equals freedom, and that the U.S. is just one part of Globalism (along with a bunch of other nations)–not its indispensable leader.

This all changed with the advent of Brexit, followed by the surprising (to the “mainstream thinking”) election of Donald Trump.

According to one expert:

“Although future presidents will try to restore the classical version of U.S. foreign policy [Globalism], in all likelihood, it cannot be returned.”

(Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019, p. 10)

Why? Because President Trump is patently against free trade agreements that are built on Globalism rather than economic benefits for Americans, and against international organizations that sap American power and resources without giving back commensurate benefits to American citizens.

For the foreign policy establishment, this is heresy. After more than 70 years of trying to convince world leaders to join Globalism, Trump’s rejection of the Globalist system will probably make it impossible for heads of state to trust future U.S. assurances of Globalism. After all, as 2016 proved, a single election can significantly reverse, and even erase, seven decades of U.S. policy. This is what the American Framers intended, but it is anathema to the current foreign policy establishment.

As another article in the same issue of Foreign Affairs put it: “Can the State Department be Saved?” Short answer: No. The State Department is based on Globalism, and Globalism can be rejected by the American people in any given presidential election. The world is changed. Forever. The main reason given for this shift is interesting: the American people don’t trust “experts” anymore. (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019, p. 14).

A secondary reason is that foreign policy experts worked very hard (from 1944 to 2016) to transfer increasing levels of power to the office of the Presidency, shifting it slowly over time from the Legislative Branch. (See ibid.) Turns out changing the Constitution in this backroom fashion has unintended consequences for the progressives who championed it.

II: Russia and China

Image Source: The National Interest

This drastic change is a shock for both Russia and China. Putin built his administration as the biggest outlier and opponent of Globalism, with a “Russia First” approach. [Richard Sakwa, 2019, Russia’s Futures]

As one Russia expert put it, Putin’s main goal for two decades has been to “Make Russia Great Again.” (Ibid.) The focus of this agenda was to keep Russia strongly in control of its own future by resisting Globalism as an ideology and Globalist international organizations in specific. Putin accomplished this by resisting the West at every turn, but simultaneously allowing Globalism to grow so that Western economies could continue to purchase Russian oil and other products.

Thus Trump and Putin agree on a general policy: “My Nation First”. But they are directly adversarial, because one wants to put the U.S. above the Liberal International Order and the other seeks to put Russia above Globalism and Globalist institutions. Same goal—opposite direction.

The two presidents have also employed very different means to achieve their goals. Trump’s main strategy has been to deregulate the U.S. economy, allowing increased economic freedom to reboot finance, commerce, entrepreneurship, and production; Putin’s major agenda has been a massive centralization of power to the office of President, i.e. himself. Putin has, in twenty years of power, created another Russian autocracy, with centralized powers that some experts say rival, or perhaps exceed, those of Stalin.

China is also drastically centralizing power to President Xi, to the point that a number of China experts consider this a return to Mao-level dominance by one leader. But unlike Russia, China worked hard from 1989-2017 to increase its influence as part of the Globalist community. It even supported, at least superficially, a level of U.S. leadership in international organizations—always with the understanding that the U.S. could lead as long as it also paid most of the bill.

The State Department largely saw this as a positive, and promised/fulfilled payments from U.S. taxpayers to numerous programs worldwide. At the same time, China frequently voted for these programs at the international level (again, as long as the U.S. was picking up the tab) and spent its own time and money buying up control of world natural resources in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. China now manages (by contract) more natural resources around the world than any other nation–far more than the United States. Ironically, communistic China preferred capitalist-style business contracts around the globe for water, food, oil, land and other natural resources, while U.S. claims to the same were usually negotiated by treaty and backed by arms rather than contract.

Today China, Russia and the United States are pulling away from each other, and all three are simultaneously pulling away from international organizations and the liberal Globalist Order. The future name of our era will likely be something like “The Return of Rivalry” (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019, p. 19) or a “New Cold War” (Op cit., Sakwa, 2019). As Richard Sakwa put it: “Russia and the Atlantic System [NATO plus…] are locked in confrontation.” Add China to the mix, and a new Age of Rivalry is here.

