The Dawn of An Era, Part 1: Trump’s Inaugural Address

Welcome to The Dawn of An Era, which will be a multi-part look at the current state of affairs as we enter the Trump era, and the impact Trump will have based on his stated campaign aims and what he has already accomplished. As I write, we are a week into the administration, and things are moving at an electric pace. Executive orders are being signed left and right, and for the most part Trump has delivered on the campaign promises he made.

This has not come without dissent. There was a massive anti-Trump march which had its nexus in Washington DC, but had several hundred counterparts both in the US and around the world. The news media has been in a constant battle with Trump from the word go, and the Democrats have vowed to be obstructionists.

The reason for the dissent on a basic level is that President Trump is seeking to upset the social, economic and geopolitical order. It is an order that was established in the years following World War 2 and has persisted since. Though many see this order to be futile, in terms of long term sustainability, it has not necessarily collapsed to such a blatantly obvious crisis point that even the most visually challenged could recognize that change was needed. This series will focus on Trump and his quest to affect change, much needed, but highly unpopular.

We’ll start with the Inaugural Address.

Stylistically, President Trump’s first words as President Trump were Trumpian in nature. His address was forceful, direct, and didn’t mince words. The delivery was not the silkiest, smoothest delivery we’ve come to expect from our most accomplished politicians. There was little room for the extravagant language, endless platitudes and anecdotal accounts which color modern political speeches of this nature. Many criticized this, comparing Trump’s address past Inaugurals. “This was no JFK or Reagan,” they would say.

These critics are the same who, for seemingly the entirety of Trump’s campaign, have been waiting for him to change his tone, to finally pander to the masses – to be Presidential. The inaugural became yet another in the list of moments, such as the acceptance speech at the convention, or his post-labor day campaigning, or the debates, when the infamous ‘pivot’ was meant occur. Indeed the initial consensus opinion was that it was a good speech – for his supporters, which did little to embrace anyone else.

Why everyone was expecting such a pivot is beyond me. Trump didn’t even pivot at the Al Smith dinner, which is traditionally a moment when campaigning is put on hold for a night.  And that is the point – the time for traditional politics is over, to the extent it does not comport with the goal of Making America Great Again.

Trump made this crystal clear right from the start of the address, saying:

Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. We are grateful to President Obama and Michelle Obama. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony however has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to the other, but from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capitol has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington has flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.

This sentiment is easily verified by the widely accepted fact that by various measures, the American middle class household has not seen an increase in income in as long as 40 years, while 5 of the 10 richest counties in the country (including 5 of the top 6) are counties which surround Washington D.C. It is clear that Washington’s politics-as-usual has not been working for the rest of the country, and beyond that, DC has acted more like a leech sucking blood from the veins of the American economy than anything beneficial.

To this end, Trump ran on a campaign of ‘Draining The Swamp,’ focusing on ending the parasitical relationship DC politics has with the American people. He has issued an executive order banning administration officials from lobbying foreign governments for life and imposed a five year ban for other sorts of lobbying.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had previously voiced his opposition to such a ban, on the grounds that it would limit the opportunities for DC politicos to earn money after serving in office:

“I don’t think we should tell men and women we want a citizen legislature, take time out of your private life and come and serve and then go back into private life and you can’t get engaged in civics,” the speaker said. “I think that’s dangerous. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

That Ryan would equate getting involved in civics with lobbying, to the point it would be ‘dangerous’ to curtail that intertwining, is indicative of the deterioration of American politics, with respect to politicians looking out for the interests of their donors as opposed to that of their constituents as a whole.

Decades of this transfer of wealth, and the general primacy of DC politicians over everything else has drained America of its swashbuckling spirit, leaving it a shadow of itself. By that, I mean the US in many ways is just coasting along, as opposed to forging ahead with an undeterred grit. That the US is still the greatest country in the world is a testament to the unprecedented ingenuity displayed by those who came before us, such that their efforts were enough to sustain multiple generations.

This point sets the stage for one of the more controversial passages of the address:

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

The decline of stable marriages and the rise of single motherhood have created a situation in which more and more children in America are being raised in a less than ideal environment. Already off to a rocky start, they are further limited by a K-12 educational system which has been in decline for decades, and a higher educational system which reinforces this decline by failing to challenge intellectual deficiencies, instead opting for what feels good.

When these kids get out of school, saddled with tens of thousands in debt on average, they are thrust into an economy which under the hood is not as robust as it once was. The burdens of excessive regulation, taxes, and a refusal for central banks to allow prices to properly adjust to changing economic conditions  has created an situation in which employers have fled the country, leaving behind the carcasses of factories which once were the engine of America.

These, combined with a few other factors, have resulted in the lowest labor force participation rate in over 40 years. In particular, 10 million men of prime working age have economically disappeared, a rate which rivals the Great Depression.

The basic human debilitation of this combination of over indebtedness and a lack of work has led to many checking out of society. Marriage rates have declined, women are having fewer children and are having them later, and many men have all together checked out of the romantic game completely, preferring to satiate themselves with the sea of pornography and video games that are on offer.

Then there is the self-medication of drugs and prescription medicine. Suicides are on the rise. Drug overdoses are on the rise, and at least in terms of women, anti-depressant consumption is on the rise. While crime as a whole has fallen, it has risen in some inner cities, where the confluence of many of the aforementioned issues has been felt acutely.

The totality of all of this is the ‘carnage’ of which Trump speaks. Critics have scolded Trump for painting a picture of the United States having devolved into some sort of Mad Max style war zone; although for many select inner cities it may feel that way. And on the surface, things are fine. When you flip the light switch in your house, the room lights up. Most people have access to the internet and cable. The vast majority of Americans can grab a $5 latte at Starbucks any time they want.

It is true that in an absolute sense the United States is wealthier (as defined by having more ‘stuff’) and healthier (as defined by life expectancy) than ever before. But the term ‘Chiraq’ didn’t come out of thin air.

The problem, which Trump seemingly understands, is that much of the progress of recent decades wasn’t necessarily attained in the right way. That is, instead of savings and investment, through which a mass production of goods occurred, the resultant lowering of prices enabling mass consumption, the United States adopted a model by which it borrowed and printed trillions to buy goods produced in foreign factories.

Socially, a ‘modern family’ lifestyle promulgated by the entertainment industry has led to a sort of non-culture which is perhaps more diverse but also less cohesive. Hence, the progresses we have made in the last few decades have been unevenly distributed and fleeting.

That these shifts underpin the gains we’ve made in the modern era render them unsustainable. And on some level we collectively know this, which is why we sedate ourselves with Netflix, drugs, and porn. It’s hard to see a future when you’re inundated with student loans, still relying on your parents for money and without stable employment, even after doing everything your elders told you to do as you were growing up. If you believe your days will be spent moving from one cramped urban apartment to another, it makes sense to succumb to the aforementioned vices, and then some, to combat the banality of it all.

The result, as Trump correctly stated, is the theft of life and the American spirit, and the continued piling up of unrealized American potential.

Having laid out the problem, the address then looked forward, onto the mindset with which that problem would be dealt with: America First.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

[…]

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

This portion of the speech was also controversial, for its blatant nationalism. The likes of Bill Kristol, by now the poster child for the globalist neoconservative position, had this to say regarding the address:

I’ll be unembarrassedly old-fashioned here: It is profoundly depressing and vulgar to hear an American president proclaim “America First.”

The ‘vulgarity’ of the phrase no doubt stems from the original ‘America First’ movement led by Charles Lindbergh just prior to the US entry into WWII. He blamed British and Jewish interests for attempting to push the United States into war. For this he has been branded an Anti-Semite by History (though curiously nothing about any special hatred for the British).

I’m not going to re-litigate the issue here, but I will suggest that merely not wanting war for the US, no matter how much of a ‘no brainer’ it might be, does not necessarily classify one as a villain. Trump’s fierce nationalism has garnered similar charges of villainy from the globalist set – they view anything other than a society with no borders, multiculturalism and military interventionism as a crime to humanity.

In this sense, that last line about not seeking ‘to impose our way of life on anyone’ must have been extremely difficult to hear. For this has been the policy of the United States for nigh on 70 years. During that time, the US has tried her hand at Imperialism, attempting to overthrow dozens of foreign governments which were doing things it didn’t like. It spent trillions and amassed body counts in the millions, directly and indirectly, while showing little to no remorse.

All the while, on the home front, things remained fine on the surface, but underneath it a steady deterioration had begun, and continues to this day, as I’ve described.

The only beneficiaries of that paradigm have been the elites in politics, big business, Wall Street, and the infamous military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned about as he left office. Trump’s hyper nationalism is a repudiation of that dynamic. Trump continued:

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

One thing that struck me upon listening to the address was the spiritual nature imbued into it. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but referencing God and spirituality in a political sense that is more than just a token reference is a bit of a rarity. What Trump spoke to here was the fact that true unity comes from a common cause, the United States of America, a cause which in turn is furthered by the extent to which it accepts the direction of God.

The mere concept of a higher power, something beyond our individual existence to which we should strive to better ourselves, has become increasingly foreign in modern times. We have slowly succumbed to a putrid nihilism characterized by short term, molecular thinking and YOLOism.

Trump is right: when you all have the same basic goal, you have no room for hating the man standing next to you. To the extent you and your counterparts differ, they are generally how you are going to go about achieving the overarching goal. Those differences, in turn, come from differences in your basic constitution as human beings. The farmer, the mathematician and the banker all bring value to America, and their individual differences are only of value because they enable them to specialize in their respective fields, all directed towards a singular target, furthering America.

Contrast that sentiment to the words of the leader of the opposition in Congress, Chuck Schumer, who addressed the crowd moments before President Trump was sworn in:

We Americans have always been a forward-looking, problem-solving, optimistic, patriotic, and decent people. Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we’re immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty, we’re all exceptional in our commonly held yet fierce devotion to our country. And in our willingness to sacrifice our time, energy, and even our lives to making it a more perfect union.

Whereas Trump’s vision starts from a patriotic vision of country, striving for more, and trickles down to the individual who will make it happen, Schumer starts with the delineation of all the possible characteristics of the individual, working up to what is supposedly a common devotion to the country. Schumer’s pathway is nonsensical: if indeed all of those disparate groups have a burning devotion to achieving a lofty goal, the individual differences and characteristics are by definition irrelevant. Only the goal matters. Yet the deliberate focus on of all of these differences is itself an attempt to make them relevant, suggesting a unifying goal isn’t what is most important.

It is fitting that Schumer’s Ode to Identity Politics came in what was literally the final minutes of the Obama administration, which were (hopefully) the final minutes of the multi decade march of cultural Marxism and globalist views which have polluted Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

The forceful tenor of the Trump’s speech which followed was, in my view, akin to the loud smack of a judge’s gavel, signifying the finality of a decision. In this case, a decision to fundamentally change course, away from an America which had comfortably coasted on its laurels to one which as going to get its hands dirty once again with a view to achieving something greater.

That Trump made such an aggressive speech with Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama sitting mere feet from him was further symbolism. The latter three in particular have been stewards of the cultural and economic decline we are in the midst of, the legacy of which was the improbability known as ‘President Trump.’

The address was a stern declaration that we as a nation are going to turn this ship around, despite the odds, and despite the stern opposition from the ‘respectable class’, so represented by those former presidents who gazed upon Trump as he spoke. Because of them, the task Trump seeks to take on is perhaps more difficult than anything any modern president has had to achieve.

But the very fact Donald Trump was standing there to speak at all is testament to the fact that ultimate success in that Herculean task is in fact possible.

Trump vs The Media: Fake News Edition

Last week saw the latest round in the war between President-elect Donald Trump and the News Media, with the Jim Acosta exchange in particular drawing plenty of attention. In case you live in a cave somewhere and missed it, here it is:

That moment, brandishing a respected news organization such as CNN to be ‘fake news,’ was perhaps a seminal moment. It was the culmination of a brutal back and forth which has lasted the better part of two years. While both sides relish this fight, the media as a class have, at times tried to act as though they have been innocent victims of a brutish Trump.

They accuse Trump of threatening the freedom of the press, a concept uniquely American and central to our way of life. Referring to the press conference, Esquire writer Charles Pierce called Trump’s performance that of ‘an aspiring American dictator.’

All of this, because Donald Trump is the first politician on the right in decades who can attack and defend himself just as effectively as his ideological opponents in the press do, and then some. Some in the media are finally starting to take note of this, and are scrambling to make sense of it. For the last 18 months and more, the media has persisted with its tired tactic of screaming ‘RACIST! SEXIST! HOMOPHOBE!’ at those expressing any opinion to the right of Mao, only to find that Trump was impervious to this tactic when it was tried on him.

Having lost that battle on November 8, the press lurched to the next strategy – delegitimize Trump’s victory. This came about via the promotion of Jill Stein’s recount effort (which ended up in Trump gaining votes), the justification of violent anti-Trump rioting across the country, the justification for the Electoral College to ‘vote it’s conscience,’ the popular vote, and more emphatically, the idea that Trump is some sort of Manchurian Candidate, personally installed by Vladamir Putin.

It is this Russian meme specifically which led to the Acosta moment last Wednesday, as the night before Buzzfeed published an unsubstantiated ‘dossier’ comprised of material collected by Donald Trump’s political enemies, which was implied to have been real intelligence, and put forth as evidence that the Russians had a trove of blackmail material against Trump. (more here)

It was a document which had been floating around political and news media circles for months, and because of the fact that virtually none of it could be verified, it was never reported on, until Buzzfeed decided to introduce it to the world. This set off a firestorm, which culminated in an angry Trump lashing out at the media, and the intelligence community.

