Episode 38: Reckoning

America is due for a reckoning. We have forsaken the traditions and wisdom of our ancestors in favor of novelty, throwing out generations of knowledge in our effort to remake society and remake mankind. Yet pride always goes before the fall. The gods of the copybook headings always have their due.

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Episode 37: The End of America (As We Know It)

The coronavirus pandemic will surely be the end of America as we know it. But what is America? Our country has been radically transformed from the nation created by our Founding Fathers, and we are continuing to be transformed every day. What can we do to make America what we want it to be for our posterity?

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Episode 36: Normalcy

We tend to think that the way we live now is how it always was and how it always will be. But society is always changing; sometimes gradually, and sometimes suddenly. This pandemic is going to change many things in our lives, and we will soon be confronted with the new normal.

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Everything is Going to Change

A few days ago, I mentioned to family and friends that we were about to witness a preference cascade for canceling large gatherings and switching to remote work as much as possible. I did not expect how quickly it would occur, nor its magnitude. As I write this, the NCAA has cancelled March Madness, Major League Baseball has cancelled Spring Training and delayed Opening Day, the NBA, the NHL, and MLS have all suspended their seasons, numerous events from Coachella to SxSW to E3 have been cancelled or postponed, schools and universities throughout the country have closed indefinitely, and even Disneyland is preparing to shut down. Governments and organizations, seeing what has happened in Italy over the past two weeks, are taking the COVID-19 outbreak seriously and looking to contain or at least slow down the pandemic.

No matter what happens with the virus, these cancellations are already going to leave a mark on our economy. Think about all the industries that depend upon events and travel to survive. March Madness is a huge part of the income for hotels, restaurants, bars, and drivers in the cities that host each game. For some vendors, events like E3 or SxSW are the linchpins of their entire revenue stream. No matter what steps the government or Federal Reserve take to mitigate it, we will see a significant economic contraction over the next year.

Our nation has had recessions before. Recessions are necessary in a healthy economy, like a forest fire is occasionally necessary to burn away the deadwood and leave room for new growth. Like a fire, recessions can harm a lot of people in the process. However, once we come through, we can enjoy another long period of growth and prosperity. More interesting, I think, are the long-term societal changes that will occur due to this outbreak.

Working from home is going to become more socially acceptable. We have had the technology to enable telecommuting for decades now, but many companies have resisted thus far. Working from home means an employee is out of sight of management, which worries some bosses. Employees at home can be distracted, and collaboration is more complicated. With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing businesses to move to a work-from-home model, I think both employers and employees are going to decide that it is not so bad. Telecommuting means less traffic, and less gasoline usage. It means less eating unhealthy food for a quick lunch before getting back to your desk. It means less disease transmission. It means less overhead for office space, electricity, janitorial services, etc. Rather than paying for an entire office, a company can rent some space at a server farm and have all their workers connect remotely from the comfort of their own homes. Working from home also changes the paradigm for childcare. Rather than having to make arrangements to send children to daycare or a babysitter when school is out, they can just stay home with their telecommuting parents.

Speaking of school, this outbreak is also going to make a lot of people realize how obsolete the public school system really is. Homeschoolers have known this for years, but even normal folks are going to see how much easier it is for children to learn at their own pace using online resources than it was to send them to a seven-hour prison sentence every day. Even as local officials throughout the nation considered closing schools to try and slow down the pandemic, they hesitated. Not because they were concerned about the education of America’s children, but because the public school system has become a de facto daycare and meal service for millions of children. For a child who wants to succeed, public schools are often a hindrance. While school closures might be temporarily inconvenient, they will be a demonstration of how well a driven student can learn when he can go at his own pace and has the sum total of all human knowledge at his fingertips.

This outbreak is also going to put a dagger in the heart of globalism. For nearly thirty years now, corporations have been cutting costs by outsourcing work to developing nations. It’s cheaper to pay Chinese factory workers pennies, to manufacture products and then ship them back to America, than it was to pay American workers prevailing wages. Yet this outbreak is exposing the flaws of this design. It was bad enough that outsourcing took good jobs away from American workers, but now we see the dangers of having our supply lines controlled by a foreign, sometimes hostile, nation. With China basically shut down for two months, we are starting to see shortages of goods that we once took for granted. More than just our cheap trinkets, China supplies us with many of the raw materials we need for vital industries.

President Trump has been warning against entanglement with China for many years, even before he ran for high office. As president, he has been trying to disentangle us from China, using tariffs and new trade deals to bring manufacturing back to our own shores. This outbreak is just a minor stress test compared to what could happen in the future. Imagine if China suddenly declared war on us; what happens to our vital industries if their factories are all in enemy territory? Divesting from China and making our own stuff again will be a positive effect of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nationalism and national borders work. Nations that closed their borders early have seen only mild outbreaks, while nations like Italy that remained open have borne the full brunt of this pandemic. Viruses do not respect borders, but they require human hosts, and humans can be contained. The very concept of the quarantine is about keeping viruses immobile by restricting the movement of the people that carry them. People who use this crisis to demand open borders are dangerous ideologues who should be ignored. People who say it is racist to say “Wuhan virus” or complain about bigotry toward Asians are not serious about saving lives, rather they are just using this outbreak as an excuse to attack their political enemies and push their globalist agenda. Nationalism saves lives, while globalism kills.

If nothing else, the outbreak has been a reminder to us all about the basics of hygiene and controlling disease transmission. Antibiotics and other advances in modern medicine have left us complacent about the power of disease. In the old days, disease was a constant terror, something that could strike without warning and decimate entire nations. The Black Death killed more than a third of Europe’s citizens in the 14th century, returning several more times before fading into history. Just over a century ago, the Spanish Flu killed more people than both world wars combined. Now more than ever we should take steps to keep ourselves and our families healthy, so that when we do inevitably get this or any other viral outbreak, we are prepared to survive it.

The next few months are going to be interesting. We are going to see many companies flirting with bankruptcy, as their planned revenues go up in smoke. We are going to see new industries rising to fill the gaps as people change their daily lives to contain this outbreak. We are going to see government clumsily attempting to keep the stock market from cratering, which will probably only prolong the inevitable crash. This is all just a taste of what the future holds. The decline and fall of America is not going to look like the zombie apocalypse, but will be a series of sudden changes like this followed by eventual acceptance of the new normal. Don’t freak out, don’t panic, but do keep your head about you and be prepared to adapt and overcome.

Episode 35: The American Diseconomy

Our nation is run by a bloated bureaucracy that has become so inefficient it cannot carry out its basic functions. That has been on display this week, as our government has been unable to test for and contain the COVID-19 outbreak. What is the solution to this mess? Is it more socialism and more federal control? On the contrary, the answer to our problems is localism and small government.

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The Coming Age of Kings

We know that we live in a declining civilization. Anyone with eyes to see understands that we are not the men that our forefathers were. Our ancestors built monuments, conquered kingdoms, and tamed the vast wilderness. They crossed the oceans in wooden ships and crossed the prairies in covered wagons. They were not afraid to risk everything and venture into the unknown. Their wars were great rather than petty, and their bravery was lauded rather than mocked. Our grandparents’ generation survived the Depression, won World War II, created the atomic bomb, the computer, and the jet engine, and set foot on the moon. Yet the comfortable lives they created for us have left us soft, coddled, and weak, a condition made even worse by the knowledge that we are made for something greater than this. Author Chuck Palahniuk spoke for the men of our generations when he wrote:

We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

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In Palahniuk’s story, Fight Club, the protagonist takes this longing for greatness to an extreme, by first fighting other men barehanded in an effort to regain the vitality of life, and then by committing terrorist acts in the hope of bringing down the system that has enslaved us. I think that desire to tear down the system is latent in a lot of men today. While I’m sure most of us don’t really want to watch our families and our friends go through hell, there is something in us that would secretly welcome the breakdown of society. Author H.L. Mencken summed up this feeling when he said:

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

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I mentioned back in Episode 22 how every generation has a belief that they are the last generation on earth, and that something – climate change, Mayan prophecies, the Second Coming of Christ – is bound to happen any day now that will end everything. While some fear the apocalypse, others welcome it. While the decline of the United States is evident to most anyone at this point, there are many who are hoping for the fall to be dramatic rather than mundane. Young men throw around the word “boogaloo” to describe the hoped-for conflagration that will sweep away the remnants of our old decadent society and usher in a new era of masculine virtues. Some men buy a gun to protect their family but hope that they never have to use it; while others pray someone tries to break in that night. I think we all envy our ancestors in that they had opportunities to prove their bravery that are denied to most of us today. There are no more wild continents to win, kingdoms to conquer, or oceans to cross. “Born too late to explore the world,” the meme says, “born too early to explore the galaxy.”

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I think this explains some of the reaction to the recent coronavirus outbreak this year. Some dismiss the whole thing as overblown, but many are prudently stocking up on food and medical supplies, just in case the worst happens. A few, however, secretly wish for this to be the apocalyptic event of our lifetimes. Is it any wonder than stories about the end of the world are so popular? We watch movies like Planet of the Apes, 28 Days Later, or the Matrix, vicariously living through an apocalyptic tale where the shackles of polite society are lifted, and we can hoist the black flag.

Rather than surviving the modern world by knowing the bus schedule and how to move data from one computer system to another, we would instead survive by our strength, our wits, and our courage. As boys, many of us grew up reading books like “Hatchet” and “My Side of the Mountain” and dreamt of having the chance to live off the land, untethered from our ordinary lives. Sure, Tom Hanks looked like he went through hell in the movie Castaway, but I think there is a little part of all men that wants a chance to test themselves against unforgiving nature. Trees and plants grow best when properly pruned, and forests need the occasional fire to clear out the deadwood and make room for new growth. Our founding fathers understood this well. Thomas Jefferson expected that each generation would have to fight its own revolution, saying:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

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The post-World War II generations illustrate a decline from glory. The men who won the war came home looking for a quieter life. They invented the concept of the suburb, a neighborhood that was neither in the city nor the country, where families could gather together and raise children in peace and safety. The men who performed heroic deeds in the war rarely talked about them. They had nothing to prove, to themselves or to anyone else, and would rather focus on living a peaceful life and raising a happy family. Yet something went wrong. Masculine virtues began to be redefined by a media interested only in selling more junk. For the first time, television enabled images of war to be beamed directly into our living rooms. The carnage in Vietnam was surely no worse than in World War II, yet now we could see the things that our grandfathers had refused to speak of. The pointlessness of the war was the worst part. Unlike the clearly defined good and evil of World War II, we watched our young men killing and dying in the jungles of Indochina for no apparent reason. Our society took the wrong message from the failure of Vietnam, deciding that masculinity itself was barbaric and must be bred out of the human race.

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In the 1970s, women began entering the workforce in greater numbers. Rather than being our partners in raising strong families, women became competitors for raises and promotions, and beneficiaries of government welfare. Media propaganda started convincing women that they should take on the most extreme characteristics of masculinity – aggression, assertiveness, and even violence. Our current cultural landscape promotes a view of women that strips away her femininity and leaves her consumed by traits that would be considered brutish in a man. More than one book has been written telling women that they need to interrupt more in business meetings. The newest Star Wars and Marvel movies feature female characters whose only flaws are that they are not assertive and violent enough. The feminine virtues such as empathy, kindness, caring, nurturing, and beauty are downplayed as relics of a sexist patriarchy. Women are told that they should not worry about how they look, as if there is no objective difference between a thin and lovely woman with long hair on one side and an obese tattoo-covered purple-haired grouch on the other. Feminists tell a young woman that it is wrong to do nice things for her husband or her children, and that she should put herself first.

