On Friday 7 October 2016, the ODNI released a Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security.
Seemingly contradictory assertions are being made in this statement. For example, it states that the U.S. Intelligence Community is “confident” that these compromises were directed by the Russian government while admitting that “we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government”. Likewise, stating that the “alleged hacked” e-mails or thefts and “ disclosures” released through DCLeaks, WikiLeaks, and the Guccifer 2.0 persona, are “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts”, undermines the narrative of Russian interference. There is simply too much indirect language and too many degrees of separation.
The language and terminology of the statement make it very difficult to understand what is and isn’t being asserted, exactly. It’s almost as if the statement is intentionally indirect and non-commital.
On Wednesday 14 December 2016, the ODNI released a Statement on Requests for Additional Information of Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.
An important part of this statement is the acknowledgment of briefings on Capitol Hill and that the USIC will make its findings available to the public “consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods”.
The briefings are probably the source of media misinterpretation from various “officials”. In regard to the inability to produce full evidence of Russian interference, it’s simply because no hard evidence actually exists and without that evidence, WikiLeaks is vindicated within the minds of Americans and belief in Russian involvement dissolves. In fact, 71% of Americans do NOT believe the Russian government was involved.
On Wednesday 16 December 2016, the ODNI released a statement in regard to their previous statements.
The strange part of this statement is that it reasserts the claims of the first statement and continues to utilize the terminology of disclosures of “alleged hacked” e-mails. However, it only refers to e-mail compromises in relation to the Guccifer 2.0 persona and claims that those disclosures were intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. This implies the “alleged hacked” emails were leaked through the directed efforts of the Russian government to interfere with the election process. What does this imply of the other leaks and their sources, though? Is the USIC only accusing the Guccifer 2.0 leaks of being a Russian-directed effort?
There’s an underlying impression that these statements and that the general narrative of Russian interference is to veil political corruption and mishap and perhaps even interagency dispute. It could also be that maintaining the narrative of Russian interference is a form of leverage against Russia.
“For me, the most desultory recent development was the Clinton Administration’s decision to Kremlin bait Trump for saying that he thought it would be a good idea to cooperate with Putin and Russia. I add to that, I am not now nor have I ever been a Trump supporter but I have always been a supporter of day taunt and what the Clinton Administration has done… ( You’re talking about the Clinton campaign, the moderator corrects ) What has come out of the Clinton campaign and it comes every day to my computer. It’s McCarthyism. It’s something I’m old enough to remember the way it affected my professors. It is going to make, no matter who is president, any rational discourse about Russia in this country so much more difficult and it aggrieves me that the publications I have relied on all my life and the columnists I relied on all my life, are on board with this. They say it’s okay. It is not okay. It is bad for all of us and it needs to stop now or we’ll never get out of this new and worse Cold War with Russia.” — Stephen Cohen, American scholar and professor of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University
In retrospect, Stephen Cohen’s concerns have become validated, especially after the election. The Clinton campaign has spiraled into an endless blame game, from blaming the FBI to the Russian government, for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump.
There was a great deal of ideological preconditioning before any official accusations of Russian interference with the 2016 election were made and today Barack Obama is set to announce retaliatory measures in response to the alleged cyber attacks.
In a recent Alex Jones video on potential inaugural disruption, Roger Stone appears to have a Freudian slip in regard to the investigation of Hillary Clinton or perhaps, other investigations?
Of course, anyone who studies psychology understands that a Freudian slip doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Sometimes people simply make a mistake based on other pre-conditioned patterns of thought, in which words get jumbled. However, you never know, this could be a sign of things to come.
At 3:46 of the video, Mr. Stone says “and you want to stand up for Donald Trump during these investi… during these protests to show that we have the proof.”
This apparent Freudian slip would imply that Donald Trump is going after Hillary Clinton or after a group of people.
The Hill released an article reflecting a perspective I had taken seven days prior, in our article on “fake news” and internet censorship. I concluded the article stating that “Both sides are guilty of bias, both push false and misleading narratives, but only one side is calling for internet censorship, only one side has unveiled an incredibly deceitful and destructive agenda.” Of course, I’m referring to the agenda of controlled media to discredit the alternative media as “fake news”.