The Acosta moment has seemingly woken up the media properly to the idea of Trump as a real force to be reckoned with. The analysis so far has been summed up as ‘Trump is trying to destroy the media by divide and conquer. We must band together and fight him.’

Slate writer Will Oremus goes through this argument in detail. After describing the way Trump singled out CNN and Buzzfeed for scorn over their reporting on the ‘dossier,’ while praising other news organizations (specifically the New York Times) for not running it, he surmises that it is tactical. He writes:

Trump’s words were tactical, not literal. And his purpose became clear during the Q-and-A: to isolate and punish the two specific news organizations whose coverage he found objectionable.

It worked. BuzzFeed was so anathematized that by presser’s end, fellow journalists were picking up their lunch trays and moving to the other side of the cafeteria. “I can understand why President-elect Trump would be upset” with BuzzFeed, said CNN’s Jake Tapper, a co-author of the very story that had just been impugned in the press conference. “I would be upset about it, too.”

Trump had exploited weaknesses—not just the tendency of the press to eat itself, but also its own status anxieties. In particular, he exploited traditional media outlets’ intense desire to be perceived as sober and objective, and thus to be respected by conservatives and liberals alike—a business imperative that has been transmuted into an ethical injunction.

This last point is particularly interesting. The genesis of the battle between Trump and the press is the ideological differences between the two, as I mentioned above. In a very broad sense, Trump is a traditionalist and a nationalist. The vast majority of the press are left leaning, and thus embrace a cultural Marxist, globalist world view.

There is nothing wrong with each side harboring those views; however the press, by virtue of its purported role as a distillery for the truth, has much less room to imbue ideology and engage in opinion. That’s why Editorial Pages were invented, but it seems as though that the entirety of the mainstream media has become an Editorial page.

The reason the media desires to be thought of as completely rational and objective is that because if it is not, it becomes merely just another source of opinion in an ocean of opinions. Preserving the view that the media deals in cold, hard analysis of the truth allows it to float angelically above the rest of us.

The reality is that the media is as biased and as opinionated as the rest of us. Of the publications that most people immediately think of when one thinks of ‘respected news organizations’ (New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News), only Fox News and the WSJ do not lean demonstrably to the left.

Indeed, many would scoff at the fact that I even included Fox News in a list of ‘respected’ news publications given it its place in American society as the butt of jokes about objectivity. That the most right-leaning publication on this list also is subject to the most scorn is exactly the sort of isolation and punishment that Oremus accuses Trump of doing to Buzzfeed and CNN.

On the ‘status anxiety’ of the media in general, he writes:

There are status anxieties and resentments within the media just as surely as there are in the electorate, and on Wednesday, Trump deftly seized on them. Americans’ trust in media is at a low point, thanks in part to a highly effective conservative campaign to discredit mainstream outlets as biased. Fake news, a phrase coined to describe fabricated stories devised by hoaxsters, has become the default conservative epithet for historically respected institutions such as CNN and the Times. For journalists at those sorts of outlets, who worked for decades to reach the summit of their profession, nothing could be more deflating. It gives them a pressing incentive to distinguish and distance themselves from less-esteemed outlets, including upstarts such as BuzzFeed, whose “irresponsible journalism,” as CNN’s Tapper put it, “hurts us all.”

Oremus puts the blame for the increased perception of the media as biased on an effective conservative campaign. The reality is different. As mentioned before, the contrast between the cultural Marxist globalism of the left, and the traditionalist Nationalism of the Trump Right underpins the current ideological battle for hearts and minds.

To that end, it is the former viewpoint which has the most currency in modern culture. Concepts such as equality, diversity, and tolerance, as defined by leftists, are the highest ideals sought. This cultural Marixist, globalist view has risen to the level of being the objectively rational way to view the world. The media, in all of its forms, has aided this ascent what is really mere opinion to the level of perceived inviolable laws of humanity over the last three or four decades and more. Trump, who is considered to be in constant opposition to the achievement of these leftist-defined values, has thus become an enemy.

The result has been a sort of Clown World in which expressing a view which does not comport with leftist orthodoxy is a marker for insanity. In that world, the media, by virtue of being leftists, are afforded the position of veneration it seeks, as arbiters of Truth.

This is why the ‘campaign to discredit mainstream outlets’ necessarily has to come from conservatives. That conservatives and mainstream outlets are opposition says a lot – the latter can hardly paint themselves as truly objective if they wholly reject any conservative view to the point it is considered insanity to hold such views.

The ‘fake news’ saga Oremus refers to is indicative of this point. Oremus laments the fact that the term has been transformed from referencing made-up news stories by hoaxers to being used to criticizing anything conservatives don’t like. That would be a fair gripe, until one notices that it was the mainstream media who first used the ‘fake news’ terminology as one of the many excuses as to why Hillary Clinton lost the election.

Actual fake news, as in Macedonian pranksters writing stories about the Pope endorsing Trump and spreading it on Facebook, were hardly consequential in terms of shifting the electorate into voting for Trump. For a start, the actual fake news mostly resided in the realm of social media, the domain of the young, who are both smaller in number and turn out to vote at lower rates than their elders. Furthermore, these older generationsstill get most of their news from ‘traditional’ formats, such as television, radio and newspapers.

The mainstream outlets cleverly paired the ‘epidemic’ of fake news on social media with the rise of the ‘alt-right,’ inserting the likes of Breitbart, Infowars and others into the fray when the discussion of ‘legitimate news’ was being had. Consider this article from The Guardian, which leads with the following subheading:

The ‘alt-right’ (aka the far right) ensnared the electorate using false stories on social media.

In the aftermath of the election, lists like this one from a liberal professor were widely disseminated, but lumped opinion sites which leaned Right in with the fake news. This New York Times article in part disparaged Mark Dice, a YouTuber who regularly roasts progressives, in an article tiled ‘As Fake News Spreads Lies, More Readers Shrug at the Truth.’

In short, it was many left leaning, mainstream media voices that started using the term ‘fake news’ to reference any ‘hyper-partisan’ view from the right. The goal of that effort was to reestablish the Clown World Order I described earlier – Leftist views are objective reality, anything else, insanity. Such a drive was necessary thanks to the victory of Trump, a data point which called that Order into question in the most grand way possible.

To the extent there was a ‘conservative campaign’ to co-opt the ‘fake news’ terminology, it was merely a counterattack to this attempt to delegitimize non-left opinions. It succeeded because it had the truth on its side, in that leftists and rightist opinion is just that, opinion, and the mere fact that the former is in vogue does not render the latter to be illegitimate. Thus, the death of the term ‘fake news’ as a weapon.

Dossier-gate showcased a different sort of media warfare. CNN in particular went to great pains to justify its reporting, on the basis that it merely reported on the existence of said dossier, rather than the sordid details within.

However, by doing so, it made the existence of the document news, in a way in which hadn’t been done before. It was the equivalent of someone coming up to you and saying ‘hey, I know something that could totally change your life forever, but I can’t really tell you what it is.’ You’ve done that person no favors at all; in fact you’ve harmed that person by introducing something that will play on his or her mind until that secret information is revealed to them.

CNN may have not published the specific details, and even went to considerable lengths to repeat how unsubstantiated and unverified they were, but they did make it known exactly where such details could be found, nudge nudge, wink wink.

The goal was just to get the information out there in the public domain, because once there it could be used to stir up chaos. Remember, that this dossier was released after a lengthy campaign by the media and the intelligence community to paint Trump out as some sort of Russian state actor personally installed by Putin, a campaign which has been blared with unbearable loudness over the last few weeks in particular.

The Russians having compromising video of Trump cavorting with Russian prostitutes in The Ritz Carlton Moscow is fiction, but it is fiction that comports with the general post-election narrative of Trump-as-Manchurian Candidate, if you hold a predilection for that erroneous view. It allows the media to discredit Trump on the grounds that he was not legitimately elected, and in the future it allows the media to question any and every action of his it dislikes on the grounds that the action in question might be Trump just doing the bidding of the Russians.

Putin’s response to the dossier was classic, not because of him making light of the idea of Trump needing to indulge in prostitutes after having access to supermodels all his life, but for denouncing those who push the dossier as the worst sort of individuals:

Prostitution is an ugly social phenomenon… But those people who organize such frauds, which have been circulated and promoted against the elected president of the United States, those who fabricate information and use it in the political struggle, they are worse than prostitutes, they have no moral limits.

Putin is absolutely right. In citing the fabrication of information to use in a political fight, he describes the way the mainstream media generally does business with respect to those it opposes. More importantly, however, it draws the mainstream media into the realm of the same ‘fake news’ domain it sought to relegate others to. This is what worries the media the most, hence the seminal nature of the Acosta spat.

I’m not saying that the media prints outright lies, although it has happened before. What the media does do more frequently, however, is to deal in willful misinterpretation, editorializing, and intellectual dishonesty. This is the only way you get narratives such as ‘Russia hacked the election,’ or ‘Trump committed treason by imploring the Russians to breach US national security by attacking Hillary Clinton,’ or the intentional mention of ’17 US intelligence agencies’ in nearly every report about the Russian hacking saga, solely done to give undue weight to what would follow, which was a statement of unverified opinion about who hacked what. It has been repeatedly stated that not one vote was tallied incorrectly, and Trump’s ‘call’ for Russian hacking was a tongue in cheek mocking of the media, when viewed in context.

Another blatant example of this was shown in the CBS reporting of the kidnap and torture of a disabled white teenager by four of his black peers in Chicago a couple weeks ago. The following report was given on a CBS radio station:

The viral video of a beating and knife attack in Chicago suggests the assault had racial overtones. CBS’s Dean Reynolds tells us the victim is described as a mentally-challenged teenager.

In the video he is choked and repeatedly called the n-word. His clothes are slashed and he is terrorized with a knife. His alleged captors repeatedly reference Donald Trump. Police are holding four people in connection with the attack.

That account is factually true, but it is constructed to convey something completely different to what took place. It starts by saying that the attack had a racial component before describing how the victim was called the n-word, with several references made to Donald Trump. Given that description, combined the narrative advanced by those on the left that Trump is a racist who wants to return black people to slavery, any listener would conclude that the victim was black and that the assailants were white, when in fact it was the other way around.

Even more spectacular is that this video, as the report notes, went viral. It was a widely discussed topic for several days so what exactly was this report trying to do by being do deceptive? In this light it reads as a petulant attempt to lash out at the destruction of a popular narrative.

This sort of brazenness is what colors the likes of Jake Tapper’s thinking, when he denounced Buzzfeed’s irresponsibility as ‘hurting us all.’ It completely exposes the game for the public to see, and makes it that much harder for the media to claim the solemn objectivity it craves. When the true, leftist views of many in the media are made so naked, more and more of the public recognize that most of these reporters are in the business of disseminating opinion disguised as news, and they’ll act accordingly, as shown already in diminished views of the media, as Oremus notes.

This phenomenon of the media exposing themselves as uniformly opinionated vis a vis Trump isn’t new – it has been a feature of his campaign. What is new are the heights to which Trump took the manner of his riposte this week – elevated by his stature as the elected President – when he referred to CNN as ‘fake news.’

This, in conjunction with Putin’s smackdown yesterday means that Putin and Trump, having access to the loudest megaphones on earth, are prepared to turn the ‘fake news’ moniker around on the mainstream media itself. Trump has already done this several times in his Tweets in addition to the Acosta moment. Even before that moment, some in the media saw the writing on the wall and were begging for the term to be gracefully put down. Too late. That’s an own goal the media will have to live with.

The reality for those in the media is that the two most powerful men in the world have positioned themselves as a traditionalist, nationalist tag-team who won’t fold under their pressure. And they control the bulk of the world’s nukes.

It’s little wonder why those cultural Marxist globalists in the media are squirming.

Election Influencers, Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the DNI report which was released over the weekend which declared that the Russians had influenced the 2016 election by hacking into the DNC and John Podesta, among others, as well as putting forth pro-Trump ‘propaganda’ on their state backed television networks.

I described how the charge as presented by the intelligence community is absurd; in short the fact that RT or Sputnik put forth a pro-Trump opinion, to mostly a Russian audience, speaking in Russian is hardly the most effective means to affect the US election. With respect to the leaked documents, those documents and emails were legitimate, as confirmed by the report, and thus merely exposed the bad actions that the DNC and the Clinton campaign engaged in. The net effect of ‘Russian involvement’ was more transparency and a more informed electorate, something which the US press and its lawmakers claims they are forever working to achieve.

The response by the media, and most lawmakers has been quite different. The prevailing attitude can be summed up by former CIA acting director Michael Morell, who said last month that the Russian intervention (whatever it actually was, if anything) was an ‘existential threat to our way of life’ which was ‘the political equivalent of 9/11.’

Such heightened language has become par for the course for analyzing this topic for purely political reasons. This politicization tabled by Brian Stelter in this interview with Glenn Greenwald:

After declaring that it is a possibility that there was Russian involvement, Greenwald had this to say about having blind trust in the intelligence community:

…but there’s a lesson, a really critical lesson that I thought we had learned back in August 1964, when the US Senate stood up and authorized Lyndon Johnson to escalate the war in Vietnam with two dissenting votes, based on the intelligence communities’ claims about what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin which turned out to be total false, and the same lesson in 2002 when a group of bipartisan senators assured the nation that the intelligence community convinced them that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was in an alliance with al-Qaeda, and the same lesson we learned in 2013, when just months before the Snowden reporting, James Clapper, President Obama’s top security official, lied to the faces of the country when he said he wants to assure the country that the NSA doesn’t collect data  on millions of Americans.