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On the other hand, the same propaganda teaches men to act like the most extreme versions of women. The modern man is supposed to be submissive and meek, quietly standing back while women run the show. He is told to be open about his feelings and to wear his emotions on his sleeve. Ambition is shunned while physical fitness is downplayed. “Real men,” they say, should not worry about how strong or fit they are or how much testosterone they have. They should be satisfied with their weak soy grip and their “dad bod” pot belly. While it was called a crisis when standardized test scores showed girls falling behind in math and science, boys falling behind in other subjects is considered right and normal. Society wants us to be mediocre, and since mediocrity is the path of least resistance, most men today settle for just that.

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The modern American diet doesn’t help either. Our ancestors lived off of meat, but today meat is shunned as barbaric and out-of-date. Modern men are expected to eat soy, industrial seed oils, and ultra-processed meals that come out of a box. Modern men assume that it is normal to be fat and weak by the time they reach their 40s, and that heart disease and diabetes are simply things that inevitably happen when you get old. What can you do? The conspiracy theory would be that governments and corporations know that weak, sick men are easier to control than the kings we used to be. The reductive view is just as likely, however. Corporations create food that is cheap to make and addictive to the consumer in order to maximize profits. “Bet you can’t have just one,” the old potato chip commercial said. Health is a secondary consideration, and even then, only in so far as they can advertise according to the conventional wisdom of the day. The anti-meat crusades of the late 20th century enabled food manufacturers to replace healthy fat with poisonous sugar and carbohydrates and then market their products as “healthy”. Big Tobacco was broken in the 1990s because they used drugs and advertising to create a product that was addictive and attractive. Big Food has yet to meet their own reckoning, despite causing untold millions of early deaths with their own poisonous products.

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The 1990s saw the first stirrings of awakening by American men to the spiritual quagmire they found themselves in. Fight Club was written in 1996 and adapted into a popular movie the following year. In the early 2000s, bloggers began writing about the struggles faced by modern men and sharing ideas on how to break out of our cultural ennui. Men woke up and realized that they had no power in American life. They had been taught that America was the land of the free, but they found themselves working mindless 9-5 jobs in order to pay for the mortgage, the car payment, and the numerous useless distractions that make up the modern life. The woman you married could, at any time, leave you, take away your children and your possessions, and use the force of government to confiscate all your money for the next twenty years. It was bad enough before, when the government took a third of your paycheck to fund foreign wars and welfare programs. Now you have to pay the rest to the woman who betrayed you and the children you are no longer allowed to see. The American man was once a king, and his home a castle, but today we are reduced to chattel. Is it any wonder that the male suicide rate has been ticking steadily upwards for decades now?

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Some of the early blogs focused on men’s rights or social issues, but it was the pick-up blogs that really struck a nerve. While some men saw the state and direction of society and wanted to go back to the golden age of the past, the pick-up artists instead decided that since the world was burning anyway, they might as well have fun while they could. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die,” said the prophet Isaiah in the Bible. Or, as “Captain Capitalism” Aaron Clarey says, “Enjoy the decline.” The three most prominent pick-up bloggers were Rollo Tomassi, Roosh V, and Roissy, who later called himself Heartiste. Each of these initially used their platforms to teach young men how to meet and seduce women, and men flocked to their blogs and forums seeking this forbidden knowledge. These nascent communities began to realize that meeting women was not an end unto itself.

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What these young men truly yearned for was an escape from the soul-sucking modern culture that tried its best to emasculate them. In bloggers such as Roissy and Roosh they found stark truths that were not being told in schools or in churches. Many Christian churches were still stuck in a post-World War II mindset, teaching young men that they must just be themselves, find a good girl to marry, and God would take care of the rest. They failed to see that modern society had turned against Christianity and masculine virtue, so disillusioned young men sought answers elsewhere. Author C.S. Lewis actually identified the problem more than half a century earlier, writing in The Abolition of Man:

In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

The Christianity of modern America has become feminized and trite, failing to provide an alternative to our lost culture and instead reinforcing its worst aspects. The masculine heroes of the modern church are not strong biblical leaders like Moses, David, or Jesus Christ Himself, nor bold men of history like Alfred the Great, Roger Williams, or Billy Graham. Today, the alpha male of the modern church is a skinny-jeans-wearing latte-sipping tattooed pierced worship nasally-voiced worship pastor.

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These blogs eventually moved beyond simple pick-up tips, as their communities began to question what it meant to be a man. They came to the same conclusion as King Solomon who lamented that all the pleasures of the world had left him empty. Three thousand years ago he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me… and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” The men of these online communities found that they wanted more than fleeting pleasures, but instead longed for what their fathers and grandfathers had: a family that loved and relied upon them, a society that supported these bonds, and a God worth believing in.

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Roosh V is the most interesting story to come out of the so-called manosphere. He made his name in the 2000s writing books and blog posts teaching young men how to sleep with as many young women as possible. He traveled the world, exploring exotic locations and interacting with all manner of women, and then reported his results. He seemed to recognize early on that this was not the ultimate goal of life, however. He created a web forum called Return of Kings that invited those disillusioned young men to come and share stories of how they were triumphing over the malaise of modern culture. He tried to organize real-life meetups, but these were disrupted by feminists and soy-boys who could not tolerate free-thinking masculinity. When he lost his sister to cancer a few years ago, Roosh took the final step on his journey from libertinism back to tradition. He became a Christian, joining the Orthodox Church of his Armenian ancestors, and unpublished all of his books that taught men the art of fornication.

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I believe that Roosh has taken the same journey that many thousands of anonymous men have made over the past two decades. We awoke to the realization that our culture is actively trying to stifle and harm us, and turned to hedonism – using women, movies, video games, or anything to try and retain some happiness in life. After a while, we realized that these were empty pursuits, and we wanted more. Rather than seeing the decline and fall of America as an excuse to live free of responsibility, we now see it as an imperative to build families and communities that will not only survive the fall, but thrive as we build the next phase of western civilization. There is no guarantee of success in this endeavor. The forces of malaise and mediocrity have grown powerful, and their boot is upon our necks. But our calling is a noble one. Each of us has only one life to live on this earth, and death awaits us all. What will you leave behind when you are gone? A collection of video games, or a growing family that honors your memory as a man who had a life worth living?

Thomas Babington Macaulay said it well in his Lays of Ancient Rome:

Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods?

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We all know deep inside that something is not right in our society and that we were made for better things. The time has come to stop lamenting the loss of a past age of kings and start building a new one. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn claims the crown he was born to wear after proving his courage and bravery in defeating the armies of the Dark Lord. In Tolkien’s mythology, kings were a special breed of men. They were tall and strong, with unmatched wisdom and knowledge, and their very hands could heal the sick. Not just any man could take up the throne and declare himself king; Aragorn did so because he had the right bloodline and ancestry. He was not a usurper but was instead coming into his rightful inheritance. It was Tolkien’s view that enlightened monarchy was the best choice for human government, however he qualified that by explaining that there were no more men left that he would trust in such a position.

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Unlike Aragorn, we do not have Elves or angels in our ancestry, but we are made in the image of God. Our mortal bodies were created to manifest, in a small way, the incomprehensible glory of God himself. As children of the Most High God, we are princes, we are kings of our own domains, accountable for our actions and our stewardship to the King of Kings Jesus Christ. Our kingdoms are bequeathed to us by our fathers and their fathers, who worked and fought and died in order to pass on their heritage to us. Do not let malaise, propaganda, and the path of least resistance steal that heritage from you. Our calling is not to grow fat and sick while simply counting the days until our inevitable death. We are heirs of three thousand years of western civilization, of Solomon and Alexander, Bach and Beethoven, Rembrandt and Raphael, Shakespeare and Cervantes, Augustine and Aquinas. Don’t be the one to drop the baton. Don’t let the flame of the west be extinguished forever. My fellow kings, the task of building the next civilization rests with you.

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Defeating an Incumbent President is Nearly Impossible

If Donald Trump wins reelection in November, it will mark an unprecedented four consecutive two-term presidents. The last time there were three was in the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe all served two terms. John Quincy Adams, elected in 1824, failed to win reelection when he was defeated by Andrew Jackson’s populist uprising. History shows us that unseating the incumbent president is always a long shot.

The last time a president lost his bid for reelection was nearly thirty years ago, when President George H.W. Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton. The 1992 election, however, was a perfect storm of problems for the elder Bush. Mere months before the campaign, Bush enjoyed a level of popularity few presidents could even dream of after the successful Gulf War. However, a worsening economy soured voters on the president, especially when he broke his explicit pledge to not raise taxes. Many Republicans turned to the insurgent campaign of independent candidate Ross Perot, who promised a businesslike approach to government. NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was being debated at the time and had support from both parties. Perot warned that free trade would lead to massive outsourcing and a decline of manufacturing jobs in America. (History has obviously proved him right on this count.)

The Democratic field that year was initially weak, as nobody wanted to challenge the popular president. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton ended up with the nomination, and presented himself as a young, hip, empathetic figure, contrasted with the older, unflappable, President Bush. Bush was a member of the Greatest Generation, who had fought in World War II – Bush himself had been shot down over the Pacific. Clinton, on the other hand, was a Baby Boomer, young and fresh-faced, who came out of the hippy movement of the 1960s. Clinton had avoided the Vietnam War, which hurt him with military veterans. However, with Perot splitting the conservative / libertarian vote, Clinton came out on top, despite falling well short of a majority of the popular vote.

Since then, no president has lost his bid for a second term. Clinton easily defeated Bob Dole in 1996, as a strong economy and few foreign conflicts gave voters no reason to change. In 2004, President George W. Bush improved on his initial numbers from 2000, defeating the weak John Kerry. Finally, despite a poor economy, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in 2012. Of all the reelection campaigns in recent memory, this one should have been harder for the sitting president. The economy, which had crashed just before Obama took office, was still incredibly weak. Unemployment was high and wages were down. The Republicans nominated what they thought would be a solid ticket: Mitt Romney was a former governor and businessman and running mate Paul Ryan was known as a budget guy and policy wonk. Yet Obama basically coasted to reelection. Why?

For one, there was no Ross Perot in 2012. The populist nationalism that would explode in 2016 through Donald Trump was still simmering beneath the surface. The Tea Party movement, originally formed in reaction to Obama’s tax and healthcare positions, had long ago been coopted by the GOP establishment who redirected its energy toward the usual Chamber of Commerce platform of low taxes without regard to the national questions of immigration and culture. Romney himself tended to treat Obama with kid gloves, even as the president and his surrogates ferociously savaged Romney in the campaign, even going so far as accusing him of killing a man because Romney’s company had laid him off at one point.

So, what does that mean for the 2020 election? If you go to any left-wing social media group, you might come away thinking that Donald Trump is the most unpopular president in history, and that the Democrats could run a mannequin and still win easily. However, this ignores both history and the preferences of the country as a whole. Trump won in 2016 by promising to control the border, renegotiate trade deals, bring our troops home, and fix the economy. While his work on the border is ongoing, he is making progress – illegal crossings have significantly decreased in recent months. He has taken care of bad trade deals, is working on withdrawing troops, and the economy is booming. While the COVID-19 outbreak might cause some economic issues, it might well recover by Election Day. In short, the president has kept most of his promises and the economic situation of most American people is better now than it was four years ago.