The war between alternative and controlled media is very real but it’s already over, quite frankly. The alternative media and the movement, in general, have already captured the attention of the people. The left and its calls for censorship will not be tolerated for too long, although it may cause short-term issues. Authoritarianism always struggles to survive in the long run, though, even if successful in the short term.
The censoring of alternative media isn’t well-received by the youth, who distrusts the mainstream media and this will catch up to them.
Trust in the media ( mainstream media ) has dropped to an all-time low.
The Youths Distrust of Mainstream Media
“Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to say they trust the media, but trust has declined among both age groups this year. Currently, 26% of those aged 18 to 49 (down from 36% last year) and 38% of those aged 50 and older (down from 45%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.” – Gallup
There is no reason to believe this trend won’t continue, especially with the popularity of alternative media skyrocketing in contrast to controlled media, which is only experiencing temporary surges.
The democratization of information has lead to the democratization of truth, therein lying the mainstream media’s inevitable demise.
Controlled media has already lost the youth, which created the necessity for alternative media and that necessity will drive the future of media focus and that’s why alternative media is more likely, in the long-run, to overtake the controlled media. However, efforts are being made to curve this phenomenon. For example, CNN recently purchased the social media app Beme, to cultivate the millennial audience. I am predicting that these type of efforts will ultimately fail and will not curve this trend because it does not provide a solution to the problem that created this trend, to begin with.
At some point, controlled media and all media, for that matter, will have to submit to a more informed age of individuals, who will be more capable of deciphering fact from fiction for themselves.
Reddit has banned the PizzaGate subreddit, which was gaining thousands of subscribers a day, under the grounds that it has violated its terms of service agreement.
According to a moderator of r/uncensorednews and former moderator of r/PizzaGate, the PizzaGate subreddit was banned after outside influences forced the moderators of Reddit to shut down the PizzaGate investigation.
“As a previous moderator of /pizzagate, I’d like to say that we did absolutely everything we could to abide by the rules set forth on us by the admins.
No rules were intentionally broken nor did we try to ignore what they told us.
The pizzagate issue is a very sensitive topic and I don’t believe that this was not a clear conscious decision by the admins. After speaking with the rest of the pizzagate mod team, we strongly believe there was a very powerful outside influence which caused the subreddit to be shut down. We believe this due to some information we received outside of Reddit.”
According to another moderator, Reddit was pressured by external sources to shut the subreddit down.
“Amidst the cries of censorship, keep in mind that the admins are simply applying existing sitewide rules, and it’s more than likely that reddit (and its majority owner Avance Publications*) have been pressured from external sources, with threats of litigation, removal of advertising revenue, etc.”
If you don’t know what PizzaGate is, don’t Google it. You will be directed to biased media spins that don’t acknowledge the weird nature of this theory and its finds. I want to clarify, there’s something weird going on here regardless of whether or not the basis of the story is true. I mean to say, there is something they are afraid of, it’s being systematically attacked which says that perhaps, while the basis may be at fault, there is SOMETHING there and perhaps that extends to other matters that they are protecting and do not want to be dug into.
The PizzaGate investigation is migrating to Voat, a non-censorship alternative to Reddit.
Aaron Swarts, a co-founder of Reddit and activist who was bullied into committing suicide, warned us about social media companies pushing to censor the internet. His fear of censorship was not unwarranted as it’s already being planned by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and many other big movers and shakers of the digital media world.
Under the guise of protecting people from “fake news”, legitimate news sources that do not conform to the desired narrative of these corporate and political entities can be targeted and accused of illegitimacy.
These entities have witnessed the effectivity of censorship in China and other countries and want to slowly adopt the same type of censorship in the United States.
The most disturbing part of this push for censorship is that it’s clearly coming from leftist controlled groups that are blatantly combating the “far-right”. For example, in this New York Times article ( Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News), it’s painting an obvious narrative. They’re pushing the narrative that the “Far-Right” is spreading fake news stories, that these people are scammers, and that they are a problem that must be handled.