And that lesson is, we don’t just blindly and uncritically accept the claims of the intelligence community, especially provocative claims about a foreign adversary without seeing convincing evidence presented by them that those claims are true, and we absolutely have not seen that in this case.

Greenwald is absolutely right here, yet on this issue the narrative has been established that one has to blindly and uncritically accept whatever the intelligence community says or else there will be big problems. Here’s Morell, speaking on Face the Nation yesterday:

If the men and women of CIA don’t believe the President is listening to what they have to say, to the facts the put on the table, and the fact based analysis they put on the table, their interest in working there will go way down.

[…]

The other practical effect it has is that we tell people who are spying for us, who are actually putting their life on the line to spy for us, that their information is going to the highest levels of our government, and is being used to make the world a better place. If we can’t tell spies that, if they see that on TV, they’re not going to spy for us. So I think there are significant effects if the disparagement continues.

With respect to this particular instance, the ‘fact based analysis’ put forth by the intelligence community, that revealing the truth about the rigged game the DNC was playing constitutes foreign meddling in our electoral process, to the point that we face an existential threat to our way of life, is hard to take seriously. Morell’s interpretation that having such a reasonable second guessing of the intelligence analysis could lead to a sort of mutiny in the ranks of the CIA can only stem from a political bias.

Greenwald makes this point in later his interview with Stelter, noting the fact that Republicans put forth the idea that not agreeing with the intelligence community when they advocated war in 2002 was unpatriotic. Recall George W. Bush’s repeated utterances of the phrase ‘you’re either with us or against us’ in making his case. Democrats at the time were highly skeptical of intelligence, in their general stance against war.

It seems as though the roles have reversed today, with Democrats beating the drum for retaliation against Russia for meddling in the election. However, the political fault line causing the divide is not necessarily Republican versus Democrat. It is anti-establishment nationalists versus establishment globalists. This explains why the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and pundits such as David Brooks are all on the same side as Adam Schiff, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and the entirety of the mainstream US press.

Trump’s victory was a tremendous blow to this globalist set, and they have sought to strike back by in delegitimizing Trump’s presidency. They are in opposition to Russia, for varying reasons, which I’ve outlined before. The media, which is the mouthpiece for that establishment globalist view, has worked overdrive in recent weeks to heighten magnitude of what may or may not have happened with respect to the election, playing on patriotic feelings of the electorate to undermine President-elect Trump.

By creating this cloud of doubt around Russian involvement, the globalist defeat can be mitigated. The goal is to grind Trump down to a point where he ‘acknowledges’ that Russians may have played a role in the election. The second he does that, the intellectually dishonest narrative will be spun furiously. You can almost see the New York Times headline should Trump ever give in to some of these claims:

‘TRUMP HAS ADMITTED VLADAMIR PUTIN PERSONALLY INSTALLED HIM AS PRESIDENT’

It would be a box that would forever constrain his presidency, as anything he would hope to accomplish would be dogged by concerns about ‘Russian handlers,’ and the like. The globalists would have achieved their goal of a neutered Trump presidency. Trump is right to resist the intelligence conclusions to this point.

As for the media and lawmakers, their naked politicization of this issue will continue to harm their credibility. A facet of the intelligence report was focused on RT, the state-owned media outlet which was accused of disseminating pro-Trump ‘propaganda.’ This continues in the line of ‘fake news,’ which was a concept established after the election as an excuse as to why Hillary Clinton did not win.

‘Fake news’ is better described as ‘opinions the establishment media disagrees with,’ as evidenced by the outrageous treatment of Beppe Grillo, the outspoken Italian politician. Last week, he had the temerity to put forth his opinion that the mainstream media was the biggest purveyors of fake news themselves.

His views were met with massive backlash from globalist politicians, one of whom declared that the idea that random members of the public should decide what is and isn’t fake news ‘is called Fascism, and those who play to down are accomplices.’ His opinions and solutions were hailed as Mussolini-like. This shows you the state of mind of the globalist set. They put forth a set of options: agree with their consensus opinion, or be declared a fascist dealing in fake news.

Meanwhile, one of the organizations deemed to be ‘real’ news, the Washington Post, has just been caught publishing the most fake of fake news stories, accusing the Russians of hacking into the electric grid. Virtually every word of that article is false, yet the Post went with it enthusiastically, as it is in line with their globalist view.

The inflammatory nature of that claim that the Russians were tampering with the electric grid is orders of magnitude greater than anything that the Russians may have done in terms of hacking. It is potentially an offense warranting a military response. Yet the globalists have no qualms in falsely fanning these flames because it is in their interest.

In this vein, consider the following video from Chuck Schumer last week, in regards to the ongoing row between Trump and the intelligence community:

Shockingly, Schumer all but threatens Trump that his stance against the intelligence community would provoke retaliation by the intelligence community against Trump. It truly is a stunning thing to say, that the American intelligence community would literally strike back against the American President, as though they are mortal adversaries, all over a mere difference in opinion.

However, once you introduce the political aspect, and beyond this the ideological difference between the globalists and nationalists that trumps everything, such claims make a bit more sense.  Globalists such as Schumer, McCain and the mainstream media care more about preserving their power and the propagation of the globalist ideology than what is best for the American people. To them, saber rattling for World War 3 with nuclear-capable Russia is superior to allowing the nationalist bent of Trump and Putin to run unchecked, despite the latter having the potential to achieve real peace and prosperity for the respective peoples of the United States and Russia.

As more and more people on the ground understand these concepts, the credibility of the media and the globalist politicians they shill for decreases and decreases.

Election Influencers

This past Friday, the US intelligence community released what the New York Times would later call a ‘damning report’ about their findings with regards to the involvement of Russia in the US election. This issue was a hot subject of contention over the last 6 months or so of the election, with the multitude of WikiLeaks and other revelations from the Democratic National Committee showing the organization to be corrupt, and in many cases working in league with mainstream media outifits to its own ends.

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the media and the DNC beat the ‘Russians hacked the election’ drum ever louder. Some establishment Republicans, such as John McCain and Linsey Graham cottoned on to this as well, perhaps hoping to parlay these allegations into the increased US military offensive they’d been dreaming about.

All of this noise set up the report that was released by US intelligence on Friday. It was a de-classified effort, which aimed to outline exactly what the Russians did to influence the US election. Both the report itself, and the media coverage of the report and the issue generally are important to analyze with respect to the larger issue of a legitimate Trump presidency, and beyond that, a political intelligence community and heavily biased media.

Analyzing The Report’s Findings

The meat of the report begins as follows:

We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign then focused on undermining her expected presidency

Given that the report was declassified for public consumption, it makes note of the fact that it could not be very extensive in terms of providing direct evidence as this would betray some of its ‘collection’ methods and perhaps compromise sources. Thus, phrases such as ‘assess with high confidence’ are littered throughout the report in lieu of concrete evidence. In short we’re supposed to just take their word for it that the conclusions reached are valid.

According to the report, Putin masterminded an influence campaign aimed at altering the US election by undermining faith in the electoral process and harming Clinton. The Russian government had a preference for Trump, and when it looked as though Clinton would win they focused on stopping her.

If that warrants a deeper look by US intelligence agencies with a view to determining foul play, then surely the actions of the ‘globalist influence campaign’ require a second look as well. After all, the Russian government was not the only foreign entity which was shown to have a clear preference for one of the candidates in the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton says foreign leaders are privately reaching out to her to ask if they can endorse her to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States.

“I am already receiving messages from leaders,” Clinton told an Ohio audience at a Democratic presidential town hall on Sunday night.

“I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.”

The likes of Matteo Renzi of Italy (when he was still PM), and Francois Hollande of France did so publicly, and many other former heads of state such as Tony Blair and Vicente Fox did as well. UK Parliament was forced to debate a motion to ban Donald Trump from the country, after receiving the requisite number of signatures to a petition.

Furthermore, in the vein of the reports’ allegation that the Russians tactically switched focus when they thought Clinton was set to win, when Trump actually won the election, the focus of the ‘globalist influence campaign’ switched to undermining his presidency.

Nationwide rioting, Jill Stein’s recount effort, the focus on getting the Electoral College to ‘vote its conscience,’ and of course the Russian hacking angle, were all tools used to undermine the incoming Trump presidency by planting the seed that something was ‘wrong’ with outcome on November 8. To date, I haven’t seen much in the way of outrage at this blatant attempt to question Trump’s legitimacy, let alone official intelligence inquiries.

The report continues on, painting a picture of a Russian revenge plot, seeking retribution for the US-backed release of the Panama Papers, as well as the Olympic Doping scandal. Putin personally is supposedly holding a grudge against Clinton for negative comments she made about him back in 2011 and 2012.

The report says that Putin preferred Trump owing to his ‘stated policy to work with Russia’ (the horror) versus ‘Secretary Clinton’s “aggressive rhetoric.”’ Yes, intelligence community, Secretary Clinton’s insistence on a no-fly zone above Syria, an action which US Generals are adamant would lead to war with nuclear-powered Russia, qualifies as aggressive rhetoric. No need for the dismissive quotes. The report continues:

Moscow’s use of disclosures during the US election was unprecedented, but its influence campaign otherwise followed a longstanding Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, statefunded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

By ‘cyber activity,’ the report suggests that hackers such as Guccifer 2.0 obtained access to the DNC over a period of at least a year, and leaked the information it gathered to organizations such as WikiLeaks, which are also alleged to have had ties to the Russian government. The report alleges that Guccifer 2.0 is actually a Russian, and not a Romanian as is claimed.

One of the most important lines in the entire report is as follows:

Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.

In other words, the content that was released by the leaks was true. As for statefunded media, this ‘Russian Propaganda’ section of the report details the efforts of the likes of RT and Sputnik:

Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls—contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.

Starting in March 2016, Russian Government– linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump’s candidacy in media aimed at English-speaking audiences. RT and Sputnik—another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content in a variety of languages for international audiences—consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.

[…]

RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.

If positive coverage of Trump by Russian media is deemed to have been a factor in nefarious intervention in the US election, then the overwhelming negative coverage of Trump by US media is also such an attempt to influence the election. Consider this chart, obtained from the Washington Post.

This overwhelming negative bias by US media has not been classed as an attempt to install Hillary Clinton as president in the way the converse claim has been, let alone received any closer scrutiny by intelligence agencies.

It was through the leaks themselves that the public learned of the ways in which the media coordinated with the Clinton campaign. Multiple reporters, including Glenn Thrush of Politico and John Harwood of CNBC were caught colluding with the Clinton campaign, allowing it to shape their reporting. Then DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was observed threatening MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski over her coverage of Hillary Clinton.

Despite the report characterizing the paradigm of press as subservient to a corrupt political establishment to be propaganda, the leaks showed that this is exactly what happened.

That comprised about half of the meat of the report. The other half was almost entirely focused on RT specifically, breaking down its political views, TV show lonely, and metrics such as its YouTube and Twitter subscribers.

As mentioned before, there is no hard evidence of any claim made in the report, and many of the claims are conjecture based on inferences and critical interpretations of fact. As discussed before, the leaked information was all true and beyond that, the report also contained this important line, with respect to Russian alleged targeting of US election boards:

DHS assesses that the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.

Again, the information which was leaked was true, and not one vote was tabulated incorrectly.

Media Response

As such, any media outlet which has used phrases such as ‘Russia hacked the election’ have been deliberately obfuscating fact. The Russians did not change the vote totals, nor did they put any pressure on any individual to vote one way or another.

At the very most, the Russians used their media outlets to express their views on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and beyond this, Russian actors may have leaked pertinent, factual information in that regard. In terms of Russian media, expressing a pro-Trump, or anti-Clinton view is not propaganda as is claimed in the report, but merely expressing a political opinion.

RT or Sputnik have not done any different to the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC or CNN in terms of offering opinionated coverage of the election. If RT can be classed to have ‘influenced’ the election, in the pejorative manner that it has been accused, so too has the NYT and CNN influenced the election in this same manner.

Furthermore, RT and Sputnik together have nowhere near the level of influence over the American voter that the likes of the NYT, WaPo, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS, the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Fox do, in total, not to mention foreign outfits such as the BBC, The Guardian, Der Speigel and Al Jazeera. The efforts of that collective favored Hillary Clinton on balance, not Donald Trump. Yet US intelligence and those media outlets themselves are asking the American public to believe that plucky RT and Sputnik outweighed them all, to such a degree that it tipped the scales for Trump.

As for the leaked content, it bears repeating – none of it was false. The intelligence report confirmed it, as did the victims of the leak by not challenging the veracity of the emails themselves. Not one person piped up to say ‘Hey! I didn’t write that!’ Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign as DNC chairman owing to the fact that the coordination among the DNC to boost Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders was true.

In short, what these Russian (to the extent that they were Russian) leaks showed was that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were running a corrupt operation, which used the power structure of the Democratic Party to freeze out Bernie Sanders, and tried to use the media power structure to do the same to Donald Trump.

The leaks exposed the fundamentally un-American position Hillary Clinton held with respect to things such as international trade and open borders. It exposed the dubious links between Clinton, her global charity foundation, and favors done for foreign businessman, politicians and other dignitaries, implicating her as using her position as Secretary of State to personally enrich herself selling influence to foreigners.

This was all pertinent information to the American electorate. As such, the media and the intelligence community are in effect saying that it was wrong for the American electorate to know about the duplicitous and perhaps illegal activities engaged by Clinton and her campaign. It is an argument for a less informed electorate.