Further details are sobering. For example, unlike the situation during the original Cold War, there are numerous conflicting rivalries at play right now, including:

  • U.S./Russia – U.S./China
  • Russia/China
  • U.S./European Union
  • China/European Union
  • Russia/European Union
  • United Kingdom/European Union
  • Trump Administration/U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment (or, on the broader scale, Red/Blue culture)
  • U.S./North Korea (China proxy)
  • China/Taiwan (U.S. proxy)
  • U.S./Iran (Russia proxy)
  • U.S./Cuba (Russia proxy)
  • U.S./Nicaragua (Russia proxy)
  • U.S./any nation with natural resources contracted to China
  • Russia/any nation with natural resources contracted to China
  • European Union/any nation with natural resources contracted to China
  • Iran (Russia proxy)/Israel (U.S. proxy)
  • Syria (Russia proxy)/Israel (U.S. proxy)

Serious flashpoints ahead. Proxies can, of course, cause major problems between superpowers, for example the Korean War and Vietnam War, not to mention the proxy-conflict that sparked World War I.  Also, unlike the Red-Blue division in the United States that seems poised to create increased internal conflict in the years ahead, both China and Russia have consolidated powers, and the leading groups of influence within their respective nations are currently, and strongly, behind Xi and Putin. This solidarity is particularly surprising in Russia, where the four major power groups seldom agree on much, but right now concur that Russia should be less acquiescent to the United States and the West: “All four of the great interest-ideological blocs broadly support Putin…and indeed, the main criticism of three of them is that he has been too weak and accommodating to the West’s demands.” (Op. cit., Sakwa, 2019)

III: Dangers Ahead

If (when) any of the rivalries listed above escalates, each superpower will ultimately tend to fall back on its areas of strategic advantage. Every American should understand these advantages, for all three superpowers.

China: The Chinese strategic advantages are access to natural resources, manpower for traditional military conflict, and a tightly centralized command structure. Note that the latter isn’t an advantage for freedom, but during conflicts it is a distinct strategic benefit. China is built for outlasting the enemy, holding on and waiting for opponents to tire out, burn out, or give in. Anyone engaging a major conflict with China needs to be prepared for the long haul—and plan in terms of multiple decades rather than years.

United States: If the conflict is dominated by economics, a non-regulation-oriented Administration paired with an enterprising U.S. culture is a serious short-, medium-, and long-term advantage. (A high-regulation Administration would cancel this advantage.) In a major conflict, incentivizing the entrepreneurialism of the populace will be the major key to American victory, or even stalemate.

Russia: If the battle turns violent, Russia will be tempted to rely on the advantage of its nuclear arsenal. Indeed, in today’s New Cold War, Russia finds itself facing a very different situation than during the 1950s-1980s. At least four significant differences could change everything:

  1. Russia today doesn’t have the allies the USSR had. (Op. cit., Sakwa, 2019)
  2. China is a third superpower, complicating the whole situation, especially since it is geographically adjacent and shares the world’s largest militarized border with China. (Ibid.)
  3. U.S. deregulation of domestic oil production since 2016, and other contemporary increases in oil production around the world have reduced petroleum as the major income stream it once was for the USSR/Russia. (See ibid.)
  4. Cyber weapons are a new reality, something both China and Russia are endeavoring to master. (See ibid.)

These four shifts in geopolitics strongly increase Russia’s dependence on nuclear weapons as its main, if not only, strategic advantage. This is dangerous. And this rivalry is just heating up.

Conclusion

For the United States, the greatest danger probably won’t come from lack of resources or a nuclear attack—both can be effectively deterred by strong and unified leadership—but rather by the growing chasm between Red and Blue culture.

The worst-case scenario for U.S. national security in the Twenty-First Century may well be a pattern of yo-yo elections (Op cit, Foreign Affairs, 2019), four years Red followed by four years Blue in the Oval Office, repeating again and again. Four years isn’t enough to truly reboot the economy and military (Red agenda), or restructure the economy on more collectivist and regulatory lines to increase social equality (Blue agenda). To build one agenda for four years, then tear it down for four years, over and over, will almost certainly guarantee American weakness and long-term economic/security decline. An eight-year cycle would be less extreme, but still bad. This yo-yo pattern is also, unfortunately, the most likely scenario given current trends in America. (Ibid.)

Great superpowers are seldom conquered from without. Instead, they fight internally, causing their own decline from within. This is precisely what we are witnessing right now. The election of 2020, and even more tellingly the election of 2024, will signal which of the following paths we are pursuing:

  • A U.S./China dominated world in the year 2040, or,
  • A Russia/China dominated world in the year 2040

Americans must take action to effectively protect American freedoms and superpower leadership in an increasingly dangerous world.

What we as citizens can actually do, and how to do it, will be addressed in Part II of this Special Report, to be published next week.

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