An incumbent president has access to the largest megaphone in the world. Every tiny utterance of President Trump is headline news. More than 73 million people follow the president on Twitter, receiving messages unfiltered by mainstream media. For many low-information voters, picking a candidate is more about brand recognition than policy positions. Who in America has a more well-known brand than Donald Trump?

The current crop of Democratic contenders does not inspire confidence, either. In 1992, the Democrats nominated Bill Clinton, who was able to create a large contrast with President Bush. In 2020, the Democrats will be nominating either the outright socialist Bernie Sanders or the fanciful and forgetful Joe Biden. Both men are, believe it or not, older than President Trump! Because the odds of ousting an incumbent president are so high to begin with, that is the time to swing for the fences and take a chance with your nominee. The Democrats are either too afraid to step outside mainstream conventional wisdom, or they believe their own hype about Trump’s vulnerability.

Barring some black swan event in the next nine months, Donald Trump will be reelected and become the fourth consecutive president to serve two terms. In the late Roman Republic, power grew increasingly concentrated into the hands of a few, as single-term consuls were replaced by men serving many consecutive terms, and eventually into dictators-for-life like Sulla and Caesar. I hope that President Trump is able to use his second term to finish the job of draining the swamp, otherwise he will end up being only a speed bump in the decline and fall of America.

Episode 34: The Return of Kings

At the core of the decline of our once-great nation is the loss of masculine virtues such as courage, strength, and discernment. The American man has gone from being a king of his castle to chattel on a tax farm. But men are waking up, and deciding that there is more to life than simply counting the days until their deaths. Men across America are making the choice to take control of their lives and to build something that will echo through eternity.

Listen here, or listen, subscribe, and review on iTunes.

Notes:

Roosh V: How I Turned to God

StoneToss: Divine Right

The Book of Ecclesiastes

The Alternative Media

Each new generation develops its own way of sharing ideas. While the printing press, telephone, radio, and television all shifted the paradigm of how ideas propagate throughout a culture, the development of the internet and social media have exponentially accelerated that shift. The 1930s generation listened to President Roosevelt on the radio, the Baby Boomers grew up watching television, and even Millennials grew up watching cable news. No generation has had the sheer variety of news sources as Generation Z has today, however, and it is this variety that is shaping our world today.

The 2010s especially saw an explosion of alternative media channels, and the lines between content creator and content consumer became increasingly blurred. While the network and cable news organizations struggled to maintain their control over the flow of information, social media and YouTube allowed anyone with a voice to attract an audience. Four million people tuned in to watch Tucker Carlson last week, leading all evening cable news hosts. More than six million people watched the most recent Democratic presidential primary debate, a new record. Meanwhile, Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, better known as Pewdiepie, has more than a hundred million subscribers on his channel. Sure, that is quite an outlier – Pewdiepie has been the most-subscribed content creator on earth for half a decade now. Yet it is clear that Generation Z is influenced much more by personalities on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram than they are by the legacy media.

Generation Z would often rather watch a Twitch streamer than play video games, and watch YouTubers break down a movie rather than watch it themselves. Whereas video games in my generation were stigmatized as an anti-social activity, gaming for younger people is inherently social, whether they are walking about playing Pokemon on their phones or voice chatting with their friends while playing Minecraft or Fortnite together. The younger generations are looking outside the traditional information channels, and the established media does not like losing their gated pasture. When legacy media celebrated the recent banning of Generation Z conservative Nicholas Fuentes from YouTube, they claimed it was because they oppose so-called “hate speech”. However, the real reason seems to be that they simply do not like the competition. Established news organizations have long enjoyed their position as the gatekeepers of knowledge in America, but their ability to control the flow of information is quickly dissipating in the modern era of social media.

Social media has changed the way in which ideas spread throughout a culture. In the long ages before the printing press, ideas were transmitted slowly. Books were hand-copied by monks, which meant only the rich could afford them. Traveling storytellers and bards brought cultural ideas from place to place at the speed of horse, or even slower if they traveled on foot. Culture developed and changed extremely slowly, because new ideas could only spread slowly. The printing press democratized ideas by making books cheap enough that most people could afford them, which spurred advancement in nearly every field. The Protestant Reformation, for example, followed directly on the heels of the printing press as lay people could suddenly afford to buy their own Bibles and see what they actually said instead of only relying on the clergy. The Renaissance began just a few years later as lost knowledge of the classical world began spreading again. It was the printing press that enabled American patriots to spread their ideas of revolution throughout the thirteen colonies. Thomas Paine could write up a pamphlet, print a thousand copies, and have them handed out to people from Boston to Virginia, spreading his seditious ideas very rapidly through colonial society.

It was this spread of ideas that sparked the American Revolution. In societies where information is tightly controlled, it is sometimes difficult to gauge how popular your own position is compared to your friends and neighbors. Sure, you could talk openly, unless you’re in East Germany or North Korea, but even then you still have the bubble effect, where you might assume that your views are more popular than they really are because you surround yourself with like-minded people. Pamphlets in pre-revolutionary America showed people that they were not alone, as writers such as Paine put into words what a lot of people were already thinking.

If the printing press democratized ideas, social media is democracy on steroids. Someone like Thomas Paine still needed access to an expensive printing press, not to mention the infrastructure for delivering those pamphlets after printing. Today, the world is full of bloggers, YouTubers, Twitch streamers, Twitter personalities, and Instagram influencers. Whereas Paine’s pamphlets could reach thousands in Colonial America and Great Britain, modern influencers can reach a worldwide audience using nothing more than a smartphone. You could even run a successful blog with no investment besides a library card if you really wanted to. Despite their claims of devotion to democracy, legacy media is doing everything they can to stop this information explosion. CNN recently aired a segment explaining that they are the only news source trustworthy enough to tell you that a banana is a banana and an apple is an apple. Washington Post added the slogan “Democracy dies in darkness” to its masthead, even as wages an endless campaign against the democratically elected president. The mainstream outlets have also used every trick in the book to try to silence and censor alternative sources of information. They have used their influence to get people and groups they disagree with banned from Twitter and YouTube, and sometimes even dox anonymous content creators. These mainstream organizations had grown powerful in their position as the gatekeepers of ideas, and they very much would like that position back.

The founders of our country recognized the importance of the spread of ideas in their own revolution and crafted the First Amendment to guarantee the rights of free speech and a free press. Modern technology has enabled anyone with internet access to have their own printing press, so to speak. Despite this, legacy media insinuates that the First Amendment protects journalists as a class, and they use that logic to justify their censorship of alternative voices who are not, in their view, legitimate press. Even conservative media has fallen into this pattern. During the 1990s and 2000s, conservative media played the role of counterculture to the left’s media monopoly. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh were rebels against a censor-hungry mainstream media. Today, however, the conservative media establishment uses the same tactics as the left to shut down ideas from their right. Last autumn, America First groups led by Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey tried to engage the establishment conservatives of TP USA and Fox News. The establishment cabal, led by milquetoast conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk, responded by calling them racist and trying to get them banned and deplatformed – the exact same thing that they accused left-wing media of trying to do to them. Despite the mantra about competing in the marketplace of ideas, it seems that powerful conservatives are no different in their desire to be gatekeepers of truth than their counterparts on the right.

Yet as the early internet pioneers liked to say, information wants to be free. It is hard to destroy an idea once it is out in the open. There is something called the Streisand Effect on the internet that describes what happens when the rich and powerful try to censor an idea. It was named after actress, singer, and general narcissist Barbra Streisand, who in 2003 tried to remove pictures of her Malibu mansion from the web. This backfired spectacularly, as the attention generated caused people to share the pictures far and wide out of spite and anger that someone would attempt such censorship. The act of trying to hide the information made it even more popular than before. The more technology enables ideas to be spread more quickly and easily, the more difficult it is to censor those ideas. In the 1500s, ideas were spread when the literate class read books, but only those with presses could write them. In the 1900s, ideas were spread by the television to the masses, but only a few companies controlled the airwaves. In 2020, ideas are spread by clicking “share” on a 50 kilobyte meme, and that is hard to stop.

The word “meme” was coined in 1976 by biologist Richard Dawkins to describe the way in which a concept or idea spreads and evolves as it moves through a population. This compares with the way a gene that contains biological information changes through many generations of reproduction. Like genes, a meme can spread through a culture, becoming subtly altered as it comes into contact new people. In modern web parlance, a meme is usually a picture with some text that spreads through various online communities. There is no way to predict or control how or why any particular meme will become popular. Big corporations and established politicians have tried to engineer their own memes, but they usually fail. Many of the most popular memes over the last two decades were started by anonymous users on 4chan and from there spread to other social networks.

Let’s talk about 4chan for a moment. You might have heard it described by mainstream news as a scary place on the internet, where hackers collude and where anti-social young men plot evil deeds. In reality, 4chan began as an image board for anime fans. Because of its entirely anonymous nature, it quickly gained a following for people who wanted to rebel against the established culture. There have always been countercultures in the world. The beatniks and hippies of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s were themselves counter to the prevailing culture of the day, which was socially conservative. At some point, these rebels grew up and took control of the culture, becoming the very “man” they once raged against. Today’s counterculture is conservative and traditional, because it is those things that are being crushed by the dominant forces of social justice. When 4chan began it was full of Millennials rebelling against the social order of the late 90s and early 2000s. Today, it is full of Generation Z – Zoomers – who are rebelling against the globalist homosexual multicultural social justice establishment of 2020. Concepts such as reading the Bible, going to church, marrying and building a family – these are the countercultural ideas being spread among the younger generations today.

Let’s look at an example of how a meme can influence people in a way that you might not expect. The pro-life movement began in 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that states did not have the authority to ban abortion. Despite billions of dollars, despite nearly fifty years of Republican politicians campaigning on promises to outlaw abortion, this barbarous practice still occurs routinely across America. The pro-life movement has tried to change hearts and minds, but it is a slow process, especially in the face of our dominant media and culture that treats abortion as if it were a secular sacrament. Pro-life activists march on the Capitol every January, proclaiming their support for unborn children, while various advertising campaigns have been tried with little success. The general idea in our culture is that the pro-life movement is made up of old church ladies, or worse of evil men who just want to exercise control over women’s bodies. Conventional wisdom says that young people are growing more pro-abortion every year. However, there is a traditional counterculture that goes unseen by both the left and the right, and they are generation ideas in a new way. I came across a meme recently, one that likely originated on 4chan but eventually found its way to Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and other social media. It shows childlike drawings of boys and girls, calling them “aborted older brother,” “aborted daughter,” and “aborted sister”. The “aborted daughter” meme has statements written in crayon such as “Hi Mommy, I miss you. It’s ok, I’m glad you have a good life.” The “aborted sister” meme has others, such as “I wish I could hug you. I’m sure Mommy had a reason; did I do something bad to her?” These concise memes have probably done more to change the minds of young people on abortion than half a century of the pro-life movement.

Clausewitz said that politics is war by other means. Well, memes are information by other means. Older generations always complain that young people have short attention spans. In that case, memes can deliver a lot of relevant information in just a few seconds. It is not just the younger generations, however. Life moves fast in 2020. Nobody wants to sit down and watch three hours of dignified debating, as we did in 1858 when Abraham Lincoln challenged Stephen Douglas for the Senate. We ingest information as fast as possible – Twitter is 280 characters or less, TikTok videos are only a few seconds long, and memes are just a single image with only a few words. President Trump has fully embraced this new reality, and he uses his Twitter feed in the same way that President Roosevelt used radio in the 1930s. Trump can easily bypass the gatekeepers of knowledge and connect directly to the people. Vox Day has written much on the difference between rhetoric and dialectic. While we like to think that we are logical beings who appreciate a rationality, the truth is that most people respond more to emotional rhetoric than to a reasoned argument. This is not a new concept; Aristotle was saying the same thing more than two millennia ago. Memes are a terrific method of transmitting ideas because they are almost entirely rhetorical, but often carry with them the seed of logic that grows into a rational idea the more you see it.