On top of all of this, the manner in which some of the leaked information was obtained  presents another side to the story. It was not mentioned in the report, but it is widely accepted that John Podesta was the victim of a basic phishing attack which compromised his email account. This Vox article explains what happened in further detail. In short, it was Podesta’s incompetence which was more responsible than any other factor for his emails falling in the hands of those that would leak them. It is a relief that the likes of Podesta are no longer in the halls of power on this basis.

This hasn’t stopped the media angst. From the NYT article describing the report (emphasis mine):

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation’s top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

The officials presented their unanimous conclusions to Mr. Trump in a two-hour briefing at Trump Tower in New York that brought the leaders of America’s intelligence agencies face to face with their most vocal skeptic, the president-elect, who has repeatedly cast doubt on Russia’s role. The meeting came just two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration and was underway even as the electoral votes from his victory were being formally counted in a joint session of Congress.

Soon after leaving the meeting, intelligence officials released the declassified, damning report that described the sophisticated cybercampaign as part of a continuing Russian effort to weaken the United States government and its democratic institutions. The report — a virtually unheard-of, real-time revelation by the American intelligence agencies that undermined the legitimacy of the president who is about to direct them — made the case that Mr. Trump was the favored candidate of Mr. Putin.

The voluminous, dramatic writing in this, the opening three paragraphs of the article, is amazing when juxtaposed with the ‘substance’ of the report – that showed that Russian media had a favorable opinion of Trump, and that Russian hackers potentially leaked accurate information pertinent to the election. Through Michael Creighton-level spy thriller narration, the media has pyramided this into a tall tale of international espionage, warranting a counter attack of sanctions and perhaps more.

This fiction is intended to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, just as the report itself. By hyping up the scale of Russian involvement, consistently dropping in phrases like ‘the disruption of our ELECTORAL PROCESS’ to highlight the sanctity of what was done, the media establishes an Us vs Them scenario vis a vis Russia, a country with which we already have priors.

The media then takes the next step and attacks Trump, who has been consistently skeptical of the Russian hacking angle. That the dramatization of the Russian involvement has a shred of truth embedded in it has allowed media pundits to be driven into a frenzy, tripping over themselves to express their shock that ‘Trump is ‘siding’ with a HOSTILE foreign power over US intelligence!!’

What is truly shocking is the fact that the media, and the intelligence community is siding with agitators for war such as McCain and Graham, all because Hillary Clinton, the media’s favored candidate also sided with the warmongers, as discussed before.

It is little wonder why Putin favored Trump – he was the candidate which wants cooperation with Russia. As I’ve discussed before, cooperation with Russia is a non-starter for the globalist influence campaign waged by leftists, which detests the country for its refusal to play ball with American hegemony geopolitically while rejecting imposing Cultural Marxist dogma on its people.

As a result, Russia has been fashioned, incorrectly,  as the mortal enemy of the United States once again. Fake news indeed.

Conventional Economic Thinking, Getting It Wrong

Yesterday I mentioned Paul Krugman, a NYT opinion columnist, and the tantrum he was in the midst of throwing over the result of the election. Despite his regular columns on politics, his day job is as an economist, a Nobel-winning one at that. This fact doesn’t render his views any more right, given the fact that economics is essentially a branch of Philosophy rather than a branch of the Hard Sciences.

Krugman took time out of his of his anti-Trump meltdown to post this tweet, in which me mocked ‘creative desctruction.’

(Tweet: “So creative destruction is mostly BS. Kind of suspected that  “)

Krugman has long held an antipathy to the idea of creative destruction, in particular when applied generally to an economy in the mold of Joseph Schumpeter. Consider this post he wrote a couple years ago:

The same impulse, I think, is why Schumpeter gets cited so much. If you read his stuff directly, it’s interesting, I guess, although his attempts to explain the business cycle were a waste of good paper. But it’s that glamorizing phrase “creative destruction” that did it, because it’s so flattering to the big money (and excuses a lot of suffering, too).

[…]

So here’s a revolutionary thought: maybe we need to do less disruption and put more effort into doing whatever we do well.

The post in question, as well as the recent tweet was in reference to the idea of creative destruction on a micro level in the sense of business innovation. The abstract of the paper in the tweet reads as follows:

Entrants and incumbents can create new products and displace the products of competitors. Incumbents can also improve their existing products. How much of aggregate productivity growth occurs through each of these channels? Using data from the U.S. Longitudinal Business Database on all non-farm private businesses from 1976–1986 and 2003–2013, we arrive at three main conclusions: First, most growth appears to come from incumbents. We infer this from the modest employment share of entering firms (defined as those less than 5 years old). Second, most growth seems to occur through improvements of existing varieties rather than creation of brand new varieties. Third, own-product improvements by incumbents appear to be more important than creative destruction. We infer this because the distribution of job creation and destruction has thinner tails than implied by a model with a dominant role for creative destruction.

These conclusions are, in truth, straightforward. Following on Peter Thiel’s concept of ‘zero to one,’ it is much harder to create an entirely new product, concept or entire industry from scratch as opposed to improving an existing product, concept or industry. However, the true advances in humanity come from these ‘zero to one’ moments. Going from horse and carriage to automobile was a far more substantive and ‘ball advancing’ move than the improvement of the automobile which has taken place since.

Applied to the individual businesses, there is more ‘growth’ from the likes of Proctor and Gamble, Ford and GE than there are from the likes of Google simply because there are simply fewer Googles.

Krugman uses this to poo-pooh the idea of creative destruction generally. His fight is with the like of people such as myself, who argue that when economies as a whole enter into recession, the best thing for that economy would be for those stricken businesses to be allowed to fold, that bad debt to be liquidated, and prices find their appropriate level, in line with the incomes and economic reality.

This is where the disdain for the ‘glorification’ of creative destruction comes from, because when applied to an economy as a whole, the aforementioned recessionary symptoms lead to falling employment and lower prices in the short term. This is, of course a painful thing, and Krugman, with his pro-government  leanings, believes that the government can solve these problems by easing monetary conditions and spending money to prop up the failed businesses and restoring debt. When Krugman writes about sticking to doing ‘whatever we do well,’ he means ‘whatever economic paradigm was prevailing before the recession,’ when applied to economies as a whole.

The problem with his, and indeed the standard Keynesian approach to the world, is that existing paradigms may not be lasting. They may fail under changing conditions and thus must adapt to stay relevant to the new economic reality. As such printing trillions of dollars to revive a failing economic model founded on debt fueled spending collateralized by ever rising asset prices is a recipe for failure, in the long run. Creative destruction is thus far from being ‘BS’ but in fact the only way for economies as a whole to be structured appropriately, so as to be in line with the underlying economic realities of the time.

**********

Elsewhere in Ivy League Economics PhD News, Alan Kreuger, also of Princeton, and Lawrence Katz of Harvard recently released a study which showed that 95% of the jobs created in the Obama ‘recovery’ were part time or contractor work. This is hardly surprising to most who understood the problem with the idea that reflating asset bubbles was not a strategy for success.

The prior bubble popped because prices were sent out of wack. Businesses could not recoup the ever higher costs of production with ever higher prices for the final goods. The lack of demand at higher prices meant that prices could only fall, and with them wages, the price of labor.

Keynesian economists such as Krugman, Krueger and Katz, have no tolerance for such vagaries of the market, and seek to prop prices. In doing so, they propped the higher costs of production which meant they were forced to cut costs elsewhere. This meant workers were either laid off, replaced with robots, or had their hours reduced, or some combination of the three.

This thrust the worker into an environment in which his or her hours were cut while the prices he or she had to pay for goods and services rose. This meant that the worker had to supplement the now part-time or no-time work he or she was doing with a second or third part-time job, or becoming a contractor.

Obamacare crystallized this phenomenon, with its mandates on employers, especially service sector employers, leading to many of them reducing the hours of their staff to avoid the mandatory health care expenditures, hiring more part time workers to fill in the gaps.

This was how Obama’s ‘stellar’ job creation statistics were constructed. The most telling part of the article is the following [emphasis mine]:

Krueger, a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was surprised by the finding.

The disappearance of conventional full-time work, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work, has hit every demographic. “Workers seeking full-time, steady work have lost,” said Krueger.

Under Obama, 1 million fewer workers, overall, are working than before the beginning of the Great Recession.

That the likes of Krueger, a Keynesian through and through, would be surprised is of no surprise to me. The Keynesian understanding of the economic world has shown to be bankrupt in the long run. That it is survives as a respected school of thought is down to its ‘success’ in the short run, on a superficial basis. The fact that the Obama administration created millions of jobs, tripled the stock market and has engineered housing prices back to near pre-crisis levels is seeming evidence of the fact that these Keynesian polices have succeeded.

But as this paper notes, this was a papering over the cracks. Despite the touts of the administration, the people know that the economic recovery hasn’t been as great as it seemed, as they see it every day. They are the ones who have to go out in search of multiple part time jobs to make up the hours that were lost elsewhere. They are the ones who are paying higher and higher costs for the same standard of living.

To do this and to be continually told that the economy is improving was a slap in the face which proved one too many for the average voter, which ultimately goes some distance to explain why Trump had such a stern base of support.

Furthermore, this explains why the old media outlets who crow endlessly about how unqualified Trump’s picks are for his cabinet. Krugman, Katz and Kreuger have a combined 100 plus years of economic experience, yet for all their ‘wisdom,’ their understanding of the economy is wholly inadequate.

Chronicles in Old Media Delusion

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times thinks he has found the solution to the pandemic of ‘fake news,’ which he and others in the Old Media are convinced cost Hillary Clinton the election. Of course, this ‘fake news’ is most accurately described as ‘news and/or opinions which do not line up with the views espoused by those on the left.’

In his article, he points to the latest outrage sparked by yet another Donald Trump tweet, in which he took umbrage to a Vanity Fair review of his own Trump Grill.

(Tweet: “Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!”)

Rutenberg, as with most old media journalists, treat these mini blasts from Trump as though they had been chiseled onto Moses’ stone tablets, such is the importance they give to 140-character, largely throwaway streams of consciousness.

In fairness, they can be quite entertaining, and given that Trump is going to be the next president of the United States, and an avid Twitter user, I can understand the fixation on them. In this particular tweet, Rutenberg sees the seeds of a victory for the old media he represents against Trump, who has been at odds with them since he embarked on his campaign for the presidency.

As Mr. Trump tries to burn the media village down, he may just be saving it.

His running campaign of Twitter attacks, declarations of failure and vows to punish the traditional news media is threatening to do what so many years of cost-cutting and re-envisioning could not do as easily: put the industry on more solid economic footing, where customers who realize its value are willing to pay for it more regularly.

It’s early. And, in traditional media, hope is the province of masochists.

But in the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations.

It’s as if Mr. Trump’s media attacks have combined with the heightened attention on the perils of fake news to create one big fat advertisement for the value of basic journalism.

“The fake news business is going to be great for journalism in the long run,” Mr. Carter told me Friday, referring to Mr. Trump as “the Fake Newser in Chief.” “Proper news organizations should thrive under this.”

The irony if this is that Rutenberg’s conclusion describes the exact dynamic which existed between his Old Media and Trump throughout the campaign. That is, the constant attacks by the old media against Trump probably did more than anything to galvanize his supporters and turn those who originally opposed him. Take this quote from Slate Star Codex, who noted that he was an anti-Trump supporter, but understood the fact that the media, by ‘crying wolf’  enabled what should have been a joke candidate (in his eyes) to ascend to victory:

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Stop talking about dog whistles. The kabbalistic similarities between “dog-whistling” and “wolf-crying” are too obvious to ignore.

Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

In that now-viral post, SSC points out the fact that the KKK has a memebership of about 5,000, which is about 0.02% of the population and orders of magnitude fewer numbers than groups like the Nation of Islam, Church of Satan and Harare Karishnas. Yet none of these groups are taken seriously at all, let alone feared by the media to have had the ear of a presidential candidate such that we should all cluth our children closer at night.

SSC notes Trump has explicitly ignored and denounced David Duke, the media’s KKK go-to figure of note, on a consistent basis since the year 2000. Yet this didn’t stop the media from beating on and on about Trump and his white nationalist base.

SSC tears apart many other similar old media talking points which were used to batter Trump with on a regular basis during the campaign. The problem for the old media was that their propaganda drives took place in the age of the internet, and more importantly in the age of social media. The existence of ALL of the source material and primary sources meant that the false narratives the old media could be deconstructed in real time, and spread to the public as a whole.

And in the face of this, the old media kept crying wolf, to the point where Rutenberg’s own employer had to print a mea culpa of sorts, in which it stated it would ‘rededicate’ itself ‘to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.’

Indeed, those last two words, Times journalism printed in that manner are quite curious. One would think that good, or even great journalism would be more appropriate an aim. By referring to their own special brand of journalism, one that had been categorically shoddy (recall, Rutenberg himself argued that it was right for journalists to treat Trump with open hostility earlier this summer), the piece from the Editorial Board reads less mea culpa and more ‘we’re doubling down.’

One of the NYT’s more famous columnists, Paul Krugman is in the midst of such a doubling down, a multi-day effort of Wrong spanned out across multiple outlets. To be sure, Krugman is an opinion writer, but in the context of this discussion, we live in a current journalistic climate in which doing ‘real’ journalism is to give the opinions of a leftist. To take an opposing view isn’t just disagreement, but heresy, worthy of censure. In that climate you can’t just have a difference of opinion, you are considered to be evil if you disagree.

