What Do I Mean By “Narrative”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I don’t agree.”

Some folks disagreed with my instant assessment of the Syrian strike. My assessment: Trump’s surprise military attack will shift four narratives in Trump’s favor:

  • Trump is Hitler: dead
  • Trump is a Russian agent: dead
  • Trump is incompetent: dying
  • Trump is a lightweight among world leaders: dead

In other words, it took 59 cruise missiles to blow up the left’s anti-Trump narratives.

But my friends disagree. That’s okay. I don’t hang around with “yes” people.

Still, I figured I should at least explain what I mean by “narrative.”

Narrative, in this context, is the story we tell ourselves. It’s not the stories we are told. And the narratives develop from information that reaches the brain, often without awareness. (See the video below to learn just open you are to suggestion.)

Check this out first.

Right now, I am sitting in a cafe. One end of this cafe is huge atrium with glass on three sides and above your head. Looking out through the glass I see blooming trees. Those budding leaves are laboring to blot out the bright blue sky beyond. Those leaves want all that sunlight to themselves.

That’s the narrative in my head about what I see outside. Thirty or so other people can see the same world beyond that atrium. But I am pretty confident no one else sees the leaves conspiring to block my view of the sky (what color is the sky?). Each person has a slightly different narrative about those leaves.

If I were to stand up and announce my narrative, some people would adopt it as-is.

But most of those people would, instead, become aware of the view beyond the atrium. Their minds would conjure up a story about that they see. Their stories would be influenced by my bizarre outburst. They would not simply adopt my narrative. They would form their own narratives under my influence. And their narratives would influence everything they see through the atrium’s glass.

Until something else happens—some new influence—alters that narrative.

Now, back to the Syrian air strike.

Here you are reading my blog. You pay more attention to politics than most people do. You are more informed than many people, don’t you agree?

So think about the people who pay only slight attention to politics and world events. How do they fill their days? How do their brains craft narratives about the world?

Those people’s narratives form just like the people in the cafe looking out the atrium. Their brains pick up bits and pieces of someone else’s narrative to form their own.

CNN is on everywhere. In airports, restaurants, doctors offices, and even in this cafe where I’m writing. For months, those people have picked up narratives about “Hitler,” “Russia,” “clown,” and “isolationist.” Even without people knowing it, they’d formed a narrative in their own minds about President Trump. However they voted, if they voted at all, those narratives were influenced by CNN’s words. That’s simply how the brain works.

And those narratives got stronger and stronger every day. Until something caused people to re-evaluate their won private narratives. Something big enough, emotional enough, to make people pay attention for a moment.

Dying babies—babies!—gets their attention. Now, they’re listening.

And this is what they’re hearing:

“No child of God should ever suffer such horrors.”

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies! — little babies, … that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike . . . “

These are the words of President Trump. Trump’s biggest enemies—the people who have helped shape those scary narratives—repeat these words. They repeat Trump’s humanitarian, decisive words again and again. That’s high information density combined with high emotional intensity. The recipe for narrative change.

Imagine sitting in this atrium with your narrative about the trees. You’re not aware of that narrative. It’s deep inside your brain. You only recall it when you need it for some reason. As you sip your coffee, you don’t need your narrative. Then . . .

CRASH! A tree branch the length of a telephone pole crashes through the atrium.

The danger alerts your attention. Your brain pulls that old narrative out of cold storage. Then your brain updates that narrative. The shattering glass is new information. Whatever your old narrative might have been, it’s different now, guaranteed. It’s a different narrative now.

When President Trump crashed Assad’s slaughter party with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, he shattered a lot of atriums. Today, people are writing new narratives. And most of those new narratives involve a bold and decisive leader who can’t stand seeing babies slaughtered.

Everything has changed.

Now for that video I promised.

 

Trump Launched 59 Cruise Missiles at Leftist Narratives

Reading Time: 2 minutes

No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

—President Donald J. Trump

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

That’s another way of saying the pen is mightier than the sword.

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

Tonight, President Trump blew up four narratives of the left. And he made America great again in the world.

First, the Hitler narrative is dead as a doornail. A few people really believed Trump was the reincarnation of Hitler. By launching a Navy cruise missile strike on Syria, Trump used US weapons to protect and defend and avenge Muslim babies. Hitler didn’t do that. Humanitarians do what Trump did. Humanitarians. Trump just moved from Hitler to Mother Teresa. Narrative destroyed.