The other advantage to memes is that they are almost infinitely applicable. Ever since there were newspapers, there have been political cartoonists. Political cartoons are not usually amusing, rather they serve to jam a bunch of ideas into a single box that preaches to the choir, whether on the right or the left. In the late 19th century Thomas Nast famously began using a donkey to represent the Democratic Party and an elephant to represent the Republicans, and that shorthand has stuck. Perhaps the closest analogue to the old political cartoons is the webcomic. There is one in particular that has hit the cultural zeitgeist like no other and that is Stonetoss. According to the social justice left, the author of Stonetoss is a Nazi who should be banned and censored. A better term, however, would be iconoclast – the sort of person who relentlessly skewers the politically establishment in the way that the left used to appreciate when they were not culturally dominant. I have found a few Stonetoss comics that communicate a certain message in three or four panels better than an entire essay. Here is the example I mentioned in last week’s podcast:

Stonetoss - Burgers

This single comic so succinctly demonstrates how advertising has turned into a propaganda platform for social justice warriors who want to remake society, with no thought to the product they are ostensibly trying to sell. Lest you think that this satire is unrealistic, there was recently a fast food ad that did exactly what the comic suggests, showing more footage of a homosexual couple than any of the food that they want to sell.

The genie is out of the bottle and there is no going back. As much as the rich and the powerful establishment would like to impose 1984-style censorship on us, the existence of the internet has made it possible to share ideas at the speed of light. Now that the globalist left is culturally dominant, it was only natural that a traditional and conservative counterculture would develop as young people seek an alternative to the degeneracy and misery of our modern world. While Orwell said in 1984 that if there was hope it lies with the proles, John Derbyshire summed up our modern world when he said that if there is hope today, it lies in the comments section. Mainstream media has their narrative, but the truth will find a way out as long as there are people brave enough to question what they have been told. There might be no way to stop the decline and fall of America, but, like our revolutionary fathers, the ideas we pass around today will form the basis of our new society in the future.

Here is a list of alternative media sources that I suggest you follow. It is by no means exhaustive. Some are meme or comic artists, some are independent journalists, and some are amateur pundits and commentators. Check them out, bookmark them, and follow them on multiple platforms in case they get banned from the mainstream sites.

Andy Ngo

Audacious Epigone

David Hines

Heather Heying

John Derbyshire

Men of the West

Michelle Malkin

Nicholas Fuentes

Orwell & Goode

Raheem Kassam

Ron Unz

Roosh V

Ryan James Girdusky

Scott Adams

Scott Greer

Stefan Molyneux

Steve Cortes

Steve Sailer

StoneToss

Tim Pool

Woke Capital

 

Episode 33: The War of Ideas

The way in which younger generations communicate might seem crazy to their elders. However, there is a traditional and conservative counterculture growing in the shadows of social media today. The meme is a modern equivalent of the revolutionary-era pamphleteer, spreading ideas outside the bounds of our gatekeepers of knowledge.

Listen here, or listen, subscribe, and review on iTunes.

Notes:

StoneToss

Nick Fuentes

The abortion meme

Parallel Justice

We all know the image of Lady Justice, best represented by the statue atop the Old Bailey in London. In one hand she holds a scale, to determine the truth, and in the other she wields a sword, to dispense punishment. Her eyes are often depicted blindfolded, because justice is supposed to concern itself only with the facts of a case, not the wealth, ethnicity, or character of the accused. This ideal has been turned on its head in modern society. Today we have two parallel tiers of justice in America: One for the rich, the powerful, and the politically-favored, and another for the rest of us.

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Last week, the Justice Department announced that it would not be charging former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe with a crime, despite the fact that he publicly lied under oath. Ironically, it is this same crime that was allegedly committed by General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s original choice for National Security Advisor. The FBI asked to interview Flynn, ostensibly about the allegation of election interference, but they concealed their intention of targeting him specifically. There is evidence that the FBI agents who conducted the interview were extreme anti-Trump partisans who deliberately altered their records of what Flynn said in the interview in order to indict him for supposed perjury. While Flynn has had the book thrown at him for more than three years now, McCabe got away with the same infraction.

We see this same process at work all over our government. The Mueller investigation targeted Trump confidant Roger Stone with various process crimes, and prosecutors recently recommended a sentence of nine years for the old man. That is more than many violent rapists or drug dealers receive. The Mueller team previously charged former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort with various minor crimes, but was able to put him in jail, and he was in fact kept in solitary confinement on the orders of an anti-Trump judge. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta is free, despite doing some of the same things. In fact, Podesta and Manafort actually worked together with the same firm when the crimes were supposed to have occurred. Clinton herself committed numerous crimes during her tenure as Secretary of State for President Obama, but the FBI and Justice Department declined to charge her with anything. However, other not-so-famous people who were charged with similar crimes were put in prison without mercy.

Another example in the news recently involves the opioid fentanyl which is responsible for thousands of overdose deaths in recent years. John Kapoor, former head of the drug company Insys, was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. However, fraud is putting it lightly. Kapoor and his company were found to have not only pushed for their fentanyl-containing drug Subsys to be massively overprescribed, but they even bribed doctors to get it into as many hands as possible. The FDA estimates that more than eight thousand people died as a direct result of Kapoor’s malfeasance. On the other hand, low-level drug dealers are often given much longer sentences, despite only being responsible for one or two deaths. Why is the former CEO given such a light sentence?

I could go on. Whether or not you are charged and convicted of a crime in America today depends greatly on who you know and how much political power you wield. Democrats accused President Trump of election tampering because he wanted to investigate obvious corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently running in the Democratic presidential primary. Apparently, investigating possible criminal activity by a candidate is “election tampering”. According to this logic, simply declaring oneself a candidate for high office is enough to insulate you from any criminal investigation. On the other hand, these same Democrats had no problem with Obama’s FBI investigation Trump’s campaign team, and that investigation continuing into the Trump Administration itself. This is simply “who, whom” from the Democrats – anything that undermines their enemies is by definition good, while anything that attacks their own corruption is by definition bad. While this is a perfectly rational strategy for obtaining and maintaining power, it has nothing to do with the American idea of equality before the law.

The ancient world had no law under which nobility and peasantry alike were ruled. Laws were laid down by one king, then amended or replaced by another. Priests often had their own set of laws that they enforced. Outside of civilization it was simply the law of the jungle. The idea of the “Common Law,” a set of rules that was straightforward, everlasting, and applied equally to all, was one of the most important bedrocks in the development of Western Civilization. Before this concept was defined, law was simply a tool wielded by the powerful to use against everyone else. The idea that a king should have to follow the law that he gave his subjects was nearly unthinkable. Laws really were for the little people. In theory, the king was God’s representative on earth, and it was his job to sit in judgment of his people. Forcing the king to follow the law made no sense under this system. When the English nobility forced King John to sign Magna Carta in 1215 it was a watershed moment in the development of human rights. The men present at Runnymede that day declared that no man – not even the king – was above the law.

Magna carta

The Common Law also meant consistency, so that men knew what the law was from one day to the next. Even as late as Renaissance-era England, Parliaments could pass what was called a Bill of Attainder that declared, without a judge or jury, that a particular man was guilty of a particular crime. Parliaments would also pass “ex post facto” laws – making something that was legal yesterday illegal today, and then prosecuting people based on what they did yesterday. Both of these things were explicitly banned by the US Constitution. The philosophy of the Common Law was deeply ingrained in the founding fathers of the United States, permeating everything they wrote. The Constitution was written to be the supreme law of the land, above presidents and congressmen and judges, setting up a balance of power so that no one man could, like Julius Caesar two thousand years ago, amass ultimate authority in our nation. The founders built into the Constitution an amendment process that required super majorities of both Congress and the States, preventing one faction or party from altering the Constitution on a whim to serve their short-term interests.

constitution

The US Constitution disallows bills of attainder, as well as ex post facto laws. However, the modern bureaucratic state has found ways around these proscriptions. For example, Congress cannot pass bills of attainder that declare someone guilty, but they can endlessly investigate and subpoena anyone for any reason, and if that person says anything that is less than one hundred percent truthful, even if it is an innocent mistake, they are prosecuted and imprisoned for perjury. The FBI routinely pulls this stunt, as they did with General Flynn. It is a cheap trick to use when you cannot convict someone for actual crimes. Ex post facto laws might not be allowed, but our legal code has become so convoluted that it is often hard to tell at any given moment what is lawful and what is not.

The Constitution also disallows double jeopardy, a system in which the state could continue to prosecute someone until they succeeded in getting a jury to convict him. Today, once you are exonerated in a jury trial, you cannot be tried again for the same crime. The way around this is to use civil court to do what criminal court cannot. O.J. Simpson was acquitted by a jury in his criminal trial for the murder of his ex-wife and her lover, but his former in-laws successfully sued him in civil court for “wrongful death” and were able to deprive him of most of his fortune. While most Americans would agree that Simpson was clearly guilty, something about the way he was punished seems antithetical to the American ideal of justice.

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The use of process crimes to obtain convictions that were not otherwise possible has been around for a while. The Treasury Department famously could not find enough evidence to convict Chicago mobster Al Capone of illegal activities, but they could prosecute him for not paying taxes on his ill-gotten fortune. Obviously, Capone did not report his illegal revenues on his tax returns. As with O.J. Simpson, taking down Capone was clearly a good thing, the way it was done was surely another chip in the foundation of the Common Law in America. Today, government agencies use process crimes as a matter of course in their prosecution, whether it is of real criminals or simply of various sorts of political dissidents. The phrase “anarcho-tyranny” describes a system in which one group of people gets away with egregious crimes, while another is punished for the slightest infraction. Does that not sound like America today? Victor Davis Hanson has written about illegal immigrants from Mexico living around Fresno, California, and completely ignoring laws regarding zoning or illegal dumping. Meanwhile, white businessmen in the same region can barely conduct business due to the complexity of regulation laid upon them by the state. See also the push to legalize any crime committed primarily by black Americans, such as fare evasion in Washington DC, while calling for stronger punishment for crimes committed by less-favored ethnic groups.

The consistency of our laws is also not what it used to be. With so many laws on the books, the government cannot enforce everything, so there ends up being a lot of discretion involved in choosing what to prosecute and what to let go. President Obama’s Executive Order for the children of illegal immigrants, for example, did not change the legality of their presence in the United States, it merely instructed federal agencies to stop enforcing immigration law. This sort of capriciousness is a throwback to the time of ancient kings, who chose what laws to enforce based upon whatever criteria they considered important at the time. Today, being prosecuted is often a function of whether you are a member of a protected class or not. Are you rich and powerful? Are you a member of a favored ethnic or social group? Whether or not a crime was committed is secondary in this calculation.