Krugman’s meltdown began with this tweet last weekend in which he stated that Trump would be politically incentivized by a 9/11 style terror attack:

(Tweet: “Thought: There was (rightly) a cloud of illegitimacy over Bush, dispelled (wrongly) by 9/11. Creates some interesting incentives for Trump”)

He then frothed at the mouth after the Electoral College confirmed Trump’s Nov. 8 election victory:

(Tweet: “So it’s official, and it’s vile: the loser of the popular vote installed by Russian intervention, a rogue FBI, and epic media malfunction.”)

Then kept fighting the good ‘Trump is White Nationalist’ fight:

(Tweet: “To join Trump admin, you have to be white nationalist conspiracy theorist, but must also be always wrong re your supposed area of expertise)

His last three columns he wrote (here, here, here) were all to do with the fact that the election was stolen by the Russians and the FBI, and that our corrupt institutions let us down. On that final score he is partially right – our corrupt institutions have let us down – and it was because of that the electorate was galvanized by Trump and his call to ‘drain the swamp’ to take action against them.

The institutions didn’t want Trump. The problem was that in Clinton stood a candidate so corrupt herself that the institutions couldn’t deflect Trump’s charges. Clinton would have skated by a Jeb or Rubio, neither of whom were willing to ‘go there,’ and thus the public wouldn’t have cared about the alleged misdeeds of Clinton. If no politician was willing to stand up, the people would have trudged to the polls to elect Clinton, despite the stench of corruption.

Trump was different, Trump stood up to Clinton and the media who backed her. That’s why he won. And in the wake of it all, that same media has rushed to decry the constant discussion of that Clinton Stench during the campaign as ‘fake news.’

It’s been said repeatedly, but the post-election stance has shown that the old media has learned nothing. As they continue to define the fake news/proper news spectrum as pro-Trump/anti-Trump opinion respectively, they continue to dig themselves into a deeper hole.

Rutenberg is absolutely right in saying that proper news organizations will benefit wildly from the coming journalistic landscape, which in many ways is already here. However, given the waning trust in old media outlets like his, followed by his own shop posting middling profits, as well as an office space downsize in the offing, it is clear he has the specific organizations on each side of the real/fake news divide backwards.

Election Trutherism: Putin’s Akina-Inu Ate My Homewok

Hillary Clinton, spoke on Thursday to a group of her donors, presumably reassuring them as to why the $1 billion-plus they spent on her wasn’t a colossal waste of money.  She outspent Trump massively, while also having the vast majority of academia, the media, and pop culture behind her.

To lose with that sort of advantage at the foundation of her campaign from day one certainly makes this election result a contender for one of the greater upsets in political history. It had to be a tough ask, to get in front of the money men after such a catastrophe, which is probably why it took over a month for her to gather up the courage to face that music.

When she did, she chose to adopt the ‘Russia ate my homework’ explanation which had been a part of the discussion prior to the election, and has now been screamed from the rooftops afterward:

Speaking to a group of donors in Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Putin, the Russian president, had never forgiven her for the accusation she made in 2011, when she was secretary of state, that parliamentary elections his country held that year were rigged.

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Mrs. Clinton said.

It is the first time Mrs. Clinton has publicly addressed the impact of the hacks since the intelligence community concluded that they were specifically aimed at harming her campaign.

“Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign,” Mrs. Clinton told the group, which collectively poured roughly $1 billion into her effort. “This is not just an attack on me and my campaign, although that may have added fuel to it. This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation.”

It wasn’t the fact that she was simply outworked by Trump. It wasn’t that she ran a campaign hyper-focused on an aggressive Identity Politics and a grievance culture which has long since worn out its welcome. It wasn’t that she merely assumed that because it was ‘her turn’ she would waltz to a coronation. It wasn’t that she was reckless with classified information while at Secretary of State. It wasn’t the fact that she was the poster child for modern day political corruption and pay-to-pay politics (exemplified by the very group she was speaking to).

It was the Russians and their mischievous hackers.

This Election Trutherism has been dutifully put forth by leftists and those in the Old Media who still cannot believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election. They have brought this Trutherism to a new level in recent days by lobbying for the Electoral College, which meets tomorrow, to reject the result of the election by denying Donald Trump the 270 votes he needs to become president. It is an exercise in hypocrisy and arrogance, not to mention a gross misinterpretation of the Constitution.

The Charge

Last week, The Washington Post published this story, which alleged that the CIA had come to a definitive conclusion that the Russians were behind the shenanigans that took place during the election, and did so specifically to aid Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

There is plenty to note here, particularly the high level of vagueness involved. A ‘secret assessment,’ found that ‘actors’ with ‘connections’ to Russia leaked hacked emails to WikiLeaks, ‘according to US officials.’ There is not a shred of concrete evidence in any of these claims, and none has materialized since they were made.

Furthermore, that these alleged efforts were done with the express purpose of boosting Trump’s chances is also without evidence. The Post piece mentions that the CIA ‘findings’ had been questioned by other intelligence agencies, on the basis of there not being enough concrete information:

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

These holes in the narrative were ‘corrected’ just a few days later when the major entities which comprise the Old Media reported that the intelligence community now believe that Vladamir Putin was directly involved, instructing the hacking and how it would be used. From NBC:

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore,” the official said.

In other words, the vague confirmation by anonymous ‘US officials’ that the Russians interfered with the election with the purpose of aiding Trump, was later backed up with ‘new intelligence’ from yet more anonymous ‘officials’ who declared that Putin was personally involved and even directed the whole thing.

Of course all of this vagueness can be justified as being necessary, so as to shield the sensitivity of ongoing intelligence work. The Post refers to this in its piece. However, that vagueness is also the perfect shield for narrative creation, which, in the context of the totality of the post-election events suggests that this is the likelier of the necessity of the ambiguity.

Spheres of Influence

The game is made much clearer once one advances from the contention that the Russians interfered with the election to the discussion of exactly how they interfered. Both Loretta Lynch on Thursday and President Obama yesterday unequivocally stated that there was no technical interference from Russia or anyone else in the election. In other words, voting machines were not tampered with, nor were votes incorrectly tallied, and things of that nature. This was confirmation from the highest level that the 2016 election was a free and fair one, at least in a pure technical sense.

So what is the outrage about? It stems from the fact that someone leaked emails from John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to Wikileaks, who then leaked it to the public in driblets over the final months of the campaign. The Russians have been fingered as the ‘someone,’ and this has been spun to be evidence that the election was ‘hacked,’ and our Democratic Institutions have been tampered with.

That narrative is patently false, as Obama and Lynch have confirmed for us, and any characterization of Russian involvement in this manner is designed to deceive the audience. The Russians (if it was indeed them) engaged in an old fashioned data leak. That was it. They didn’t hack anything but John Podesta’s email account, and released its contents to the public.

The public was thus exposed to new information, which it absorbed and factored in to its decision making. If this constitutes an attempt to nefariously ‘interfere’ with the election, then the leak of the Billy Bush tape, in which Trump used some vulgar language in speaking about women, also qualifiesas an attempt to ‘interfere’ with the election.

Both leaks exposed pertinent information to the public about the candidates. That the Podesta and DNC leaks may have originated from international sources is irrelevant. The information itself was true, and damaging. Michael Tracey provides a bullet point list of what those leaks revealed in this piece, and he concludes it by correctly noting that what was leaked was most definitely in the public interest.

In short, the ‘Russians’ interfered with the US election by showing how the DNC and the Clinton campaign planned to themselves interfere with the US election by colluding with party bigwigs, donors and the media to stack the deck in her favor. They rigged the Democratic Party Primary against Bernie Sanders. Both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile came under fire as heads of the DNC, with the former having to step down as a result. The latter was caught funneling debate questions to Clinton.

It exposed the private dealings of Hillary Clinton behind closed doors, notably her insistence that it was important to have both a private and public position on issues. It shed light onto some of the more shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation which coincided with Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. The leaks ultimately put some meat onto the bones of the concept that rampant political corruption goes on at the highest levels of modern government. Most people always suspected this, but lacked the concrete evidence. In many ways, those leaks provided that evidence.

It is telling that throughout the campaign, as the leaks were being delivered, those parties involved never outright denied the validity of the information being released. The most they could do was to appeal to the same sort alarm over foreign intrusion which has been taken to new heights post election.

The whole thing is reminiscent of the poker scene from the 1973 movie, The Sting, featuring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Newman’s character, Shaw, outwits a mobster, Lonnegan, playing in a private game. The idea was to set Shaw up by trick dealing him a four of a kind, which in poker is a virtually unbeatable hand. This would induce Shaw to end up betting all of his chips, and possibly more, on such a sure thing. Lonnegan, carrying a second deck in his pocket, ‘dealt’ himself a better four of a kind, and thus would have shown down with Lonnegan, losing everything, thus completing the scam.

Shaw, wise to the gambit, was ready for it, and when the time came made a switch. The movie doesn’t show how he did it, but Shaw had originally been dealt four threes, while Lonnegan had been dealt four nines. The betting carries on until both players are all in. Shaw then turns over four jacks, to the dismay of all in the room. Lonnegan, defeated, storms into a side room angry enough to kill. His associate, bewildered, tells Lonnegan: “Doyle, I know I gave him four THREES. He had to make a switch. We can’t let him get away with that.”

Lonnegan response was famous: “What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?”

Unlike those on the left, Lonnegan understood that you can’t call someone out for being crooked when you are crooked yourself. Having been outsmarted, Lonnegan accepted Shaw had bested him and moved on.

Instead, the left has responded by ramping up the outrage, making it seem as though they had been wronged. Again, both the Attorney General and the President of the United States confirmed that the 2016 electoral process was a free and fair one, devoid of technical interference by any perpetrator, foreign or domestic.

Despite this, democrat politicians, aided by their leftist friends in the Old Media have succeeded in driving the hysteria about Russian involvement into the stratosphere. What happened was a data leak by unknown actors, who could have been foreign. What the old media has implicated, in their usage of terms such as ‘hacked the election,’ is that some sort of advanced espionage operation took place, which was coordinated to install Donald Trump as president.

In the past week or so op–ed after op-ed has filled the pages of newspapers across the country decrying the now ‘tainted’ election, calling on the Electoral College to rectify the situation when it meets on Monday. They’ve even resorted to the failed tactic of trotting out celebs to stand in front of a white wall delivering a public service announcement instructing the Electors to stand up for America and do the right thing, which is to not confirm Trump’s presidency. Naturally, the video has disabled comments and the like/dislike button.

Suddenly, Constitutional Originalism is In Vogue

Vox wrote this piece a few weeks ago to explain why it would be a legitimate action for the Electoral College to not vote for Trump, citing the constitution and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers writings. To be sure, it would be legitimate for the Electors to do whatever they wanted, individual state rules notwithstanding. The constitution allows for them to do this. However, the standard reasoning provided by leftist for why they should vote for someone other than Trump is wrong. The Vox article writes:

Constitutional history makes clear that the founders had three main purposes in designing the Electoral College.

The first was to stop a demagogue from becoming president. At the Constitutional Convention, arguing in support of the Electoral College, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he was “against a popular election” for president because the people would be “misled by a few designing men.” In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. They would also stop anyone who would “convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.”

The characterization of Trump as a demagogue is a matter of opinion. The fact that political pundits in the old media refer to Trump as a demagogue nearly every time they speak about him does not make it a fact. The fact that Trump did tap into a huge wave of populism does not render his policies or his victory somehow illegitimate simply because of that populism.

Consider that Trump has been called a racist xenophobe for putting forth an immigration proposal that seeks to rigorously enforce existing law which for many years has been ignored on many levels. The fact that this is such a popular stance among his supporters and played a huge role in his victory has been used as an example of his ‘demagoguery.’

In terms of a ‘violent movement,’ to the left Trump’s campaign qualifies as such given his signal to aggressively follow the law means that those who break the law are going to be in for an uncomfortable time, to put it mildly. In the realm of immigration, this means illegal immigrants, a protected class of the left, are going to be subject to the ‘violence’ of facing consequences for breaking American immigration laws.

It says a lot about where we are as a society when calls to follow the law can be considered to be demagoguery, no matter how brash they are.

As for Hamilton’s wish to essentially banish charming, engaging, charismatic celebrity types from holding the office, if this is to be the standard, then most of the presidents in the television era are ineligible. Indeed, the 1960 Presidential Debates are immortalized based on the simple fact that the introduction of television altered the perception of the two candidates’ performances. Famously, those who listened on the radio believed that Nixon won, while those who watched on television believed Kennedy was more effective. Kennedy was the more visually appealing of the two, standing calm and assured, while Nixon famously looked a sweating mountain of nerves.

According to the standard now being imposed by the left, Kennedy’s superior charisma and charm should have been taken into account by the Electoral College, especially given the razor thin margin of his victory. Subsequent presidents in the TV era, from Reagan, to Bill Clinton, and even President Obama won, in part, on the strength of their charm, natural persuasion and ability to relate to people. They all displayed ‘talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,’ because it is a successful, almost necessary tactic in an era so influenced by television.

On the whole, this point is a non-starter, at all levels. Vox continues:

The second goal was to stop foreign interference in election. In the founding period, the framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” He said that the college would “Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention” from the electors.

There is slightly more to this point, as I’ve discussed above. However, nothing about the Russian hacking rises to the level of gaining ‘an improper ascendant in our councils.’ If anything fits that bill, it would be the behind closed doors declaration of Hilary Clinton to international bankers that her dream was to establish a ‘hemispheric common market’ across North America, that would benefit globalist interest. It would be the Uranium One deal Clinton help broker with, you guessed it, Russia, as Secretary of State.