Second, the Russia narrative is dead as a doornail. Dead. Over. You will never hear about Russian complicity again. Trump attacked a Russian ally in living color. He punched Putin in the nose. The Russian narrative is done. Forever.

Third, the incompetent narrative is dead as a doornail. Incompetent people telegraph their moves. Trump shocked the entire world by bombing the hell out of a Syrian air base seemingly without warning. He knows what he’s doing, and that “incompetent” narrative is now dead.

Fourth, the “Trump is a lightweight” narrative is dead as a doornail. Don’t forget that commie Chinese dictator Xi is in Mar-a-Lago. Today, Xi was the senior statesman. Tomorrow, Trump will be the big bull in the room. Xi knows it. Trump just took the lead on the world’s stage.

I’m not going to debate the details of Trump’s action. Because details don’t matter. Ever. Narratives matter, because narratives are the most powerful weapons in the world.

Trump just made America great again. He made us the big kids on the block, where the block is the world.

Geopolitics is back. Realpolitik is in. America is in charge. And 18 months of leftist, anti-Trump narrative is dead as a doornail. Dead as doornail.

What is North Korea thinking now? What is Iran thinking now?

Tired of winning yet?

P.S. Two of my children are in harm’s way in the US Navy. My thanks to them for their dedication and professionalism.

UPDATE: This image and message will sink deeply into the American psyche>

New York Times emphasizes the same Trump pull quote as I did:

The Right Question to Bring Down Susan Rice

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Susan Rice admitted she lied. She requested unmaskings of Trump associates.
 
Rice says her unmasking requests were routine. Maybe they were.
 
We can find out. It’s simple data analysis. I’ll show you how. But, first, you have to know the right question to ask. And few people do. 
 

Right Questions

You hear a lot of talk about whether Susan Rice requested unmasking of Trump associates. That’s a good question, but it’s not enough. And almost everyone fails to ask the most important question.
 
I’ve written before about the question we fail to ask. It’s so simple. Ask for the instances you’re not interested in. Only then will you appreciate the ones you are interested in. 
 
The question investigators need to ask is this: of all the unmaskings Rice requested, now many were Trump associates?
 
Here are two hypothetical charts. One shows only the instances Rice requested unmasking of Trump people. The other shows her requests for Trump and non-Trump unmaskings.
Now, let’s pretend we ask for all of Susan Rice’s requests for unmasking. And we overlay them with Trump unmaskings.
 
[trump-n
 
Now, we see that most of Rice’s unmasking requests involved Trump associates. If these were real data, that is. They’re not. This is just a hypothetical.
We also see that she became increasingly interested in Trump as the election drew closer. And we see that her interest in non-Trump unmaskings remained flat.

Watch the Trend Lines

When we add trend lines, we get an even better picture of Rice’s obsession with Trump associates.
 
Again, this is all hypothetical because I don’t have access to the White House unmasking request logs. But the White House does. If Susan Rice’s requests for unmaskings disproportionately involved Trump people, we know she was politically motivated.
 
White House logs show every single unmasking request, when they came, and who requested them. Let’s hope Congressional investigators remember to ask this most important question. And, remember: sometimes the answer your looking for is in the data you’re not looking at. 

Obama Admin Wiretapped Trump *UPDATE 2*

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Now you know. You can stop doubting. You have more than hope.

The Obama administration spied on Donald Trump and his campaign and transition teams. There is no longer any doubt.

The questions that remain are:

  • Who ordered and authorized the illegal wiretaps?
  • Who illegally received and disseminated the intelligence?
  • What did Obama know?

It’s easy to declare the Obama Admin guilty after Evelyn Farkas’s admissions on MSNBC. Her admissions indicate:

  • Obama admin illegally spied on Trump team
  • She urges Obama intelligence officials to disseminate raw intelligence to Congress and the press
  • Her motivation was purely political

After admitting to possible felonies, Farkas has tried to erase her admissions. PowerLine describes her as “going Sergeant Schultz.” But the deeper you go, the dirty she looks.