There are clearly parallel systems of justice in America. The rich, the powerful, and the politically connected can get away with anything while the average American is subject to ever-changing laws that can entrap him at any moment. Former prosecutor Harvey Silverglate wrote a book a while ago called “Three Felonies a Day”, suggesting that there are so many twisted and even contradictory laws on our books today that a prosecutor could literally charge any random American with three different felonies on any given day should he so choose. The result of such a system is that prosecution and conviction are not borne out of a search for the truth regarding an obvious crime but are instead dependent on the whims of the people in power. Additionally, the use of plea bargains further removes truth from the so-called justice system. Prosecutors are increasingly charging people far beyond the scope of any actual infraction, so as to create such a threat point that the accused is basically forced to accept a plea bargain. Even for people who know they did not commit the crimes they are accused of, the risk of a guilty verdict putting them away for decades and ruining their business, their family, and their lives is so great that many will agree to plead guilty to a lower charge, despite their innocence.

Probably the greatest constitutional protection of our civil rights is the doctrine of innocent until proven guilty. In many older legal systems, the burden of proof was upon the accused to prove their innocence rather than upon the prosecutor to prove their guilt. Proving guilt is difficult, but proving innocence might be even harder, even if the accused is truly innocent. Our founding fathers would rather have a justice system where a few guilty people escape punishment than one that routinely imprisons innocent people. This too has been turned on its head by our modern bureaucratic state. Look no further than the investigation and impeachment of President Trump – the Democrats’ talking point was consistently that neither the Mueller Report nor the Senate trial actually “acquitted” or “exonerated” the president. In their opinions, he was guilty, and it was up to him to prove his innocence of whatever charges they threw at him. This twists not only American law but a thousand years of western European legal tradition entirely backwards.

The same idea powers the ever-expanding surveillance state. The government is constantly demanding more oversight over our daily lives, whether through cameras on the streets, mandatory reporting of financial transactions, or backdoors into our encrypted devices and applications. Police, border agents, and airport security demand the right to invasively search you with no probable cause. Edward Snowden proved that the NSA has been spying on Americans for many years now. Their usual excuse is that if we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to worry about. However, they maintain different rules for their class of people. The rich and the powerful are accustomed to getting away with their crimes, but they consider the average American to be guilty until proven innocent.

One of the most important corollaries in a belief in a common law is a belief in meritocracy. The conceit of America was that it was a classless society in contrast to Europe with its royal families and nobility as well as its hereditary offices and positions. While this might never have actually been the reality of America, it was at least the ideal we all aspired to. Children were taught that they could do anything, be anything in this country. Sometimes it actually happened. Abraham Lincoln was nobody special until he challenged Stephen Douglas for the Senate and made a name for himself, eventually reaching the White House. Harry Truman grew up on a farm in Missouri and ended up overseeing the end of World War II as president. While Donald Trump was wealthy and famous before becoming president, he came into the election as a true outsider, and remains the only President to be elected with no previous government or military experience. It happened outside of political office as well. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos started off in prosperity, but they both became the richest men in the world by creating things that changed the way we lived. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash grew up in poverty and both reached the heights of fame. However, while numerous, these examples are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Today, entrance into the upper crust is largely a product of patronage. The existing upper classes engage in a huge amount of quid pro quo, trading favors and influence like prisoners trade cigarettes. The children of presidents provide an easy example here. Chelsea Clinton received numerous high-profile internships and lucrative board positions despite having accomplished almost nothing on her own. Same with the daughters of Presidents Bush and Obama. Perhaps the most egregious example is Hunter Biden, younger son of former Vice President Joe Biden. By his mid-forties, Hunter Biden had accomplished little, but had been given cushy jobs as the son of a high-ranking Senator. By the time his father was Vice President, Hunter was given a naval commission under a special program that did not require boot camp or training or anything like that. Despite this easy entry, he was discharged due to drug use shortly thereafter. Yet having connections means never having to hit rock bottom. Hunter was immediately given a sinecure position on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company that paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, despite having little-to-no experience with natural gas, or with Ukraine, for that matter. So much for meritocracy.

The left seemed very concerned about President Trump entering office as a rich man, but what about the opposite? How often do you see people enter elected office and then somehow become obscenely wealthy? The Obama family was moderately well off before the White House, but after leaving they have been awash in money as companies offer them huge sums to get in their good graces. The value in paying Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech, for example, is not that it will generate that much more productivity, but that it is an unregulated contribution, a bribe even, that will be remembered and rewarded later. Elite politicians, business leaders, and celebrities live for so long in a world of luxury that they forget what it is like to be an average American. They start to actually believe that the laws do not apply to people like them. They never have to wait in line at an airport or fight traffic on city streets. They do not have to clip coupons for groceries, compare cell phone plans, or anything else to try and stay within a limited budget. Their only interaction with the average man and woman might be watching them on TV now and then or at carefully staged town halls – they certainly do not rub shoulders with the hoi polloi on a regular basis.

The extreme upper class exists in another world, one that runs parallel to the one the rest of us inhabit. If we lose our job, we desperately search for a new one, hoping that our meager savings can survive until then, and hoping that there are no medical emergencies while we are in between insurance. For them, losing a job just means picking up the phone and asking for a lucrative sinecure on some other board or an easy lobbying gig in Washington DC. John Bolton, President Bush’s ambassador to the UN and President Trump’s former national security advisor, famously hung around buildings in DC while unemployed and tried to talk politics with anyone who would listen until he got a new position. If you or I tried that, we would rightly be labeled a bum who needs to get a real job. If we are accused of a crime, we can only find the best lawyer we can afford and hope that truth will win out over the massive weight of our legal system. For them, they simply send one of their high-powered attorneys on retainer to make the problem go away. When someone rich and powerful is finally given justice, it is often because the system has no more use of him. Harvey Weinstein was protected, until he wasn’t. Jeffrey Epstein was protected, until he wasn’t. How many people are still protected from prosecution for doing things far worse than many already in prison?

This two-tiered system of life and of justice in America is not a good sign for the health of our Republic. The left likes to talk about income inequality, but an even greater sign of the decline is in inequality of justice. When millions of normal Americans see the famous politicians getting away with the same crimes that would send them to prison, they lose all faith in our government and our society. This is how revolutions begin. The American people will not stand for this much longer. Something has to give. Every new injustice adds more fuel to the fire. Conservative commentator Jesse Kelly said it best:

The decline of America accelerated this week, and its inevitable fall approaches ever closer.

Bloomberg as Crassus

I am not the only one to make the comparison of Michael Bloomberg to Marcus Crassus. Earlier today on Twitter conservative commentator Jesse Kelly made the same observation after reading a long piece by Raheem Kassam at National Pulse. I briefly mentioned in my piece that Bloomberg made his fortune by gaining a monopoly on financial information systems for traders and journalists. Kassam’s piece goes into much greater detail on exactly how he accomplished that and what that sort of control means for his campaign. In short, we have a man who has nearly endless money, his own newspaper chain, and exactly zero principles who is trying to buy the White House.

Read the whole thing.

Episode 32: The Common Law

Recent events have shown clearly that we have a two-tiered justice system in America. Justice today depends less upon truth and more upon how politically-connected you are. People will not stand this sort of injustice for long.

Listen here, or listen, subscribe, and review on iTunes.

Notes:

Jesse Kelly on Twitter.

Quick Thoughts on Every President

To celebrate Washington’s Birthday (despite it having been bastardized into “Presidents’ Day to honor his mediocre successors), here are some notes about each president. This is not an exhaustive biography of every president and his place in history, merely some quick thoughts:

George Washington: “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” He set the standard by which all future presidents are judged, and still stands alone.

John Adams: Principled to a fault. Would have enjoyed the VP position more in its 21st century form.

Thomas Jefferson: His idealism sometimes failed (as when he supported the French Revolution) but it also motivated him to expand our horizons.

James Madison: Wrote the Constitution and gave us the Bill of Rights. Much of what is good about America is due to his work.

James Monroe: Known for his eponymous Doctrine, and for being the only president to have a foreign capital named after him. Only president besides Washington to run essentially unopposed, in 1820.

John Quincy Adams: As principled as his father. The last of the old guard revolutionary elites. Benefited from the “Corrupt Bargain” in the election of 1824.

Andrew Jackson: The first populist president. He spoke directly to the people and acted on their behalf, no matter what the bureaucracy wanted.

Martin van Buren: Last president until George H.W. Bush in 1988 to win the White House as sitting VP.

William Henry Harrison: The anti-war Whig party got their first win by running a war hero general. Too bad he died not six weeks into his term.

John Tyler: First VP to succeed to the presidency. Made enemies on both sides by doing so. Later supported the Confederacy.

James K. Polk: Was not even a candidate until the divided Convention. Made three promises. Achieved all three then retired. A good model to follow.

Zachary Taylor: The Whigs win again with another war hero. They lose again when he dies in office. Bad luck.

Millard Fillmore: The last Whig president. That’s all I have.

Franklin Pierce: The Whigs tried their luck a third time with a war-hero general, running Winfield Scott in 1852. Pierce won easily. America probably wanted a refund after the fact.

James Buchanan: Didn’t do anything about the growing divide in America over slavery.

Abraham Lincoln: Revered today for keeping the Union together, yet he was the one who chose to start a war to do it. Bad on civil liberties too.

Andrew Johnson: A Southern loyalist Democrat unexpectedly has to deal with a Republican Congress that wants to annihilate the South. Gets impeached for standing up to them.

Ulysses Grant: Great general. Not so good president. First president to explicitly write his memoirs after office.

Rutherford Hayes: Actually lost the election, but the South switched their electoral votes to him in exchange for withdrawing Federal troops.

James Garfield: Exemplified the late 1800s presidency – quietly running the government and rooting out corruption. Shot just four months into his term.

Chester Arthur: Another late-1800s president. Failing health kept him from doing too much.

Grover Cleveland: Everyone knows he served two nonconsecutive terms. Think about that though – his successor messed up so much that the people went back for a second look.

Benjamin Harrison: Grandson of former President Harrison. Lasted longer in office. The last president to wear a glorious beard.

William McKinley: Proved that populism was still not a golden ticket by defeating the indefatigable and popular William Jennings Bryan twice. Pressured into starting a war based on faulty intel. Hmm.

Theodore Roosevelt: Maybe the most larger-than-life president of all time. Unabashedly pro-American.

William Taft: If Teddy was larger-than-life, Taft was simply large. Should have won in 1912 if Teddy’s ego didn’t ruin it.

Woodrow Wilson: Maybe the worst president. Income tax, Federal Reserve, direct election of Senators, expanded suffrage, war, civil rights restrictions. The seeds of everything wrong with America today.

Warren Harding: Super corrupt. Might have been legitimately impeached had he not conveniently died. His best decision, besides dying, was his VP.

Calvin Coolidge: Humble and soft-spoken. Understood that the best government is one that gets out of our way. One of the best.

Herbert Hoover: Not the laissez-faire leader our textbooks claim. An engineer by trade, he rebuilt Europe after WWI, and figured he could rebuild the economy with the right tools.

Franklin Roosevelt: I wonder if voters knew in 1932 that they were electing a president for life? Not quite the dictator that Germany, Russia, and Italy had in the same era, but cut from the same cloth.

Harry Truman: Humble, yet stuck with the choice to use nukes in his first month in office.

Dwight Eisenhower: Great president, great general, great man. Highest-ranking general since Washington, yet in two terms he did not start any wars.

John Kennedy: The last Democrat to be stridently anti-Communist. He was more useful to the Democrats dead than alive.

Lyndon Johnson: Third coming of Wilson, after FDR. Massively expanded government. Won greatest landslide in history in 1964, but so unpopular by 1968 he dropped out of his own primary.