These are the sorts of things consistent with foreign entities looking to install a puppet as opposed to a relatively mundane action like a data leak. More from Vox:

The third goal was to prevent poor administration of government. This is a less well-known purpose of the Electoral College, but it is again expressly discussed in Federalist No. 68. Hamilton wrote that “the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration,” and for that reason, he said, the electors should be “able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration.”

Vox claimed that Trump had violated this goal because of his popular vote defeat, but that certainly isn’t evidence of anything. In fact the Electoral College exists precisely to prevent the majority vote from potentially harming the nation as a whole. Given that the majority voted against Trump, and thus against the rule of law to favor the nebulous concept of ‘racism’ as it is defined in 2016, the Electoral College worked exactly as it should have on November 8.

So while it is within the rights of the Electors to cast their votes in a manner that would deny Trump the presidency, the threat to the republic that is bandied as the reason for doing so does not exist. Trump is not a demagogue or foreign puppet and has not exhibited a stark inability to execute a good administration. The only ones who truly believe this are leftists and globalist Republicans, who collectively find Trump to be objectionable.

The grounds on which they have been objecting to Trump are the extension of a concept I’ve repeated over the latter stages of the election; that is the idea that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and so on are the gravest of societal sins while simultaneously being near ubiquitous in modern society. From the vantage point of this current cultural milieu, Trump is an illegitimate president, owing to his supposed racism and xenophobia.

Therefore, from this vantage point, looking to the Constitution for guidance, and encouraging the Electors to reject Trump is a legitimate course of action. More from Vox:

Modern-day conservatives favor so-called “originalist” understandings of the Constitution. They look to history and to the original texts of our founding documents for guidance. Recent decades have seen the invocation of original constitutional institutions to address present concerns, such as when the Rehnquist Court struck down Congressional laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Gun-Free School Zones Act on the grounds that they violated an originalist understanding of the Commerce Clause.

Whether or not you agree with such decisions, they establish the broad-spectrum appeal of our constitutional institutions — particularly in times of crisis. “Make America great again” is a clever marketing slogan. But our real greatness depends on employing our institutions and values to protect our republic from those who might prey on us.

This is written without a hint of irony, given the general leftist aversion to ‘originalist’ interpretation of Constitutional texts. Just in the last year or two they belittled the originalist opposition to gay marriage laws and Obamacare. Thus, their sudden sprint into the bosom of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison is tinged with hypocrisy.

As is Election Trutherism in general, given the fact that before the election Trump was hailed a threat to the 240 year republic for merely stating that he would wait to confirm the legitimacy of the election result rather than blindly accepting it. Now that Trump has won, the same factions which decried him are not accepting the election results, owing to their disagreements with Trump’s politics wrapped in the veneer of foreign meddling.

Had the shoe been on the other foot, there would have been calls for Trump’s arrest for disrupting the ‘peaceful transition of power’ in the way the leftists are doing to Trump.

Trump is a threat because his flouting Politically Correct cultural norms threatens the source of power that leftists have used to wield their influence on society. By establishing their opinions on social issues as the moral ones, mere disagreements are thus immoral, and therefore their disruptions become justified. Of course their views are conjecture, and nothing more.

Despite the jittering protestations of the likes of Keith Olberman, in a free and fair election, Donald Trump won 306 Electoral College votes, and thus the Presidency. None of the contingencies which should prompt the Electors to intervene exist. Even if the Electors chose to overturn the electoral vote on Monday, the decision would go to the House of Representatives, who would most likely elect Trump.

Conclusion

The entire episode is part of the drive to de-legitimize the Trump presidency. It is an attempt for leftists to deny responsibility for their loss, despite having the deck stacked in its favor. In crying foul, they give themselves an out. The drudges across the political establishment, from media pundits and columnists, to polling companies, to campaign advisers, lobbyists and other insiders, all rely on the status quo for their daily bread. That they completely misread Trump’s candidacy and the American electorate, even well after the election has ended, indicates that their usefulness is over.

Unless the election was literally stolen, swindled from under their noses. In this case, it wasn’t their fault. Their world view, their reading of current events, their prescriptions for the future were actually correct; it was unforeseen injustice which got in their way. It’s incredibly self-serving.

It is also incredibly encouraging to those of us who were on The Right Side Of History the entire time. Because to us, these flare-ups and meltdowns emanating from the left confirm that they have no wish to change. They have no wish to stop trying to foist their delusions of equality and social justice on the rest of the public, through the ‘everything and everyone is racist’ mode of argument. A mode of argument which, had just received a resounding defeat in the marketplace of ideas, as evidenced by the election results, and the growing influence of internet culture.

So let the leftists continue down this line for as long as they wish. Their losses will accrue accordingly.

Trump’s Greatest Challenge

…will be restoring the American economic machine to its former glory. To the extent he is able to achieve this, a lot of ills that may crop up elsewhere may be forgiven. Trump’s economic progress will be especially important from a political sense given the fact that Trump is the ‘change’ candidate. He ran, and was elected on a promise to shift away from the status quo in all aspects. Should the Trump economic doctrine fail, it will poison the anti-status quo rhetoric which won him the presidency for decades to come. It will potentially open the door for a complete and total return to power for the ‘establishment’ forces in a way that may be more damaging than if Hillary Clinton had won instead. That underscores how important it is for Trump to get the economics right.

As I write this, we are in the midst of a post-election victory haze which has seen the stock market make new highs virtually on a daily basis. Stock in commodities and manufacturing have risen by upwards of 50%. Trump himself has lauded the reaction in stocks since November 8 as a validation of his election.

In some ways he is correct. Should he enact his policies, especially the cutting of corporate taxes and reducing regulations, the business environment in this country will improve, which will lead to greater profitability and thus higher stock valuations.

The issue is that the market correctly assigning higher stock valuations to publicly traded companies is happening in an environment in which these valuations were already in the realm of the absurd. Indeed, Trump himself lamented the fact that the stock market was in a giant bubble on the campaign trail, calling it a ‘false’ stock market. Now that he has won, and stock prices have rocketed even higher, Trump is being inconsistent in his praise for what can only be described as the bubble getting even more absurd.

What has driven this bubble to its current heights has been the torrent of debt unleashed on the economy over the last 7+ years. This debt, in turn was facilitated by the depressing of interest rates to levels not seen in the history of the developed world, for nearly a decade, without interruption. Sticking with the United States, the Federal Reserve quintupled the size of its balance sheet, which enabled the totality of credit outstanding to continue to expand, in the manner it has done for the better part of four decades.

The result has been the restoration of the 2008 bubble, the popping of which led to so much destruction. What is important to note is that this bubble, like all bubbles, will pop. The only question is the needle which pricks it. It very well might be the Federal Reserve, which is set to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. It might be the plunging of the economy into a full blown recession, which is a natural part of economic cycles, but truly devastating when a bubble has been the foundation of the preceding period of growth.

Regardless of how it starts, the fact is that one peach of a smash is inevitable. This is because of the fact that as it currently stands, the US economy employs a debt driven consumer spending model as its method for achieving economic growth. This sort of model relies on constantly expanding debt, and constantly rising prices. These are two facets which are unable to endure indefinitely, much in the same way it is impossible for a human being to naturally propel oneself through the air indefinitely without gravity asserting itself at some point. From an earlier piece I wrote on the subject:

At some point, markets can’t support prices at the high levels producers need to set, which in turn leads to prices falling, profits falling, trouble servicing debts, liquidations, and layoffs. Yet, the solution presented by mainstream economics is to guide prices higher again.

All actors in the economy, from the government, to households to business are currently over-indebted.

As a result we are getting closer to the point when there will be no one left to take on the new debt required to push prices ever higher, in order to keep the ‘growth’ going. As this become more and more apparent, prices will start to fall, loans will become bad, bankruptcies will rise, and all the rest of it. Then the political game truly begins.

The economic carnage will be universally blamed on Trump, and it will not be a difficult story to sell. The surface level thinking will show that the economy was ‘fine’ under Obama, with rising stock prices, rising GDP, home prices and employment levels, a reduction in the deficit and so on. The fact that these metrics are superficial, and easily gamed by the cheap money which will have evaporated in the downturn will be overlooked.

It is at this point that the most pivotal moment in Trump’s presidency will arrive. He will have to choose between attempts at reflating the burst bubble, and allowing market forces to play out, and then rebuilding on the new landscape that forms thereafter.

The standard politician has always taken the former route. It is the route of political expedience, the route of slavish devotion to abstract metrics such as GDP. The last two administrations have done exactly that. In the wake of burst Internet and Housing bubbles, the Bush and Obama administrations respectively, in conjunction with the Greenspan and Bernanke Federal Reserves ‘stimulated’ the economy via a lowering of interest rates and dramatic increases of debt. The debt taken on under the Bush administration equaled that of the cumulative debt of every president prior to him. Eight years on, President Obama matched that dubious achievement.

The consequence of allowing market forces to run their course would have been catastrophic, in fairness. This is largely because the multi decade advance of asset prices was also the savings vehicle for many in the Baby Boom generation. For decades, they had not had to build real, legitimate savings because asset prices were always rising. When the time came to retire, conventional wisdom held, it was simply a matter of selling the assets and living happily ever after. That all changed when the bubbles burst, particularly in 2008. For many Boomers, their retirement nest egg had been wiped away, or at least severely diminished, just at the very moment they needed it.

The actions of world governments and central banks in attempt to reflate the bubble was in some sense a refusal by the Boomer generation to accept their mistake, demanding that economic gravity be defied indefinitely until they were made whole again.

These actions were able to ‘fix’ the problem in the short run, but are fundamentally inadequate for the long term. Indeed there has been positive talk about home prices which are nominally flirting with 2008 bubble levels. At some point there will again be ‘too much debt,’ and the whole system will be under pressure once more. The fact that asset prices have been engineered higher for the benefit of Boomers means that these very assets will be increasingly out of reach for a younger generation which itself is overburdened by student debt the Boomers never dealt with when they were young.

This will necessitate still further debt and money printing to enable the younger generation to purchase assets from Boomers at these stratospheric levels, in order for them to retire.

This paradigm is the equivalent of fixing the negative symptoms of a drug withdrawal with a higher dose of the drug. I sets in motion a cycle in which the only conclusion is either an overdose or the mother of all withdrawals.

The correct solution is to endure the withdrawals, no matter how bad they are, because they will still be better than a certain overdose. In the context of the current economic situation, that means allowing the gaggle of bad debt which hangs around the neck of the economy like an albatross, to be purged from the system.

Trump should understand this scenario well – for it mirrors the situation he was in personally during the early 1990s. Having overextended himself in the late 80s, he was in a fair bit of trouble, to put it mildly, when the market turned. This is all well documented, but Trump’s Comeback would not have been possible without a renegotiation with his creditors. This allowed Trump to survive without having to sell the assets which he had accumulated to that point, and set the stage for him to grow his empire not only to far greater heights, but with a far greater foundation which offered a substantial margin of safety.

The United States as a whole is need of something similar happening. I suspect, on some level, Trump is aware of the nastiness which might be involved. Back in May, he revealed as much when he suggested that the United States could simply renegotiate its debt to alleviate its problems. This set off a firestorm in the media, which posited that Trump would be threatening the pristine credit history of the US government, which had always honored its debts.

That is patently untrue, but the real cause for alarm comes from the fact that the bond market, and in turn all markets, rest on the fundamental idea that it is true. That is, US government debt is a 100% certainty to be paid on time and in full. As such, for Trump to suggest that the debt could be ‘renegotiated’ would upend world markets.

The premise from which this potential turmoil originates from is faulty however. The US does pay its debts on time, but owing to money printing exercises, it has not necessarily been paying them in full. Paying debts with printed money is to pay in a currency that is worth less than when it was borrowed. In theory, the interest rate should square the difference, but given that interest rates have been held artificially low by the Federal Reserve, a real case can be made that America’s creditors have already had involuntary renegotiations with America, which has been implicitly defaulting on its debt for years now.

What Trump mentioned in May was an explicit default. In that event, the tumult would be extraordinary, with interest rates rising precipitously, prices falling precipitously, and a temporary state of near depression ensuing, perhaps worldwide. Yet it would be the right thing to do.

The current game of kicking the can down the road and hoping for economic miracles has not worked. Consider that in the last two presidencies, each has had to double the national debt and keep interest rates at historic lows merely to maintain a period of growth with had nothing to show for it but stratospheric asset prices and a war torn planet. In the meantime wages have stagnated, home ownership has dropped, labor force participation has dropped, high paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low paying service sector jobs, and only those over the age of 55 have seen a net increase in employment.

This is the paradigm which the Keynesian academics, global central bankers and short term-ist politicians believe justifies the doubling the debt every 8 years to preserve.

In rejecting that prescription, Trump would put America in the position he himself was in in those early 1990s days, when he would tell himself repeatedly, ‘survive til 95. Survive til 95.’ It was at that point he figured that he would be able to have a proper foundation to work from, and that sustainable growth could begin.

The short term carnage which would result would no doubt be pounced on by a leftist media which will have been constantly begging for him to fail. There would be no end of horror stories describing the bankruptcies, foreclosures, layoffs, business closings and so on that would descend upon an a economy ridding itself of bad debts. These unfortunate occurrences would then be used to bolster the leftist line that Trumpism generally, with its America Fist, anti-globalist bent is a proven failure, with a view to then restoring the globalist, politically correct politics it was after all along.

Trump’s messaging  in the face of such an onslaught will have to involve the explicit illustration of our bubble-crash-new bubble cycle, and the framing of our choices as I’ve outlined.

It will be a truly Herculean task, merely because the size of the bubble is such that even the most modest worker will be involved owing to the fact he or she probably has a 401K. It will be difficult for the truism that all long term gains require short term sacrifice to gain traction when that sacrifice comes in the shape of a declining 401K or home price.