Adding to Farkas’s admission, we know now that Rep. Devin Nunes knew about the wiretaps as far back as January. His attempts to see the documents were stonewalled by Obama holdovers in the intelligence community.

Now, even Democrats have access to those damning documents that could send Farkas and many other Obama officials to prison. They can’t hide the truth much longer.

Meanwhile, the CIA’s case against Trump just turned into the people’s case against the CIA. Wikileaks published the source code the CIA uses to hack into private servers (like the DNC’s) and leave “fingerprints” of Russian hackers. It now looks to everyone like the whole “Russia did it” narrative was contrived and executed by criminals in the CIA. Criminals in the CIA. Just like the Watergate days.

Turns out, again, that the more outlandish Trump’s proclamations, the more right they are. As I told you. Trust Trump. He’s more accurate than CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today combined. Trump only sounds crazy because he’s the only one telling you the truth. In a sea of lies, the truth sounds crazy.

Everyone who mocked or doubted Trump’s “wiretap” tweets owes President Trump an apology. That includes Obama sympathizers in the GOP, like Senator John “Songbird” McCain.

UPDATE Fox News has learned that the official who illegally “unmasked” Trump associates was “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world.” More from Fox:

Intelligence and House sources with direct knowledge of the disclosure of classified names told Fox News that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., now knows who is responsible — and that person is not in the FBI.

For a private citizen to be “unmasked,” or named, in an intelligence report is extremely rare. Typically, the American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.

Democrats might do a Friday document dump this afternoon. They’re realizing the game is over. People will go to prison for this.

 Update 2:  via The Gateway Pundit:

Senior Fox News Correspondent, Adam Housley revealed today that Intel Chair Devin Nunes knows who unmasked Trump and his associates. Sources also told him that the unmasking was purely for political purposes to embarrass Trump and had NOTHING to do with national security. 

 

The Day Reagan Was Shot

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Think about the sun, Pippin
Think about her golden glance
How she lights the world up
Well, now it’s your chance
With the guardian of splendor
Inviting you to dance
Pippin
Think about the sun
Finale, Pippin by Stephen Schwarz

We were standing near the glass doors at the back of the theatre waiting for the bell.

Bishop DuBourg High School’s theatre doubled as its theatre classroom. The last class of the day was almost over. We were waiting for the bell to ring. The last bell of the day.

At the other end of the room, the stage held the set for Pippin which opened two weeks later. I would play Pippin’s half-brother Lewis in that production. My first musical.

The bell didn’t ring on time. We could see through the glass doors that some teachers had released students early. But not Mr. Leibrecht. Jim Leibrecht, the best high school theatre teacher and director you could ask for, stood and chatted with us.

Leibrecht and I didn’t agree on politics. He was not a Reaganite. Nor a Republican. I was. I appreciated and respected Jim Leibrecht too much to talk politics with him. Not worth it. Why risk a friendship or mentorship. I don’t remember what we talked about, me and the class’s dozen students and Leibrecht, but it wasn’t politics. It was probably Pippin.

Five minutes after the bell should have rung, our principal Floyd Hacker come on the PA. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I’ll pretend I do:

“The news is reporting that President Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt in Washington DC this afternoon. This is a sad moment in our lives and in the life of the United States. We’ve been through this too many times in my life. I do not know the President’s condition, but he alive and has been taken to a hospital. The shooter is in custody. Now, let’s offer a prayer for the President’s recovery and for our country before dismissal.”

Close enough.

Then, nearly 2,000 Catholic teenagers and the faculty prayed a Hail Mary and an Our Father in unison. We were not alone. From Time magazine’s issue immediately after Reagan was shot:

When the President was shot, Americans prayed very hard, not for the life of an abstraction, but for a man, one who as leader of the democracy carries some thing of everyone in that mortal chest.

The bell rang. No one moved.

Girls were crying. Maybe I was, too. The halls were silent except for muffled yelps and sniffles. Teachers and students who had never been shy about voicing their dislike of Ronald Reagan looked shocked and sad. An attack on one was an attack on all. At 3:05 p.m. CST on March 30, 1981, we were all Reagan’s children (or grandchildren).

I don’t remember if we had Pippin rehearsal after school. I watched Nightline that night, as I did most nights. Stories were already emerging about Reagan’s remarkable humor and humility. “Does anybody know what that’ guy’s beef was?” “I hope you’re all Republicans,” the Gipper told the doctors. “I forgot to duck.”