Richard Nixon: Master politician. Got in trouble because suddenly doing what all presidents did was now wrong. Huge victory in 1972 belies conventional wisdom about the 60s generation.

Gerald Ford: Pardoning Nixon killed him politically, but it was the right thing to do.

Jimmy Carter: His win in 1976 was the only Democratic victory between 1968 and 1992.

Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator. Boldly spoke directly to the people. His 1986 amnesty still haunts us today though.

George H.W. Bush: Seemed very humble and soft-spoken, but must have been different behind the scenes. Former head of the CIA, involved in Iran-Contra, and who knows what else.

Bill Clinton: Master politician like Nixon. Started the trend of replacing actual policy with cliched platitudes. 1994 triangulation was masterful but forgotten by modern Democrats.

George W. Bush: His 2004 reelection is the only time since 1988 that a Republican has won the popular vote.

Barack Obama: Most of his accomplishments have already been erased. Will be an historical footnote – “The first black president.”

Donald Trump: A true outsider – the first president to win election despite no electoral, military, or governmental experience. Faces opposition like no president in history, yet has been so-far successful in reshaping the executive branch and judiciary.

Learning from History – Marcus Crassus

I have written before about how important the era of Gaius Marius and Lucius Sulla was in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Empire. In his zeal for reform, Marius ignored centuries of Roman law and tradition as he sought to remake the Republic in a more egalitarian fashion. Sulla, on the other hand, sought to return to the old ways, but had to break the rules in order to save them. When Marius used his mobs to oust Sulla, despite the latter’s apparent victory in the consular election, Sulla raised an army, marched on Rome, and made himself dictator. With unlimited power, Sulla was able to restore rule of law to Rome. However, the next generation of Romans did not adhere to the old ways, rather they took from Sulla the lesson that supreme power is found at the point of the spear.

Everyone has heard of Julius Caesar, of course. Caesar was a young protege of Marius who survived Sulla’s proscriptions and whose leadership would bring an end to the Republic once and for all. However, there was another man who survived the wars between Marius and Sulla and without whom Caesar could never have obtained power in the first place, and that is Marcus Crassus. Crassus was on the opposite side of Caesar in the civil wars, and lost much of his family fortune during Marius’ proscriptions. In the aftermath, however, Crassus used every means at his disposal to regain his lost wealth, and more. For example, Crassus started Rome’s first fire brigade. However, this was not an altruistic endeavor, but a moneymaking one. When a fire broke out in the city, Crassus and the brigade would arrive, but rather than putting out the fire they would stand by while Crassus offered a paltry sum to purchase the burning building. If the owner agreed, the brigade would put out the fire and Crassus would generously rent it back to the former owner. If he disagreed, the brigade would stand by and watch it burn to the ground.

Tactics like this soon made Marcus Crassus not only the richest man in Rome, but created a massive system of patronage that he could call upon when needed. Patronage was important in the late Republic. A wealthy patron could call upon his followers to vote for his policies, to attack his opponents, or even to riot upon command. Modern America has a similar system, though few call it what it is. Tammany Hall is an obvious historical example. This organization, founded in the late 1700s in New York City, became a powerful political machine by the late 1800s. Tammany Hall generously assisted New York residents, especially new Irish immigrants, and in return expected that these people would dutifully support politicians selected by Tammany itself. In this way, it exerted near total control of New York politics for nearly a century. Efforts in the early to mid 1900s by then-governor Franklin Roosevelt and future Mayor Fiorello La Guardia eventually stripped the organization of its power.

Political patronage in America today is not as obvious as it was in the past, but it still exists. The Democratic Party uses much of its political power and capital in distributing taxpayer dollars to various interest groups, and in return those groups support Democratic politicians. In Washington state a few years ago, the Democratic legislature and governor passed a law that forced home care workers to become part of the Washington Federation of State Employees, a powerful public-sector union. In doing so, these workers now had to pay union dues, which were then turned around and contributed by the union leadership to Democratic campaigns. You can see how this law was a payoff by politicians to their powerful patrons. The same thing happens on a national level, with racial interest groups, green energy groups, refugee and immigration groups, and more.

With his great wealth, Marcus Crassus was able to exert control over Roman politics. Despite his great power, however, Crassus worried that his influence would be dampened by the military successes of his rivals Caesar and Gneus Pompey. Perhaps to prove his military bona fides, Crassus crushed Spartacus in the Third Servile War and crucified six thousand captured slaved along the main road to Rome. He left their bodies to rot, a reminder to the people of Rome that he too could take decisive action when necessary. (I note that while brutal, this action seemed to have its intended effect; there was no Fourth Servile War.)

Crassus’ power reached its peak shortly after this victory. Rather than ruling Rome outright, he found it more beneficial to be the power behind Caesar’s throne. He financed the younger man’s rise in both the military and the Roman government. Along with Pompey, Crassus and Caesar formed the political alliance known as the First Triumverate. Crassus took the governorship of the rich province of Syria as his portion, but this proved his undoing. In an attempt to expand his power, he was killed in battle with the Persian Parthians. His death ended the Triumverate, as Caesar and Pompey could not get along without Crassus’ moderating influence. It was in the civil war between the two generals that the Roman Republic finally came to an end.

If America is the modern Rome, who is our Crassus? I have already suggested that President Donald Trump is actually our Sulla, the last attempt to return to the rule of law and to our ancient traditions. If anyone resembles Marcus Crassus today it must be former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While Crassus made his fortune with the fire brigade and other real estate schemes, Bloomberg built his upon gaining a monopoly for financial reporting systems used by newspapers. By the time of this writing, Bloomberg’s wealth is estimated to be over $60 billion, which is more than ten times that of Donald Trump before his own run for office.

Michael Bloomberg is apparently willing to spend every last penny to gain as much political power as he can. He become the mayor of America’s largest city as a Republican, following in the footsteps of Rudy Giuliani. He ruled the city as an authoritarian, attacking rising street crime through his controversial stop-and-frisk program. Though constitutionally dubious, the program did significantly reduce crime and violence in the city. He also made headlines for his attempt to ban large sodas in an effort to reduce obesity rates. When the time came for him to step down after two terms, as was the city’s law, he simply ignored it and ran for a third. He got a court to strike down the term limit. He also spent millions to create an anti-gun organization that has been working to restrict 2nd Amendment rights throughout the nation.

Bloomberg has been flirting with the presidency for several years now, but he has apparently decided to go all-in for 2020. Like President Trump, he is running an unorthodox campaign. Unlike Trump, who ran as a populist and connected directly to the voters with his Twitter account and massive rallies, Bloomberg is using his money and patronage to buy as many votes as he can. He donated millions to various political campaigns throughout the country, and in return those victorious politicians have endorsed his run for the White House. Bloomberg originally built his fortune in the newspaper business, and still wields enough control that his papers have been banned from reporting on anything that might hurt his campaign. He has hired campaign staff and social media influencers by offering huge salaries and free food, and has used his influence in the billionaire community to block donations to his rivals. Despite not polling high enough to merit inclusion in the primary debates under Democratic Party rules, Bloomberg simply wrote a check to the Democratic National Committee and bought himself a spot on the stage. Bloomberg has used his massive fortune to carpet bomb primary states with advertising, drowning out other candidates.

In short, Michael Bloomberg is the perfect portrait of the billionaire buying the White House that President Trump’s critics imagine him to be. Bloomberg himself appears to have no solid political principles, beyond his own power. Whether his strategy can win him the White House, much less the Democratic primary, remains to be seen. While Crassus seemed content to operate as the power behind the throne, it is unclear if Bloomberg will be satisfied with anything less than absolute power. Some conservative commentators suggested early on that his campaign was less about winning and more about taking control of the Democratic Party and making sure that socialists and populists alike are frozen out of power. Time will tell. For now, I simply suggest that his rise is yet another sign of the decline of the United States of America. Many politicians have lacked principle, but until now few have been so open about it.

Further reading about Bloomberg’s methods can be found in this Twitter thread by @blakezeff: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1227976156936171520.html

A Leftist Steps Outside Her Bubble

In my podcast yesterday I mentioned how leftists live in a bubble, and their only experience with the right is through strawmen on late night television. This morning I came across this piece by a leftist (former) Democrat about her experience of stepping outside her bubble and attending a recent Trump rally:

I started to question everything. How many stories had I been sold that weren’t true? What if my perception of the other side is wrong? How is it possible that half of the country is really overtly racist? Is it possible that Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing, and had I been suffering from it for the past three years?

And the biggest question of all was this: Did I hate Trump so much that I wanted to see my country fail just to spite him and everyone who voted for him?

It is well-written and eye opening. Read the whole thing.

View at Medium.com

Episode 31: The Hitler Lens

Half the country believes that President Donald Trump is literally Hitler. How might that affect their rhetoric and their actions going forward? This is a dangerous game the left is playing, and it portends tragedy for the American Republic.

Listen here, or listen, subscribe, and review on iTunes.

David Harsanyi’s post at National Review.

Death of Democracy

“Democracy.” There is perhaps no single word more sacred to American culture than this. Pundits and politicians on both the left and right put this word on a pedestal, without ever explaining exactly what they mean by it. Did you know that the word “democracy” does not appear in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence? Yet that does not stop congressmen, journalists, and grade school textbooks from extolling the virtues of democracy and making it synonymous with the very idea of America itself. Like an inkblot test, or a political poll, the word “democracy” is open to whatever interpretation the speaker and the hearer want to give it.

The globalist left is especially fond of using “democracy” as a buzzword, often lacking any context regarding its actual definition. A great example of this came in 2012, when Wisconsin Democrats launched a campaign to recall newly elected Governor Scott Walker. Walker came into office with a conservative mandate to reform government and break the stranglehold that public-sector unions had on state government, but the Democrats reacted strongly against this attack on one of their pillars of power. They successfully triggered a recall election but were stunned that night when Walker was retained with an even higher percentage of votes than in his original election. Local media interviewed several young protestors at the capitol building, one of whom memorably cried, “Democracy died tonight!”

If you open a dictionary, you will find that democracy comes out of the Greek language and means “rule by the people”. However, to the left, democracy is simply a word to describe a system in which they win. This young protestor in Madison was not knowingly lying or making a non sequitur; rather, he seriously believed that Walker’s victory was a defeat for democracy. We saw the exact same thing happen with Brexit. The British people were presented with a simple referendum in 2016 that asked if they should leave the European Union. 52% of a record-setting turnout voted “yes”. The globalist left fought this too, trying various ways to undo the election or at least to hold a second referendum which they hoped would turn out differently. When these efforts were unsuccessful, many claimed that democracy was being stifled in Britain. Once again, in the minds of the left, the actual referendum of the people was not an example of democracy, while their efforts to undo the vote were examples of democracy. This is obviously backward, but that cognitive dissonance is the result of several generations of propaganda and brainwashing.

The idea of voting until you get the correct outcome is common with the globalists. About ten years ago, the European Union cobbled together a constitution that usurped the sovereignty of their member states. Calling it a treaty, they put it up for a vote in the various member nations. If the people of those nations rejected the treaty, they were forced to vote on it again, and again, each time under a constant barrage of pro-EU propaganda. Once they voted to ratify the treaty, that was it, they were done. Notice that this was the exact same tactic that opponents of Brexit attempted to use to undo that vote. In a real democracy, you don’t always win, but the left redefines the word to mean that they always do. The Democratic Party in America has treated power like their birthright for two generations now. Notice the way that Democratic lawmakers and their media friends use the word “illegitimate” these days. President Trump’s election is “illegitimate”. His impeachment acquittal is “illegitimate”. They said the same thing about the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, as well. His victory in 2000 over Al Gore was “illegitimate” because of the Florida ballot controversy. His reelection in 2004 over John Kerry was “illegitimate” because of issues with the vote count in Ohio. Notice that their supposed reasons for this alleged illegitimacy always change. That is because they are not acting in good faith, but simply trying to rationalize their belief that the only legitimate elections are the ones in which they win.