Indeed, we live in a culture which has been conditioned to crave instant gratification. The idea of saving and investing, and not seeing the fruits of that saving until years in the future is increasingly an alien concept. To impose a necessary, but painful economic downturn will be potentially suicidal to Trump’s political career, but a necessary component to a sustainable, longer term recovery.

It is because of this that there will be a strong temptation for Trump to do as his predecessors did, and to try and restart the bubble machine. However, as I’ve made clear here, it is the wrong answer. As I’ve mentioned before, I suspect that Trump does know the right answer. Indeed, his campaign was centered on having the ‘right answers’ in other areas such as immigration and foreign policy.

In these arenas his anti-status quo approach is correct. The same is true of the economy, and more specifically the debt driven consumer spending model of growth that currently drives it. That is the status quo. That has led to failure. That needs to go. Trump’s task, if he really is to go down as a great president, will be to destroy the bubble-crash-bubble paradigm and free an US economic machine, now running on savings and investment instead of cheap credit, to start once again, all the while holding the hand of a skittish public through the transition.

Election Post-Mortem: Why Trump Won And Where We Go From Here

The election is now over, and Donald Trump is the new President of the United States. I can’t say I’m surprised, I’ve been writing about Trump’s chances for about 8 months on this blog, and have been in the Trump camp since August of 2015. To me, he was always the candidate with the winning hand, and his victory was only dependent on whether he played the cards correctly.

The same can’t be said of most of the public, particularly the media and the political commentariat. Those entities have been in complete shock in the aftermath of the election. There are countless ‘How did this happen?’ style articles. I’m going to address that, and to the extent that one fails to grasp what I write here is the extent to which that individual will be lost and confused in the coming years, unable to come to terms with some of the trends which are afoot in the Western world.

The underlying theme of Trump’s victory is the breakdown of the concept that the right legislation/mandate from central authorities can cure the world’s ills. In the post World War 2 West, this concept has permeated virtually all areas of public life.

Economically, perceived ills like recessions and falling prices are believed to be ‘curable’ if central banks pursue lower interest rates and expanding the money supply. Socially, ills such as racism, sexism, homophobia and so on can be cured via flooding the culture with positive messages about diversity and tolerance. Militarily, the ills of other nations not conforming to American hegemony can be cured by imposing economic sanctions, or starting a war.

It’s highly unlikely that the average Trump voter understood that concept in the precise way I’ve described, but those voters definitely did feel the consequences. Economically, average people went from being able to afford a middle class ‘American dream’ lifestyle on one income, while saving for retirement, to needing two incomes, plus multiple credit cards to afford the same lifestyle. All of this was leading to rising prices, stagnant wages, enormous debt, and a realization that retirement may never come.

Culturally, the domination of identity politics has divided the country in innumerable ways. When individuals elevate their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation to a level above everything else as the most important thing, you set the stage for nothing but infighting. The commonalities of culture and a singular nation-state are cast aside in favor of a fluid totem pole of victimhood which is constantly changing.

Average people were getting fed up having to determine which of a gay Hispanic male or a white ‘gender fluid’ person was in the more privileged situation and thus more deserving of ostracism. They were tired of being force fed leftist viewpoints in television, movies, music and even sports. When even voicing disagreement with the leftist narrative at work or on social media can become grounds for losing one’s job, an environment ripe for backlash is created.

On the military front,the average person may or may not have known someone who had been sent off to fight in one of America’s many post WW2 excursions, but the effects were felt in other ways. Namely the wastefulness involved in spending millions on fighter jets which drop bombs worth a few hundred thousand dollars on an opposition hanging off the beds of 1990s Toyota pickup trucks wielding machine guns most likely also paid for with American dollars. All of this, while the average person embarks on a vehicular slalom course in order to avoid potholes on the daily commute.

Beyond this, our most recent adventure in Syria, initiated by Hillary Clinton in her Secretary of State days, was leading us into an inevitable war with the Russians, given Clinton’s unequivocal declaration that a No Fly Zone over the country was her aim.

 

Trump’s victory conveyed the public’s strong disappointment with these trends, if not an outright repudiation of them entirely. Change was always coming given the unsustainable nature of those trends, and in this election, Trump was the change candidate.

The immediate reaction to the election results was one of unrest. There have been riots, calls for the Electoral College to be scrapped, stress-induced delays for exam taking at universities, and an outpouring of psychiatric advice to those beset  by depression over the result.

During the campaign, Hillary Clinton often quoted Maya Angelou, saying that ‘when someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ That sentiment applies now to the leftists, who have once again shown us who they are in the reaction to Trump’s victory.

Leftists constantly made Trump out to be an authoritarian fascist during the campaign. Yet post election, they revealed themselves to be…authoritarian fascists. The supposed authoritarian tendencies of Trump and his supporters in their support of traditionalism are actually more applicable to leftists and their support of a Cultural Marxism which requires a total acceptance to avoid social ostracism. That the mere display of resistance to leftist ideas, delivered through the ballot box, can result in riots and the threat of further violence, death and potential revolution, is indicative of where the true fascistic forces emanate from in 2016.

Furthermore, there is something especially hypocritical about a group of individuals who want to eviscerate the second amendment, and view the term ‘states rights’ to be a racist dogwhistle, to then suddenly be prepared to go full Confederate South and agitate for a Civil War 2.0.  A quick perusal of the results of the election by county suggests they wouldn’t fare well.

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As you can see, the vast majority of the US by landmass voted Trump. In addition, the Clinton areas are areas which are less gun enthusiast, hunting culture, and militiamen and more gang culture and drug related violence, if we’re being truly honest. Taking the fight from big cities full of skyscrapers to the Great American Outdoors can only be a recipe for a swift and complete defeat.

That map also brings me to the Electoral College. It looks like Clinton may have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College vote, which has led to some viewing the result as unjust and therefore overturned. This displays a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the basic tenets of the United States. The US is not a straight democracy, but a constitutional republic. The system was intentionally set up to work the way it did, in that a handful of urban metropolises such as NYC, LA, Chicago and San Francisco don’t decide how the rest of the country should live.

The founding fathers understood perfectly the downsides of a straight democracy, and we should be thankful they set up the system the way they did. The call to scrap this basic tenet of America is a microcosm of the idea put forth by contemporary leftists that we should remove traditionalism in general.  This is exactly the sort of trend that prompted Americans to vote against Clinton.

In addition, the spike in mental breakdowns and general feeling of fear from leftists over the result not going their way is undoubtedly a sign that it was probably a good idea not to have such people in charge in the first place. On top of this, the display by these leftists are coming on the back of months and months of calling Donald Trump unhinged and thin skinned.

In threatening violence over a decision made by The People, and calling for banning a uniquely American aspect of government, leftists have shown that the charges of authoritarian fascism, anti-Americanism and questionable mental fortitude against Trump and his supporters have merely been a giant projection. If indeed Trump represents hate, why aren’t they showing the love they say will trump that hate? If Trump is evil and will cause families to break apart with his immigration plan, why do they respond with the pro-abortion (and thus anti-family formation) slogan ‘my body, my choice’ at demonstrations? Hypocrisy at its finest.

All of this has been aided and abetted by a mainstream media which has not only not seen and not understood the Trump phenomenon, right up until the very last hour, but has been the main megaphone blaring failed propaganda far and wide.

If you spend month after month after month hammering the idea that one candidate is Hitler reincarnated, and that candidate wins, the millions who have been duped by that message will unsurprisingly be upset, perhaps upset enough to riot. However, none of that actually makes that candidate Hitler.

A lot of the blame for the post election violence can be blamed on the media for its constant caricaturization of Trump, using hysteria to manipulate voters who perhaps tangentially paid attention to the election and thus for whom the mainstream media was the main source of information.

What was different about this election compared to others was the fact that social media and the internet generally gave the public access to all of the source material in ways never seen before. You can find every single Trump speech on Youtube, you can find analysis of them from the point of view of every single part of the political spectrum. This meant that one could directly compare the source material to the heavily distorted version the media put forth. To the extent I tuned into the mainstream media during this cycle, it was merely to ascertain how far they were distorting the truth from the source material everyone had access to.

This is why so many voted for Trump despite the media declaring he was Hitler non-stop. I’ve said several times on this blog that ultimately the media would protest too much and overplay its hand with respect to Trump being the ultimate evil. The media’s comparisons to evil would eventually force it into a box in which the label of Trump as evil be labeling the objective good in Trump’s doctrine as evil. The clearest example of this is Trump’s immigration plan, which is mostly already on the books as US law. Yet the media was relentless in calling Trump a racist and xenophobe for it, which meant that basic US law which mirrors laws in most other nations, is also racist and xenophobic. That put the media, and Clinton by extension in the position of being incredibly unreasonable.

In the end, Trump means fundamental change. It is needed, because the path we were on was unsustainable. An economy based on unlimited credit and printed money can’t survive. A society which doesn’t have a common culture, language, values and tradition is a society which has no culture. A country which picks fights with everyone not on board with its unchallenged hegemony will soon pick the wrong fight.

Trump’s victory is ultimately it is an acknowledgement that though there are many positives in society, things are nonetheless trending in the wrong direction and must be remedied. What surprises me is that this acknowledgement is being made before a sort of terminal crisis forces the issue. That is rare thing, because for most people, the present comfort acts as a deterrent to change, even if it was certain beforehand that the current path led to ruin. Voluntarily inflicting upon oneself the discomforts of change is not high on the agendas of most people, yet it is exactly what is required to achieve real progress.

Machiavelli captured this idea perfectly in The Prince:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.

Trump will face a torrent of ‘I told you so’ from all angles, particularly the media, every time his system-disturbing moves cause a problem on the surface. Most of these problems will merely be the gears of change grinding past each other. Destroying the political old order dominated by short term thinking and political expedience means taking lumps in the short run for longer term gain. Trump had plenty of experience absorbing such blows during his campaign. Indeed, Trump’s biggest hurdle in affecting real change will be quelling the wails of those who become uneasy over the mid flight turbulence.

Putting A Trump Vote In Its Proper Context

“In a mad world, only the mad are sane.”
Akira Kurosawa

 

As the election draws near, the mere fact that Trump has more than a tangible chance of winning has several in the commentariat a little unnerved. This is shown by the bevy of op-eds and columns written in recent days and weeks which all conveyed a similar point: Please, America, don’t vote Trump – We value stability more than anything else.

Alan Dershowitz, a prominent expert on the law and Harvard Law professor crystallized this sentiment this morning, speaking with Maria Bartiromo, saying:

Let me tell you why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton: We’re living in a world of extremes, the right is getting stronger, the left is getting stronger, the center is weakening. We need a centrist president to stabilize the world, Hillary Clinton promises more in terms of being a stabilizing force than Donald Trump.

On the surface, this sounds reasonable. But Dershowitz showed exactly why it isn’t less than a minute later, when he said:

Look, the problem in American politics is that donors always get special treatment – from Republicans and Democrats. Pay to play is unfortunately a sickness within the American political system, equally applicable to republicans and democrats. Let’s end that – let’s strengthen the laws, let’s de-politicize the laws.

In admitting the politics of the status quo is broken, Dershowitz renders his support for Clinton, on the basis of her ‘stability,’ an endorsement of a broken political world. This is a world which has bestowed upon Clinton a $250 million fortune, incredible power, and a shot at being the first woman to be president of the United States, forever etching her name in history. Does Dershowitz, or anyone else for that matter, really think that Hillary Clinton, having been forged in that broken political world, is going to change it in any material way? Considering her now Wikileaks-revealed duplicity vis-a-vis her public statements and those given privately to the corporate donors which back her, the idea of her being a change agent stretches credulity, to put it mildly.

And make no mistake – change is needed. The political status quo has overseen America’s slide into over-indebtedness, declining educational standards, endless war and destruction in foreign lands, record poverty levels, multi decade lows in labor force participation, and even record lows in fertility.

Indeed, America as it stands today is merely a nominal representation of the colonial experiment which commenced just over 240 years ago. It could be said that the genesis of America as a country was the biggest tax revolt in human history, yet today the populace will at the most grumble angrily to themselves as they pay ever higher taxes on an annual basis.

In its early days, America debated the merits of a monetary system based on gold and silver versus central banking and fiat currency. After some trial and error, it settled on the former. Today’s American economy now relies on the latter, to such an extent that the mere differences in language used from one public statement to the next are said to have big implications on the fate of our economy.

The Federal Government has grown to such an extent that the population as a whole expects certain things from it. This, in comparison to a Federal Government which was once small, and stayed mostly out of the way.

It is telling that quickest way to be laughed out of a ‘serious’ political conversation in 2016 is to seriously advocate an abolition of the federal income tax, a return to the gold standard, and a vastly smaller government that balances its budget, let alone all of the above. As these things were once part of the formative fabric of America, it is fair to say that we currently live in a sort of Post-America.

This is further buttressed by the fact that the Constitution has been treated as toilet paper for a very long time now. Exactly how long that is depends on the individual, but one can cite many occurrences which marked the waning influence of the Constitution. The Civil War, 16th Amendment, Federal Reserve Act, the New Deal, Executive Order 6102, the 1971 closing of the gold window, the Patriot Act, and the Affordable Care Act, among others, are all examples of the government riding roughshod over the Constitution.

I am not going to scrutinize the merits of each individual instance. I only bring them up to highlight the fact that going by strict Constitutional originalism, the document has been violated, several times, and well before June 16, 2015, the day Trump’s campaign began. In other words, from the perspective of the principles underpinning America’s birth, and continuing on through its ascent to world power, America as it currently stands is a Mad World.