The obvious irony of these media groups targeting “fake news” is that most if not all of these groups are undeniably guilty of pushing fake news. In fact, former U.S. representative, Ron Paul, took the liberty of exposing many of them. Ron Paul’s list features journalists and media outlets that are guilty of collusion ‘fake news’ revealed by WikiLeaks. For example, WikiLeaks revealed the collusion between Democrats and CNN, as well as many other media outlets which are listed below.
For the purpose of clarification, both Left and Right-Wing media are guilty of creating fake news. Both sides are guilty of bias, both push false and misleading narratives but only one side is calling for internet censorship, only one side has unveiled an incredibly deceitful and destructive agenda.
Is something wrong with Freemasonry? Should it undergo changes? These questions have become common as Freemasons struggle to explain the decline in membership amidst the mounting pressure to modernize the order.
Should Freemasonry Change?
Asserting the necessity for change implies something is broken but nothing is necessarily broken, the order is simply dated and needs to make changes to adapt the modern world.
A great deal of Freemasons reject the notion of change and want to preserve the traditions of Freemasonry. I find this problematic not simply because some of those traditions are regarded as prejudicial in modern times, but also because it’s a counterproductive attitude to have when seeking growth and stability.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Change
From gradual changes to the Old Charges, shift from operative to speculative masonry, the formal establishment of Masonry, the spread of Grand Lodges, countless changes of content and structure in degrees and rituals, the establishment of branches such as the Scottish Rite and York Rite, to Albert Pike’s revisions of the Scottish Rite. The history of Freemasonry is full of changes that benefited and even sparked resurgences of the order. Those changes are proof that positive outcomes are possible with adaptation. In my opinion, it’s all but counterproductive to fear and reject change when historically, it has worked.
The Loss Of Interest
The loss of interest is reflected in the decline of membership that is echoed by various orders and institutions. This indicates a cultural change has caused these declines and therefore, only by adapting to these cultural changes could these declines be potentially reversed.
There are those who claim the order experiences periodic rises and falls and therefore, its decline is of no concern as it will presumably rise again. That’s a misleading and speculative claim, not to mention that it doesn’t explain the declines corresponding in other orders that weren’t corresponding in previous times. There is also the fact that this decline has lasted longer than any of the former periodic declines.
Here is a great article discussing some of the misunderstandings in regard to the membership statistics and what they could imply.
There are many cultural changes and Masonic regulations that could be the cause of these declines or at the very least, aren’t helping the growth of Freemasonry. For example, the general loss of religion, the exclusion of women from Blue Lodge and its extended branches such as the Scottish Rite and York Rite, its exclusion of homosexuals in areas such as Tennessee and Georgia, it’s exclusion of nontheists, its separation of regular Freemasonry from Prince Hall Masonry, etc.
Freemasons of former times believed nontheists incapable of relating to or appreciating its allegories, which incorporate religious concepts and allegories, to convey esoteric truths. Furthermore, Masons of old felt nontheists incapable of understanding the moral ramifications of its teachings. This presumption is outdated and false. A nontheist can appreciate the morality, philosophy, history, allegory, esotericism, and theological motifs of Freemasonry as well as any theist.
Women & Freemasonry
“The Freemasons’ attitude towards women seems extraordinarily out of date. They are outstandingly kind to their wives and to their female employees, who are far less likely to encounter harassment or disrespect from Freemasons than from many employers or higher business executives. But the Freemasons not merely exclude women from their own ranks but also refuse to have any dealings with any other society that accepts women.” – pg. 292 of The Freemasons, Jasper Ridley
There’s a lot of disingenuous placation regarding the admission of women into Freemasonry. For example, women are not able to join the regular Blue Lodge of Freemasonry and thereafter, branches such as the York or Scottish Rite. Instead, it essentially relegates them to side branches that are often perceived to be watered-down branches of Freemasonry. These branches aren’t regarded as the equivalent or counterpart to regular Blue Lodge Freemasonry, nor do they contain the same level of substance. Despite what any Masons claims, it not the same thing and never will be.
It would do a great deal of good if women were allowed in all branches of Freemasonry, meaning regular and officially recognized branches of Freemasonry, not simply side orders. There are many great and intellectual women who would do wonderfully in the York or Scottish Rite but are unable to due to these constraints.