Socialists love to use democracy as a buzzword as well. North Korea is one of the most oppressive and authoritarian nations on earth, but what do they call themselves? The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Despite this name, North Korea is obviously not democratic, nor a republic, nor it is run by the people for that matter. Yet this is the image they present to the world. Like the globalist left, socialists believe that the natural outcome of democracy is that their side wins, and that socialism expands across the globe. Any other outcome is, to them, evidence of sabotage by evil capitalists.

In America, proponents of a socialist revolution have explicitly adopted the term “democratic” to soften their image for the American voters. They still claim that Stalin’s purges, Mao’s murders, Castro’s oppression, and the collapse of Venezuela are all examples of things that were never “real” socialism, because they define any failure as “not socialism”. Yet they still feel the need to qualify their ideology. Democratic socialism, they claim, is different, because it is merely redistribution of wealth at the behest of the voters instead of the result of violent revolution. Just because they use different words does not change the ideology. Project Veritas recently recorded more than one Bernie Sanders campaign official casually discussing the logistics of putting conservatives in gulags should he win. The vote that brings about socialism in America would be one of the last meaningful votes we would ever have. As the saying goes, you can vote your way into socialism, but you must shoot your way out.

Finally, our news media uses democracy as a meaningless buzzword as well. Mainstream media especially likes to use the term to make themselves sound overly important to America. After the 2016 election, recall that the news media came up with the term “fake news” to describe non-approved sources that supposedly propelled President Trump to victory. However, Trump turned the term around and applied it to mainstream media such as the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post. Angry over this use of their own propaganda against them, the Washington Post adopted the slogan “democracy dies in darkness,” sanctimoniously presenting themselves as the objective guardians of our sacred democracy. This is all despite the fact that it was the mainstream media themselves who have constantly been publishing fake news about Russian collusion in order to try and influence our politics in the direction they want. Our media considers themselves a fourth branch of government, with equal authority over the American people as the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court. When the White House revoked the press credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta, who would spend every news conference smugly arguing with President Trump or his representatives, the media acted like this was a constitutional crisis. They said that because he removed one irritating journalist from the press pool, Trump was now an authoritarian dictator. This is the same CNN that doxed a random young man who made a meme making fun of fake news, and CNN specifically. It is an odd conception of democracy that features an unelected priestly class ruling over the common man, yet that is what our arrogant media would have us believe.

As I said, the word democracy comes from Greek and means rule by the people. Historically, this has taken two forms – direct democracy, where citizens vote on every issue, and representative democracy, where citizens elect representatives who vote on their behalf. Obviously, the American system is more like the latter than the former. Commentators will often point out how anti-democratic voting once was, with only landowning white men voting, and presidential electors picked by state legislatures. However, our founders were not naïve believers in democracy, as they are often portrayed. They feared the power of the mob. In that they were like the founders of ancient Greece and Rome, where the concept of democracy was born. In the Roman Republic, for example, Senate membership and voting was restricted to the patrician families who had originally founded the city. Plebeians were barred from voting, despite being a majority of the population. The founders of Rome, like the founders of our country, knew that the mob was fickle, and would often support whichever policy or politician that promised them the greater share of the spoils. It was the Romans who coined the phrase “bread and circuses” to explain how to keep the mob at bay. By restricting the franchise to landowning men, only those with skin in the game had direct influence on the policies of our young nation. Contrast this with today, where entire populations on welfare go to the polls to elect representatives who promise them ever more of the public purse. As Winston Churchill is supposed to have said, “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

You can see the pernicious effect of the mob in the downfall of the Roman Republic. The Gracchi Brothers learned how to use the mob to accomplish their goals. They used patronage to entice people to their side, and then deployed the mob to protest and riot on command. Sound familiar? Gaius Marius used the power of the mob to run roughshod over Roman law and remained in power for five consecutive years rather than leaving office after one as all his predecessors had done. One of Marius’ proteges was a young Julius Caesar who took his mentor’s positions to their logical extremes, marking the end of the Republic and the birth of the Roman Empire. The lesson is clear: A republic cannot survive the mob. Once electoral power is given to the great mass of people who vote only based on bread and circuses, the republic inevitably dies. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this two hundred years ago when he made his survey of the young American republic. “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

We are told that expanding the franchise means more democracy which is an unmitigated good. Yet if you look at tyrants throughout history, they are always expanding the franchise. Adolf Hitler allowed more people to vote in Germany than had the Weimar Republic before him, because he understood how to use the mob to his advantage. Several centuries ago, King James of England found himself unable to pass certain laws in the House of Lords, so he simply created enough new baronets that he could overcome that opposition. President Franklin Roosevelt tried something similar in the 1930s. After the Supreme Court struck down several parts of the New Deal, FDR threatened to appoint enough new justices that he could get anything declared constitutional. While he ended up not doing this, the threat alone was enough to cow the Supreme Court into supporting the New Deal from then on.

Third-world dictatorships and banana republics always claim high voter turnout, with their preferred leaders winning close to 100% of the vote. Saddam Hussein of Iraq was always reelected with nearly unanimous consent, for example. What this tells us is that voting itself is not a guarantor of freedom or even of the truthful will of the people. Joseph Stalin was supposed to have said “It’s not the votes that counts, but who counts the votes,” and this is proven time and again. Democracy is often just a veneer that is used to legitimatize totalitarianism. The mob is fickle, and in the hands of a deft political propagandist it can be made to support nearly any position. By expanding the franchise to ever more people, a clever tyrant can cloak his dictatorial ambitions in a façade of democracy.

The modern Democratic Party has its origin in the Democratic-Republicans of Thomas Jefferson, founded as an alternative to the Federalist Party. However, they owe more to the populism of Andrew Jackson. The Democrats have long considered themselves to be the party of the common man, which really means that they are the party of the mob. Although the Democrats of the late 19th and 20th centuries were a far cry from the socialist of today, that is where mob rule eventually leads. The Southern Democrats who supported secession after the election of Abraham Lincoln were strong proponents of states rights and distrusted the federal government. Modern Democrats desire a strong federal government, as the old Federalist Party once did, but they have also adopted the ideologies of the socialist and labor movements of the 20th century. FDR’s New Deal might not have been as dramatic or violent as the socialist movements of Russia, Italy, or Germany, but it was still a great expansion of federal power and a move toward totalitarianism. The New Deal government began subsidizing certain industries, used taxpayer money to guarantee bank deposits, established a public old age pension, and told farmers what they could and could not grow. Al Smith, former governor of New York and the Democratic candidate for president in 1928, warned America that the New Deal was taking his party away from the ideals of Jefferson, Jackson, and Grover Cleveland and leading instead to those of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.

Today’s Democratic Party nearly fully embraced socialism. The Bernie Sanders / Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing is in the process of taking control of the party as we speak. Former Vice President Joe Biden, once considered the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic primary, has been sinking in the polls, while Senator Sanders has been rising. The Democratic establishment is not happy with this situation but there is not much they can do at this point. The Republicans cannot outdo the Democrats in pandering, welfare, and identity politics, so the Democratic establishment cannot compete with the socialist wing in the same manner.

As I said before, the modern American socialists claim that their brand of “democratic socialism” is not the same as the variants of socialism that have been tried and failed in the past. They believe that rather than overthrowing their capitalist overlords and seizing the means of production, they can instead vote their way into a socialist utopia. If someone like Bernie Sanders is elected president, they would claim this as a mandate to reshape the American economy and society in a socialist manner. The Constitutional protections for the rights to life, liberty, and property would be as easily brushed away as the rights of free speech, free religion, the right to bear arms in self-defense. Yet once lost, those rights will be extremely difficult to get back. It begs the question – does sacred democracy give the people the right to vote away their liberty? Remember that it’s not just our own liberty at stake, but our children’s, and their children’s after them. High school civics classes teach us that democracy is sacred, and that the right to vote is the most precious right we can possibly have. That is little comfort as we watch millions of Americans exercising that right with the intent of wrapping chains around our cherished liberties. What good is the right to vote if we have little choice in whom to support? What good is the right to vote if our elected officials simply delegate their lawmaking powers to unelected bureaucrats who steadily erode our freedoms? What good is the right to vote if we cannot use it to protect ourselves from the capricious mob? We are the sheep, and the vote on what to have for dinner is fast approaching.

The farce that is modern American democracy is nowhere as evident as in the efforts of the American people to exert control over government policy. Buried in the kabuki theater performance that is the impeachment of President Trump is a fundamental disagreement about the nature of American government. That is, who runs the country, specifically foreign policy? If you ask a random person on the street, they might say the President, or perhaps Congress. If you find someone particularly civic minded, they might say the people. Yet when you look at the way our foreign policy works today, you have to ask who is pulling the strings. Is it the president? Congress? The people? Our foreign policy today is a complicated mélange of military deployments, foreign aid, sanctions, covert actions, and quid pro quo. There are few Americans who know entirely what we are doing in the world, much less who understand why we are doing it. Sometimes different factions of our government even conduct completely contradictory operations. So how do we the people exercise any control over what our government is up to?

According to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the president is not only the Commander-in-Chief of the military, but also has the power to appoint ambassadors and other ministers of government, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. This gives the president broad authority to dictate American foreign policy. In the original conception of the Constitution, the president was elected by electors appointed by the states, and Senators were also appointed by state legislatures. While this might seem anti-democratic to us today, remember that the state legislatures themselves were elected by the people of the state, so ultimately the final authority was with the people. Today, we the people actually have more influence over these offices, with the direct election of Senators and direct voting for a state’s electors. However, we seem to have less control over American foreign policy than ever before. In November of 2016, more than sixty-million Americans voted Donald Trump into the White House because they believed he would reign in an out-of-control foreign policy, yet this is exactly why Democrats, NeverTrump Republicans, the media, and the Deep State have been trying to oust the president since Day 1.

Prior to World War II, American foreign policy was relatively simple. The military was used to protect American citizens while taxpayer money financed the essential roles of government. The military was kept small and close to home except in times of war. Even as late as 1916, General Pershing’s Punitive Expedition into Mexico to try and capture Pancho Villa was a big deal. Ever since World War II, but especially since 9/11, American foreign policy has involved deploying troops all across the globe while at the same time distributing huge amounts of foreign aid to try and maintain the postwar new world order. During the Cold War, the goal of these twin planks of foreign policy was supposedly to counter the aggressive expansion of the Soviet Union and prevent more of the world from falling behind the Iron Curtain. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, the goal has been less obvious. The 90s saw even more military action in places such as Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, while foreign aid continued to increase. The 9/11 attacks have been providing justification for unlimited military action for nearly twenty years. If you talk to a neoconservative politician or a general at the Pentagon, you’ll hear a platitude such as “we fight them over there, so they don’t come over here.” This statement rings hollow when you consider that our immigration policy now lets in more people than ever – in fact, after 9/11 we actually increased our quotas of refugees and immigrants from Muslim nations such as Somalia.