Yet it is precisely those already-departed American principles, wrapped in platitudes about our 240 year Republic and its democratic heritage, that many commentators cite when declaring Trump to be the most dangerous political force in our lifetime. Consider this from David Frum:

The lesson Trump has taught is not only that certain Republican dogmas have passed out of date, but that American democracy itself is much more vulnerable than anyone would have believed only 24 months ago. Incredibly, a country that—through wars and depression—so magnificently resisted the authoritarian temptations of the mid-20th century has half-yielded to a more farcical version of that same threat without any of the same excuse. The hungry and houseless Americans of the Great Depression sustained a constitutional republic. How shameful that the Americans of today—so vastly better off in so many ways, despite their undoubted problems—have done so much less well.

 

I have no illusions about Hillary Clinton. I expect policies that will seem to me at best counter-productive, at worst actively harmful. America needs more private-market competition in healthcare, not less; lighter regulation of enterprise, not heavier; reduced immigration, not expanded; lower taxes, not higher. On almost every domestic issue, I stand on one side; she stands on the other. I do not imagine that she will meet me, or those who think like me, anywhere within a country mile of half-way.

Not only is it true that America has eschewed its strict Constitutional Republic roots, it is not true that America successfully avoided the authoritarian temptations of the 20th century. Indeed, the America that entered the fights with the Axis dictatorships and then communism looked very different to the America that came out of them. Karl Marx’s 10 planks have been more or less instituted in America. America’s Authoritarianism, however is of a softer variety. While it doesn’t have a definitive figurehead in the shape of Mussolini or Hitler, it does have a definitive ideology spearheading it: the worship of nebulous concepts such as Equalism, Diversity and Fairness.

The most heinous crimes in today’s society are that of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and so on. Transgressors are drawn out into the public square for admonishment via social ostracism. You could even lose your job over an ‘offensive’ post on Facebook or Twitter.

The rub is that the threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior is seemingly lowered by the day. The march to describe every slight as Hate Speech increasingly encroaches on that traditional American right of free speech. With respect to the election, and Trump in particular, even being neutral on his positions could get one in hot water.

That’s what happened to Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic series. According to this Washington Post piece, Adams’ once lucrative speaking engagements and licensing deals have dried up, owing to his attempts to explain to the public why Trump’s campaigning has been effective, from the perspective of well known Persuasion techniques. He has become a pariah for this.

In our Mad World of Political Correctness and over-sensitivity, this is just. For there can be no justification for things we don’t agree with, no matter how rational they are. More specifically, nothing can be allowed to impede the leftward march from America to Tumblr: The Country, and anyone who dares stand in the way will be run over.

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Indeed, Donald Trump’s real sin has been his refusal to give in to the Oversensitive Mob and give it what it wants – an acknowledgement of their frivolous charges of racism and sexism – preferably via some sort of tear-laden press conference at the mercy of the same journalists who regularly excoriate him in their columns.

What is particularly interesting about Frum is that he lists several things which in his view would be good for America. All of these things line up with what Trump plans to do, even though Frum doesn’t give him credit for that. The problem for the likes of Frum is that Trump is seemingly too mean in the way he is going about his campaigning.

What this simplistic analysis misses is a lot of the outrage generated by Trump has been intentional – a ploy to draw attention to his ideas. Trump is nothing if not a shrewd marketer and astute media manipulator. He writes about it in his books, and has had 40 years of experience with the media under his belt.

Many have been in the media have been critical of the media itself for giving him so much attention, thereby legitimizing him. You’ll often see a statistic bandied about that suggests that Trump has been given $2 billion in free exposure. The reality is that Trump earned that exposure through his media exploits of well over three decades. When Trump announced his candidacy, he instantly had 100% name recognition. News agencies really couldn’t ignore him, because they’ve never ignored him. Trump is a ratings goldmine – and media corporations live on ratings.

To be sure, the media has countered by covering him negatively, to the tune of 90% of the time according to a recent study. This has both revealed the inherent bias the mainstream media has as well as confirmed the reason why Trump campaigned the way he has. His message is an anathema to a leftist media, and as such the only way to get his message across was to wrap it in a tactical outrage.

Recall the Star of David ‘controversy’ from this summer. It started with Trump re-tweeting this image:

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The media fell over themselves to use this image as evidence of Trump being an Anti-Semite, owing to the fact that the ‘Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!’ text is in an apparent Star of David.

Of course that star could easily be a sheriff star, or a normal star you would find in Clip Art. Yet the media frothed at the mouth, pushing this story for almost a week.

This meant that all over TV and the internet, this image was shown, an image which conveys a message that Hillary Clinton is a criminal.

Through enshrouding his real messages in a layer of outrage, knowing a lapdog media would spread it far and wide for him, Trump has done nothing more than display his penchant for good marketing and media manipulation.

Indeed, Trump’s initial foray into the campaign was controversial, perhaps still his most controversial episode to date. Yes, I’m referring to the moment when he ‘called all Mexicans rapists and drug dealers.’

That was the spin, and the perception that the media spread far and wide and is still used by man as a talking point to declare Trump a racist. What Trump actually did was say that a non-zero subset of those who entered the country illegally committed further crimes once in the country, and that it was a problem. His words were objectively true. However the way in which he said them cause untold outrage which reverberates to this day.

Consider the fact that Trump’s immigration ideas are now widely considered to be racist and xenophobic by most mainstream voices. However, a rational examination of his plan reveals that the vast majority of it is already codified into US law, including the wall. What Trump seemingly wants to add is a more vigorous application of the law in spots where it is currently halfheartedly applied, and in others where it is actively opposed, such as in the case of sanctuary cities.

The outrage Trump created was needed in order to call attention to an issue which has been largely neglected for many years now. If he hadn’t done it, the discussion would have been lost in the shuffle as it had been before. By raising the temperature so to speak, Trump has forced people into a box. To call Trump a racist and xenophobe for completely reasonable ideas is to explicitly advocate lawlessness. That is precisely what a Mad World does, thus to be considered a madman by that world, as Trump is, is tantamount to being the sensible one.

In a similar vein, Trump has been accused of dividing the country. However, it not Trump, but identity politics which has divided the country. In modern America, there is an increasing trend for Americans to define themselves as such, but with a prefix attached. African-American, Muslim-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and so on. Race, class, religion, and sexual orientation are the lines along which the population is increasingly split.

This ground was tread long before Trump’s candidacy. LBJ may not have said that he’d ‘have those N*****s voting Democrat for the next 200 years,’ but he might as well have said it, given that politics has increasingly devolved to pandering to the varying subgroups in America. The resulting atmosphere is one in which your skin color, gender or sexual orientation becomes your uniform, and it is almost your duty to fight for your team lest you be called a traitor.

Trump’s message is simple: America First. In recent rallies, he has consistently conveyed the idea of Americans ‘working together as one people, under one God, saluting one flag.’ Trump has immediately taken some heat for this, particularly the ‘one God’ part, with critics citing this as evidence Trump doesn’t understand the separation of Church and State, or that it intimates a sort of exclusion for nonbelievers.

This interpretation is of course, nonsense. His words are no different to politicians proclaiming ‘God Bless America’ at the end of speeches. The ‘God’ in both instances is open to interpretation, with the listener free to insert the deity of choice to personalize the line. But recall, we’re living in a Mad World, and as such these minor quibbles are worth vast overreactions.

The interesting thing is that Trump’s words are objectively unifying. America First as a concept should be something that everyone can buy into, because individual identity characteristics don’t preclude participation in America as a concept, at least in theory.

But, again we live in a Mad Clown World, a world in which people can’t let go of Identity, because doing so would forfeit a chance at a slice of the bounty collected by grievances and outrage. It is thus the culture as a whole which has already divided itself, not wishing to unite as one people. It is the culture itself which sees little wrong with immigrants hoisting their home flags on American soil, but increasingly views the stars and stripes as an offensive symbol.

With that as a backdrop, Trump is indeed mad. But that means he is sensible.

And what of morality? Many believe that the Billy Bush tape disqualifies Trump from the presidency. The bottom line on this is that there have been several equally vulgar individuals to occupy the role, including Bill Clinton, who had assistance from one Hillary Clinton in concealing the vulgarity. If we’re being truly honest, neither candidate is clean here.

Furthermore, the culture as a whole is in no state to pass judgement on this score. I chuckled repeatedly watching the torrent of outrage and concern for the youth of America having been exposed to Trump’s words, when the likes of Miley Cyrus trotting around stages performing topless with inflatable male genitalia protruding from her crotch likely elicits little more than a shrug of the shoulders for those same people.

This hypocrisy is mirrored in the perception of Trump as unhinged, as it is pertains to foreign policy. And before I go on, a symptom of the Mad Clown World is evident in the fact that coverage of Trump’s Billy Bush moment dwarfed that of an analysis of foreign policy issues, in an age when nuclear capable world powers are positioning themselves for conflict. Sex sells, I get it, but to upstage potential nuclear war with Russia? I’d call that a bit Mad.

And on that subject, Trump is widely considered by your standard foreign policy expert to be dangerous. More frivolously, he is considered to be a national security risk because his flippant attitude may lead us to military conflict over his Twitter account, or something.

The reality is that these foreign policy experts, along with Hillary Clinton herself, have been responsible for nothing but failure for nigh on 50 years. From our excursions in Vietnam, to Kuwait, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, these status quo experts have done nothing but cause death and destruction across the globe, in the name of spreading Democracy.

It sounds like a great ideal to have, but ultimately, who are we as Americans to impose our way of life on the rest of the world? The interests of the average American, in America, haven’t been served by any of these adventures, for the most part. The only interest which has been served  is that of the Military Industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about this.

With respect to the current challenge that faces us, Syria, we face a choice of war or diplomacy. We are already fighting a proxy war against the Russians, who are assisting the Assad regime, who the US wants ousted. The official reason for this is Assad’s atrocious humanitarian record, but some suspect there is more to the story.

It involves the establishment of a natural gas pipeline, running from Qatar to Turkey, passing through Syria. The reason it is sought by the US is because such a pipeline would allow Western Europe an alternative to the Russian natural gas it currently consumes. The goal is to marginalize Russia economically, as punishment for its refusal to get with the EU/NATO program on many other issues.

It is hypothesized that Assad has denied this pipeline, out of allegiance to Russia, and as a result the US wants regime change in Syria. In response to being attacked, Assad has invited Russian forces to the country for assistance. This is where we stand now.

Hillary Clinton has been consistent in her stance that a No Fly Zone be placed over Syria, despite the only way one could be enacted would be through a declaration of war with Syria, and thus Russia. Clinton was explicitly asked about this again at the third debate a few weeks ago and was unequivocal in her response.

Make no mistake, a Hillary Clinton presidency is most likely the pretense to war with Russia, an opponent with nuclear capabilities. If the true reasoning behind the war is correct, the US would be risking nuclear war to establish a natural gas pipeline overseas. Yet, here at home, the US finds the idea of a pipeline running from Alberta to Texas, with no war required, to be untenable. That’s the status quo for you.

It is in this light that the criticism Trump gets for being ‘friendly with Putin’ needs to be examined. The reality is that the Russians don’t want war, as evidenced by the fact they did nothing when Turkey took down a Russian jet last year. Putin’s greatest sin is his refusal to bow to Western, and more specifically US hegemony in geopolitics and the world order. For that refusal to play ball, the US has tried to hit Russia economically, and it is continuing to do so with its efforts in Syria. It is playing with fire, however, as previously discussed.

Trump wants nothing to do with this, not because he is reckless, but because he correctly understands that the US has little business in directing foreign affairs in the manner it has done for decades. To the extent we already have entanglements, they must be dealt with, but in the future the goal of a Trump administration is seemingly to tamp down American Imperialism. It is too expensive, too deadly, and too historically negative in terms of the prospects for nations who pursue such expansive ambitions.

Once again, the Mad Man is sane.

This election is probably the most stark choice we’ve seen in a lifetime. It is in many ways a referendum on the constructs of the Post World War II West: Keynesian Economics, supranational unions such as the EU and NATO, the sexual revolution, central banking, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Media-Academia complex, among other things.

While Trump doesn’t explicitly repudiate all of these things, Hillary Clinton certainly would be a continuation of them. Furthermore, she would be a continuation of the status quo, a continuation of the cultural preference of Pretty Lies to Ugly Truths, a continuation of the political preference of short term expedience over long term thinking.

Even if one who is on the fence agrees with every word I’ve written thus far, a sheer, base reluctance to change will still stand in the way of pulling the lever for Trump. I completely understand that point of view. For many, the fact that the power grid still works, and we have access to our daily Starbucks means things aren’t so bad, and there is no need to ‘blow up’ the political system voluntarily.

This is akin to inheriting $100 million, blowing $98 million of it on the proverbial hookers and blow, and feeling relieved upon seeing the $2 million bank balance in a sober moment, that relief stemming from the understanding that you are still better off than 99.5% of the planet.

Unfortunately, that is us, as modern day Americans. We inherited a country from a generations of individuals who built it up into a machine which produced untold riches. With us at the wheel, we’ve been in party mode, adopting an ‘anything goes as long as it feels good’ mentality socially and a ‘spend anything – we can print the money later’ attitude when it comes to economics. That is unsustainable. It is our job to recognize that, and correct course before crisis hits.

Trump is indeed a bonafide Mad Man. But we live in a Mad World. Sanity in this context is a continued slide into the abyss, a continued swim by an unaware frog as the temperature creeps to 100 degrees C.

There’s still time to jump out of the pot.