The main issue with the admission of women into these regular bodies of Freemasonry is its opposition by Freemasons themselves. Freemasons, especially older Masons, will conjure an endless stream of irrational excuses and pseudo-arguments with hints of prejudice to prevent anyone from making progress in this area.
“Perhaps it is a sound instinct of self-preservation which makes the Freemasons exclude women; for by the year 2030, if not earlier, no one will believe that a society which excludes women, and consists solely of old and middle-aged men, can possibly exercise any influence in political or public life, either for good or for evil.” pg. 293, The Freemasons, Jasper Ridley
Interestingly, other groups have found a lot of success in allowing and encouraging the admission of women. Lions Club International is the perfect example.
“Lions Club International reported 20,000 new members last year after decades of decline. It has 1.35 million worldwide, says spokesman Dane La Joye.
Reaching out to women has been key, La Joye says. “Women are the fastest-growing segment of our membership today,” he says.” — USA Today
Lions Clubs International has experienced a gradual decline in interest that is echoed by other orders and societies. However, it also experiences dramatic upticks of interest that are NOT seen in other orders and has more general interest. For this reason, other orders should consider following the exemplary nature of Lions Club as its appeal to women has clearly shown a difference in membership, interest, and the general acceptance of people.
Homosexuality & Freemasonry
While the Grand Lodge of Tennessee and Georgia have decided to enact Masonic laws to forbid homosexuals from Freemasonry, most Grand Lodges do NOT support this decision and have urged both Grand Lodges to lift the ban on homosexuality. However, this ( as well as many other things ) affirms the outdated nature of the order and its dogmatic behavior.
The following quotation on the matter from an NPR article about this ruling is precisely what I’m referring to as “dogmatic” behavior in the order.
It’s my simple assertion that dated ‘traditions’ or ‘principles’ of the order are holding it back, and if by viewing the abandonment of them as a ‘compromise’ of the order, it only serves as an expose of prejudice or at the very least, lack of critical thought.
Race & Freemasonry
Race in Freemasonry is complicated. While most Freemasons aren’t racist and welcome men of any color to their lodges, there are areas that won’t. This has been admitted and discussed in many posts that are inquiring about Freemasonry, all of which are generally viewed as unfortunate.
The problem is obvious. There are men of differing races that want to join regular Blue Lodge Freemasonry and not the ‘relegated’ Prince Hall Freemasonry. However, because of various stigmas and issues, it makes the endeavor of conjoining problematic.
There will no tradition of PH or BL Freemasonry if Freemasonry does not survive. It’s in their best interest to preserve Freemasonry itself than to allow it to dwindle into darkness by separating variations of the order. If Freemasonry unites many of its variations and branches, it will do a great deal of good for the order and consolidate its sense of strength and membership.
Skull and Bones suffered similar reactions to their lack of diversity and progression. However, Skull and Bones decided to make some changes and have experienced positive results. Freemasons should not fear those type of changes as the pattern emerging is that making these type of changes has resulted positively.
Stop Blaming Millennials
Ironically, many older Freemasons often blame the decline in Freemasonry on Millennials despite the fact that the decline in Masonic membership started before the Millenials were even born. There are also claims that the Millennial Masons are just too lazy and expect the degrees, rituals, and relative literature to be simplified to accommodate their needs. In truth, it was in the early and mid 90’s that most of the simplification of the craft occurred. For example, the abandoning of Morales & Dogma for A Bridge to Light with the admission that Morales & Dogma is a “tough” read and that “The vast majority of today’s candidates neither enjoy nor comprehend”, its complexity. (Rex R. Hutchens, A Bridge to Light, Introduction To The Revised Edition )
I’m a Millennial and I’ve read both Morales & Dogma and A Bridge to Light countless times. I don’t feel that Morales & Dogma is a tough read nor did I find it difficult to understand the Latin, Hebrew, Greek, or Egyptian references. In fact, Millennials are far better equipped to understand these references than past generations considering that we’ve grown up during the age of the internet and are incredibly used to researching things online at the click of a button.
A Bridge to Light is a simplified and more politically correct version of Morales & Dogma which is ironic since two major complaints against Millennial Masons are that we’re supposedly expecting simplification and political correctness. On the contrary, we want the depth of old.