While the president is the commander-in-chief of the military, Congress has broad powers to determine how that military is used. According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress is the sole body that can declare war against a foreign country. The last time they exercised that power was in 1941 in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. Since then, presidents have deployed troops nearly at will, sometimes asking Congress for permission after the fact. Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon deployed American soldiers in Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia with varying degrees of congressional authorization. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Act in order to constrain the president’s use of military force, though every president since Nixon has maintained that this is unconstitutional. In 2001, Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The original idea of the AUMF was to give President Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda and their Taliban allies. Since then, however, Presidents Bush, Obama, and even Trump have used the AUMF to justify their deployment of American soldiers and equipment not only in Afghanistan but also Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Niger, and many other places throughout the world. Most of the Congressmen who voted for the AUMF are out of office now, and later Congresses have not held any new votes to continue their authorization or to retract it. So, who now is actually deciding American military policy?

It might seem like the president is unilaterally deciding foreign policy at this point but consider what happened when President Trump tried to pull troops back. In late 2018, Trump ordered the withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and order that was met with consternation in the halls of Congress. The House even passed a resolution condemning the president’s plan, despite never having explicitly authorizing the deployment in the first place. To sum up: President Obama deployed US troops to Syria, using a Congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to invade Afghanistan as justification, and President Trump is therefore not allowed to withdraw those troops without congressional approval. Got it?

There has been much discussion since the election of President Trump about the so-called “Deep State”. Mainstream media initially denied that such a thing existed, then later turned around and said that the Deep State was going to save us from our crazy president. When I say “Deep State” I am not implying the existence of some sort of secretive organization like the Illuminati that is covertly controlling world affairs. This is the sort of conspiracy theory that the media uses to tar the entire idea as crazy. Instead, the Deep State is simply the thousands of faceless bureaucrats and staffers in the State Department, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, the Justice Department, and other governmental organizations that remains in place from one administration to the next. Some commenters use the terms “administrative state” or “permanent political class” to describe the same thing. Unlike presidents or elected representatives, these bureaucrats are not elected for a term and then sent home. Rather, they spend their entire careers in these positions, gradually assuming more power and authority in their respective spheres. I believe that these Deep State bureaucrats see themselves as a moderating influence on the elected officials who are supposed to be in charge. Presidents and Senators come and go, having made various promises to their constituents, but the Deep State makes sure that American foreign policy continues unchanged no matter who is in the White House.

During the leadup to impeachment, several politicians, pundits, and former diplomats complained on cable news that President Trump was not properly carrying out American foreign policy. They did not like the way he was dealing with Russia, Ukraine, and other nations. This complain is a non sequitur, as the president is supposed to be the one who sets American foreign policy. Yet these representatives of the deep state do not see it that way. To them, foreign policy is decided in some backroom at the State Department, and the job of the president is to allow them broad latitude to carry it out. They see the president as a figurehead, like Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, who according to the British constitution is obligated to support the policies of the elected government, no matter what they might be. At least the British people have the option of voting out their government; in America, who oversees these career bureaucrats of the Deep State?

In 2014, a pro-Russian government in Ukraine was overthrown by a pro-European government, and it turned out that the CIA was involved in this coup. When did the American people vote for this? When did our elected representatives take a vote on whether to involve ourselves in an internal Ukrainian matter? Same thing with Libya – in 2011, American blood and treasure was involved in the coup that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, which ultimately led to the Benghazi disaster that saw our ambassador and three of his staff murdered. Not only was there never a democratic vote on our involvement, but there were no repercussions for its consequences. To paraphrase the biblical proverb about the adulterous woman, “the deep state eats and wipes its mouth and says I have done nothing wrong.”

It was not always this way. In the America envisioned by the founders, government would be as transparent as possible, and voting would give people real influence over the course of the nation. In the presidential election of 1800, voters had a clear choice between the pro-British John Adams and the pro-French Thomas Jefferson, among other distinctions. In the election of 1844, James K. Polk clearly laid out his platform, which included annexing Oregon and declaring war on Mexico over Texas. When he was elected, he fulfilled his promises. It seems like it was in the 20th century, as the United States was increasingly drawn into European affairs, that the people lost their control of American policy. Woodrow Wilson ran for reelection in 1916 with a pledge to keep America out of the Great War, yet he had barely finished his inaugural oath when we declared war on Germany and began shipping a million men to the trenches. In the 1930s, a majority of Americans were against involvement in another European war, yet Franklin Roosevelt nevertheless embargoed Japan, sent military equipment to the Soviet Union, and made plans with Churchill for the postwar world order. The American people did not vote for any of this and would surely have voted against it given the chance. Once Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, public opinion inevitably swung toward war and gave FDR the mandate to do what he wanted to do all along.

In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution that overthrew the pro-American president of Cuba and established a Communist state that allied with the Soviet Union. Not only was this a national security issue, with a Soviet ally now within a hundred miles of the continental United States, but it was a blow to American business interests that had found Cuba very friendly to their investments. The CIA immediately hatched a plot to overthrow Castro using Cuban refugees backed by American air power. In 1961, John F. Kennedy entered office having defeated the sitting Vice President Richard Nixon in a very close and contentious election. Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected to the presidency and immediately found himself facing foreign policy crises on all sides. He had campaigned on taking an even harder stance on Cuba than had Nixon, so when the CIA briefed him on this plan, he gave it his authorization. The invasion was a massive failure, and while Kennedy took full responsibility, some reports say that he privately seethed at the way the CIA handled the invasion and its aftermath. One later report quoted Kennedy as wanting to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds,” though he apparently relented after a congressional inquiry. Kennedy did fire CIA chief Allan Dulles, but the damage was done. The invasion pushed Cuba even further into the arms of the Soviet Union, leading to the Cuban missile crisis, while Kennedy’s desire to avoid looking weak after the fiasco led him to draw a line in the sand in Vietnam, escalating US involvement in that conflict. There are some who even suggest that Kennedy’s threat to dismantle the CIA might have even provoked his assassination, though we will likely never learn the truth behind that.

What is the point of voting if our elected representatives simply carry out the will of some unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington DC? Think back to the 2008 election and ask yourself if American foreign policy would have been that much different had John McCain defeated Barack Obama. If anything, McCain would have been worse. Obama deployed troops and drones to Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere, while McCain might well have done all that and invaded Iran too. The Deep State is not confined to one party or another but sees itself as beyond partisan politics. Tucker Carlson of Fox News recently highlighted this on his show, saying,

“Both parties work together to keep America overextended abroad, stuck in quagmires across the world that enrich defense contractors & lobbyists, while killing our finest young men & hollowing out this country.”

The other prong of the permanent foreign policy scheme is money. The United States delivers billions and billions of dollars to various countries under the term “foreign aid”. It is supposed to help these countries prosper and become more democratic, but in reality, it mostly enriches NGOs and friendly oligarchs. There are few countries on earth that do not receive some form of aid from the US, by which I mean taxpayer dollars. Did we ever vote for this? When did we hold a referendum on sending over $800 million to Pakistan or $260 million to Bangladesh? Why are we sending nearly half a billion dollars to Morocco or Colombia? Who decided that Palau should get $10 million in US taxpayer funds, or that we should divert $3.2 billion to Israel? Why are we sending another half a billion dollars to Ukraine?

Ukraine seems to be at the center of American foreign policy lately. It was the CIA, along with Obama administration operative Victoria Nuland, that helped oust the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and replace him with an EU stooge. In response to the coup, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in order to secure their naval base at Sevastopol and deployed troops in eastern Ukraine ostensibly to safeguard Russian-speaking citizens. The US and most western nations condemned these invasions, and relations with Russia have been unsteady ever since. US foreign policy had turned against Russia shortly before the Ukrainian coup, for reasons that are not entirely clear. At the start of the Obama Administration, you’ll recall that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gifted the Russian foreign minister a trinket that said “reset,” in reference to the cooling of US/Russian relations at the end of George W. Bush’s administration due to disagreements over Russia’s conflict with the nation of Georgia. However, just a few years later, the Obama Administration was stirring up trouble against Russia. Why? And how are voters supposed to guide American foreign policy when our relations with other nations switch for no apparent reason?

Coming back to Ukraine, the supposed impetus for the Democrats finally passing articles of impeachment against President Trump was his alleged threat to withhold foreign aid to that country unless they investigated apparent corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden. Shortly after the coup that installed a pro-European president in Ukraine, Biden’s son Hunter was given a lavish position on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, despite having no background in the industry or in Ukrainian politics. The reason why this was done is obvious to anyone with eyes to see – by dumping money on the son of the Vice President, the Ukrainians hoped to gain favor with the Obama Administration. For the powerful people of the deep state, this is normal. This is simply how business is done. An enormous amount of money is moved around between foreign leaders and dignitaries, businessmen, and American politicians and diplomats. This system keeps them all enriched, but it is entirely removed from the control of the American people or our elected representatives.

Enter Donald Trump. As far back as the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Trump was already suggesting that as president he would not only withdraw American troops from around the world but that he would also take a look at the foreign aid racket that has enriched the deep state for so long. I believe this is the biggest reason why so many people have tried so hard to stop President Trump, one way or another. He is a serious threat to the military/industrial complex that has grown up since the end of World War II. He is a threat to the New World Order that keeps the world running for the benefit of powerful people both here and abroad. They couldn’t stop him with the Access Hollywood tapes. They couldn’t stop him at the ballot box. They couldn’t stop him with the Mueller Report. They will not be able to stop him with impeachment. I fear for what they will try next. John F. Kennedy challenged the deep state, and he ended up murdered.

This is the great battle of our time. Who runs our country? Who decides American foreign policy? Is it the American people, expressed through our elected representatives who must return every few years for reelection? Or is it the career bureaucrats in Washington DC who face little to no accountability for their decisions? Do we have a democracy, or are we ruled by a corrupt oligarchy? We still vote in elections for Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency, but do these really matter? The right to vote is not an end unto itself. Our founders understood that the rights to life, liberty, and property needed constant safeguarding against tyrants above and the mob below. Our freedom is not secure so long as a simple majority can vote to take it away. The next time you see a politician or journalist speaking of democracy as a sacred thing, see it for the crass propaganda it is. Picture Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars solemnly intoning that “I love democracy.” Even George Lucas, bleeding-heart liberal that he is, understood the ability of a tyrant to use the power of the people to make himself a dictator. Today’s dictators are not Sith lords shooting lightning from their fingertips but are instead career bureaucrats who cloak themselves positive-sounding phrases such as “civil servants”.

I will leave the last word to Steve Cortes of the America First Political Action Committee who wrote a great piece on RealClearPolitics last week. He says,

“Herein lies the real rub, the underlying struggle that truly thrusts our nation into this historic showdown. The administrative state, the permanent political class, wages an all-out assault on the will of the people who, through President Trump, decided to regain control over the leviathan of the federal government. Amazingly, Adam Schiff admitted as much in his impeachment presentation to the Senate, stating the conflict “cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.”

Some politicians, like Schiff, are perfectly content to pretend to lead our government and simply perform as actors in a play. But Donald J. Trump demands to be the director, not some bit-part extra. For this “sin,” our national security and foreign policy elites have turned their political guns against him for almost four years. His coming acquittal, exoneration, and reelection will secure an important victory for a people fervently focused on reclaiming power over Washington.”

Episode 30: The Cult of Democracy

We are taught from grade school that democracy and the right to vote are the highest American values. Is that true? What does democracy actually mean? “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” We are the sheep, and the vote on what to have for dinner is fast approaching.

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