There were stories of people cheering the news. I didn’t see anyone celebrate firsthand. I did hear people joke about it. I probably did, too. Generation X never held back except around elders we wanted to impress. Among that generation at that time, pulling punches on irreverent jokes was a crime. And, besides, Reagan sort of gave us permission to crack wise about it. He went first.

How does this memory of the day Reagan got shot make you feel now? Deep inside where the dark and light fight for attention and dominance, how does the idea of a President’s mortality fall out?

And what if Trump got shot? How would you handle the reaction from the left? From the NeverTrump establishment types?

What would happen to society if some selfish leftists or some rogue Secret Service agent attacked President Trump? Would Time magazine write about a nation praying together for his recovery?

I usually discount the notion that people have fundamentally changed. But culture does change. In the culture of 1981, we all still followed the lead of our WWII-era guides. That generation still dominated boardrooms, school administrations, and politics at every level. In 1981, Baby Boomers like the Clintons were busy climbing the culture’s social ladders. The Silent Generation had arrived and relaxed in its middle management haven. And Gen X was busy sarcastically critiquing the phoniness and pointlessness of everything like real-life Holden Caulfields.

Whatever the generational undercurrents each cohort stirred beneath, in 1981 the surface of American cultures remained firmly in the hands of the Greatest Generation

But times have changed now. The World War II generation, typified by George H. W. Bush don’t get around much anymore. The Silents are in the back half of their retirement years. Baby Boomers, desperate to hang on to the youth they misspent, cling to the last vestiges of power in politics and business and entertainment. Sober and skeptical, Generation X wields its growing power quietly as our Millennial siblings and children climb out from their parents’ basements. And the decorum imposed on our culture by the Greatest Generation has been replaced by angry hatred fomented by the clinging Boomers who encourage the worst behavior on the part of their Millennial grandchildren. David Horowitz, Boomer radical turned conservative Trump supporter, warned us in 1989 that his generation was the most destructive in US history. And they weren’t done.

David Horowitz, Boomer radical turned conservative Trump supporter, warned us in 1989 that his generation was the most destructive in US history. And they weren’t done.

Pippin, in the play by that name, wants to do something great with his life. He tries academia, sex, war, religion, and politics. All leave him empty.

In the end, Pippin is torn between two extremes of greatness: the greatness of self-immolation and the greatness of being a good husband and stepfather to a young boy.

I wanted magic shows and miracles
Mirages to touch
I wanted such a little thing from life
I wanted so much
I never came close, my love
We never came near
It never was there
I think it was here
—Finale, Pippin by Stephen Schwarz

When I reflect on that day in March 1981, before my generation even had a name, I feel like America has walked millions of miles in Pippin’s shoes. The Boomers beckon us to go out in one perfect flame that will absolve humanity, at least American humanity, of its many sins. Behind those Boomers stand these Gen Xers. We’re too chastened by life to tell the Boomers their wrong. They wouldn’t listen, anyway. But we’re also too wise to think that they’re right.

The Boomers wanted something perfect. Something shiny and pure. But, as Pippin tells us, there’s no color you can have on earth that won’t finally fade.

Maybe America isn’t perfect. But anyone who takes a look around the world will see that no one’s ever done better. No one’s even come close. But we nearly came near during that magic moment called the Eighties. Thank God that bullet missed its mark.

Maybe we can come a little closer this time. If Donald Trump, like Reagan, can survive the hatred and selfishness of that most destructive generation.

Trump’s Next Move: Infrastructure

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ve changed my mind on priority.

Instead of going to tax reform next, President Trump should work on that big-league infrastructure bill. Now. Fast.

President Trump needs a big win because power is in perception. He also needs to put Democrats in a bind. Plus, he needs to prove he can pass big legislation without all GOP factions on board.

The solution is infrastructure.

During the campaign, Trump spoke of a massive building project to rejuvenate our roads, modernize our airports, and more. Trump’s dream sounds more like a traditional Democrat plan than a Republican idea. (Unless you count Eisenhower and Reagan as Republicans.) Shifting to infrastructure now could more than overcome Trump’s defeat on health care.