I believe Morales & Dogma was and still is better at expressing and alluding to the meaning and historical narratives that the degrees are based on. Morales & Dogma does avoid the admission of particular things but is more forward and outright, whereas A Bridge to Light dances around particular subjects, such as that of the Tetramorph by alluding to it but not discussing it in detail.
The only major shift in modern Masonry is the move toward more transparency. This is a great thing and I commend those who worked to push that to the forefront of Masonic matters. If anything, this is at least one fairly recent change that adapts well to modern culture.
Transparency is not only a principle but an obligation of Freemasonry.
“Rather than being a secret society, Freemasonry is a revealer of secrets.” — pg. 1, A Bridge To Light, Rex R. Hutchens
An Uncomfortable Truth
The perception that Freemasonry is failing has done a lot of damage alone and regardless of where you stand, doing nothing about it will only allow that perception to inform reality and therefore, allow it to continue growing. The only answer is to create positive changes that will stimulate the growth of the order and break that stigma.
An important thing to understand is that saying Freemasons should fully accept women, any race, and any sexual orientation to all of its branches and bodies is only a radical idea to Freemasons. To most of our modern society, these ideas aren’t the least radical, which shows just how dated and behind Freemason has become. If Freemasons are so concerned with preserving tradition then they should preserve its tradition of progressive principles, which it was founded upon.
Recently, I asserted that the U.S. political ruling class are losing their ideological stranglehold over the masses. Now, there’s some evidence to back that claim. American trust in media is at an all-time low and that can only be the result of the blatant and outright reckless media bias, censorship, and controlled interest of the media that’s continually being exposed, especially amidst the 2016 election.
“WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.
Gallup began asking this question in 1972, and on a yearly basis since 1997. Over the history of the entire trend, Americans’ trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans’ trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily. It has consistently been below a majority level since 2007.
Republicans Fuel Drop in Media Trust
While it is clear Americans’ trust in the media has been eroding over time, the election campaign may be the reason that it has fallen so sharply this year. With many Republican leaders and conservative pundits saying Hillary Clinton has received overly positive media attention, while Donald Trump has been receiving unfair or negative attention, this may be the prime reason their relatively low trust in the media has evaporated even more. It is also possible that Republicans think less of the media as a result of Trump’s sharp criticisms of the press. Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.
Democrats’ and independents’ trust in the media has declined only marginally, with 51% of Democrats (compared with 55% last year) and 30% of independents (versus 33% last year) expressing trust. Over the past 20 years, Democrats have generally expressed more trust than Republicans in the media, although in 2000, the two parties were most closely aligned, with 53% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans professing trust.
Trust in Mass Media Falls Across Age Groups
Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to say they trust the media, but trust has declined among both age groups this year. Currently, 26% of those aged 18 to 49 (down from 36% last year) and 38% of those aged 50 and older (down from 45%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.
In 2001, younger Americans (55%) were more likely than older Americans (50%) to express trust and confidence in mass media. This gap emerged again in 2005 when 53% of 18- to 49-year-olds had trust and 45% of those 50 and older expressed the same sentiment. Yet in the past decade, older Americans have mostly had more confidence than younger Americans, and this year, the gap between these age groups is 12 points. And 2016 marks the first time that confidence among older Americans has dropped below 40% in polling since 2001.
The divisive presidential election this year may be corroding Americans’ trust and confidence in the media, particularly among Republicans who may believe the “mainstream media” are too hyperfocused on every controversial statement or policy proposal from Trump while devoting far less attention to controversies surrounding the Clinton campaign. However, the slide in media trust has been happening for the past decade. Before 2004, it was common for a majority of Americans to profess at least some trust in the mass media, but since then, less than half of Americans feel that way. Now, only about a third of the U.S. has any trust in the Fourth Estate, a stunning development for an institution designed to inform the public.
With the explosion of the mass media in recent years, especially the prevalence of blogs, vlogs and social media, perhaps Americans decry lower standards for journalism. When opinion-driven writing becomes something like the norm, Americans may be wary of placing trust on the work of media institutions that have less rigorous reporting criteria than in the past. On the other hand, as blogs and social media “mature,” they may improve in the American public’s eyes. This could, in turn, elevate Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media as a whole.