Infrastructure Can Pass

Trump’s best known for building his way to billionaire status. That makes Trump seem like an expert on the subject. No one considered Trump an expert on government health care. And no one can deny that he’s an expert on building big, huge, beautiful things and running them great.

Byron York, one of my favorite columnists, makes a great point today in a column called “14 Lessons from the GOP Obamacare Debacle“:

Had Trump and the House GOP tackled, say, an infrastructure bill first, the story from Capitol Hill would have been a president and Congress giving things to the American people — surely a more popular legislative start to an already controversial presidency.

Even though infrastructure will have enemies in the GOP, Congressmen and Senators from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania know that jobs matter. Democrat governors are openly salivating for the projects. So are a lot of Republican state legislatures, though less publicly.

Infrastructure projects promise both immediate, short-term jobs and longer term boosts to productivity and growth. Even some Freedom Caucus members from the rust belt will feel obliged to get on board this train.

But that’s not the best part.

Democrats Will Cross Over for Infrastructure

Trump’s relationships with labor unions are already high for a Republican president. Now, he needs to deliver something to that small but well-funded and activist constituency. He needs to deliver jobs.

Democrats know they can’t fight Trump on a bill that puts a lot of union members to work. Infrastructure will attract enough Democrat votes to neutralize the Freedom Caucus, which will probably oppose the legislation.

And that last point is perhaps the most important.

Courting Democrats Builds Leverage With Republicans

President Trump and Reince Priebus both said they are more willing to work with Democrats now than before the health care debacle. That’s smart negotiating. It’s leverage.

If you remember back to 2015, a lot of Republicans were complaining that many of Trump’s ideas sounded more like a Democrat. That means Trump would be completely consistent with himself if he sought more support from the other party.

Plus, in 2020, Trump won’t be judged by how happy he made 40 members of the Freedom Caucus. He’ll be judged by whether or not he made America great again in the eyes of voters. That’s just the way it is.

And the GOP’s majorities in Congress are so slim that Trump really needs some Democrats down the road. He could have used a dozen in the House on Friday. He will definitely some in the Senate for just about everything.

Again, hat tip to Byron York for reminding us:

Find more votes. Unless there is exceptional unity on an issue, the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to ignore Democrats and pass big legislation entirely on its own. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (barely) passed Obamacare with 253 Democrats in the House and 60 in the Senate. Paul Ryan has 237 Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has 52. The GOP has virtually no room for error.

If every major bill relies on every Republican faction, Trump will accomplish nothing and Democrats will take the House in 2018. Believe me, Democrats will take the House in 2018 if Trump and the Republicans don’t get big things done. (I’m not alone on this. Ted Cruz agrees with me.)

As we saw last week, even after Mark Meadows and David Brat reach an agreement with House leadership and the White House, Meadows and Brat might not deliver the Freedom Caucus. There’s a chance that group will oppose all major legislation, including tax reform if it’s not to their liking. So Trump needs to attract some Democrats now, and infrastructure is the low-hanging fruit.

And timing is important on getting those Democrat cross-overs.

Commitment and Consistency

The sooner some Democrats hold their noses and vote for a Trump initiative, the more Trump can rely on those Democrats in the future. You know this because of the persuasion principle called “commitment and consistency.” The longer Democrats vote “no” on everything the president proposes, the harder it will be for them to get behind the president later.

Researchers find in numerous studies that getting people to take an easy, painless step now makes it more likely that they’ll take a harder, more painful step in the future. That’s because the brain is wired to display consistency with past commitments.

With the right messaging, those Democrats who support the bill will make a statement of commitment to jobs, growth, and making America great again. When it comes time to vote on tax reform, Trump just needs to wrap that legislation in the same commitment language.

A strong move on infrastructure would make a lot of people happy. Happy people see more positives than unhappy people. That makes it easier for people find positives in future, tougher legislation like tax reform.

If Trump makes a strong move on infrastructure in the next two weeks, his larger vision will pick up steam after the summer recess. And the warring factions in the GOP will have to consider this: are their interests better off if they negotiate with Trump or if the Democrats negotiate with Trimp?

Voters will judge Republicans on what they get done between now and the 2018 elections. So far, they’re putting up goose eggs. A big win on infrastructure will make a lot of people happy and forge new alliances that can make America great again.