Trump Rule 5150: Deflect via Freak Out

King Trump

Donald Trump tweets most weekday mornings at 7 am (give or take a half hour) in an obvious attempt to direct the day’s news coverage. The over-the-top tweets create great controversy and drama, rallying his core. Similarly, his press conference was a live epic lambast moving from 140 characters to more than an hour of live ranting. These crazy communications deflect attention away from Trump’s real political problems.

Rarely about the actual work performed, bombastic posts and crazy media interactions embellish his accomplishments while often attacking the media corps. In turn, the media scrambles to disprove Trump, and defend themselves.

This misdirection keeps everyone off their game, and in many cases distracts journalists from focusing on core issues like the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. It is the Trump Administration’s favorite red herring. And it works every time.

Consider that Trump’s unhinged media conference on Thursday happened at an opportune time for the young Trump Administration. In the previous five days the young presidency suffered the following problems:

  • The loss of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn due to the growing Russia hack scandal.
  • Andrew Puzden’s failed Labor Secretary nomination.
  • Several additional embarrassing stories about the Trump White House and its staff’s behavior, including an unbelievable roasting by Saturday Night Live.

The ultimate live freak-out turned into a media spectacle, dominating every major news network and even causing conservative news source Fox News to rebuke Trump and his team. Being crazy worked again for Trump. Now everyone is focussed on the President’s mental health , the media, and how dysfunctional the White House has become in just one month.

What happened to the Russia story? Or the bad hires? Everyone I know has been talking about Trump’s crazy presser for the past few days. Mission accomplished!

Accomplishment 2: Solidify the Core

Trump’s mastery of public relations misdirection extends to his messaging. Part of attacking the media includes reinforcing messaging to the Trump core of right-wing extremists and conservatives. Over and over again, you hear the mnemonic telling of fake news, of the heroic people’s President Trump versus the dastardly enemy, the media.

Going back to this week’s presser, Trump’s core saw the ultimate beat down of self-righteous, snotty liberal journalists. Trump supporting Americans and their media outletsthink Trump did just fine, and that the liberal media got their just deserves.

Online, the battle continues. Right wing supporters parrot Trump’s anger, attacking the media and dissenting voices on social media as “snowflake libtards.” Arguments happen, likes occur, and as a result, combatants are rewarded for the attention by their brain: Dopamine is literally released.

As a result, entrenched opinions become firmer, and Trump’s core intensifies its support. He only needs a significant minority to keep his reelection hopes alive.

Not bad for a loco con man.

Acting “5150” in the face of facts benefits Trump. It distracts journalists and perhaps hurts their credibility, though increasingly these attacks help besieged media outlets with higher ratings.

Fighting Off the Crazy

How does one combat this kind of craziness? It takes some courage to go out on social media and state your views, but increasingly this seems to be the digital battlefield for Trump.

Twitter is where he wages his war on most days. Facebook and Twitter are where his core attacks the media and those of us who care to dissent. Thank God the Instagram post doesn’t lend itself as well to Trump’s message

I have decided to reply as much as possible to Trump’s Twitter rants, and contribute to his negative tonality ratings. Afterall, he is a ratings obsessed narcissist. Don’t think he isn’t aware how the conversation is faring online.

Yes, I get called a libtard snowflake, which is funny since I used to be a Republican voter before the Iraq war. Names are all the baby Trumpers have to throw, and it’s pretty easy to ignore, mute, or block them.

Those who are firmly set against Trump must demand accountability from the media and elected representatives. The media must be held a countable to the larger Trump story, which is corporate corruption, conflict of interest, election fraud, and empty promises. With elected officials, find ways to communicate with them, even when they refuse to answer their phones and cancel the town halls.

The Battle of Inches

Wage your battle publicly so it can be seen in peer networks. It is a battle of inches, and you don’t know when you will activate an acquaintance.

Generally, the battle of inches seems to be going the wrong way for Trump. His approval ratings are dropping ever so slowly and are now hovering at or below 40% (His Fox and Friends amigos say under 40%).

If Trump drops below the Mendoza Line (below 30% in political terms), you can expect cracks in the foundation to widen and the GOP to finally stop protecting him. Elected Republicans will feel safer rebuking and perhaps even removing Trump if they know their party base will permit it. This can happen, especially if Trump is unable to fulfill his job promises.

Until then, the burden of responsibility relies on the average citizen to actively support factual reporting, decent government behavior, and of course, resist. And persist.

Originally published on the Huffington Post.

Red Herrings, Misdirection, and the Destructive Art of Spin

All Americans Are Muslims

Don’t kid yourself. When you see Donald Trump and his flacks attacking the media and its accuracy, they are not always protecting his ego. These attacks intend to destroy the credibility of the media, and distract the American public from focusing on the critical issues that threaten our Democracy. The Trump Administration is serving a daily dose of red herrings, misdirection tactics, and spin to the American Public.

Red Herring

Worse, some members of the media are incapable of seeing through it. They take the media war bate like a cupcake waved in front of a child.

Consider how much time the media wasted this week on whether or not to call Donald Trump a liar. Instead of name calling, they should seek the smoking guns that prove Trump is intentionally lying. Regardless of the fine points of proving someone a liar by ethical media terms, Trump’s false words are not the issue. The real issue is the systematic destruction of the American democracy.

Meanwhile, Trump’s spinmasters have taken several actions to directly threaten the United States well-being:

  • Trump single-handedly destroyed U.S. Mexico relations in a matter of 36 hours.
  • He banned more than a hundred million Muslims from entering the United States saying “We don’t want them here,” on International Holocaust Rememberance Day. Think about that.
  • Trump promised an investigation into systematic voter fraud, an intentional move to suppress minority voting eligibility.
  • Replaced the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence on the National Security Council with Alt-right leader Stephen Bannon.
  • The Trump leadership team directly assaulted women’s rights, starting with abortion.
  • We as citizens and members of the media need to focus on the core actions being taken by Donald Trump to destroy the democratic institutions that make the United States of America.

    A Company of Spinners

    King Trump

    Mr. Trump is a malevolent and perhaps disturbed PR genius with zero ethics. His counterparts Stephen Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Sean Spicer are even worse, taking the art of deception to new lows unseen since the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This is what happens when you let power-hungry PR people run the country. Retaining power through spin matters more than right actions.

    Let’s be clear. Trump won on an electoral plurality, not a general vote majority. He knows that maintaining the plurality is crucial while he attempts to suppress the majority. That is how he will eventually achieve a stranglehold on national power.

    Misdirection

    Keeping the media on its heals with misdirection and fake drama helps achieve that objective. The misdirection bates the media into attacks so the Trump team can tell their sycophant following the media are liars.

    Journalists are getting played like a violin when they fight with Trump and his three spinning lieutenants about lying. The media drama furthers the Trump cause.

    Then the narrative becomes about the much maligned Trump attacked by a liberal media corps who don’t want him to make America great again. Pathetic, right? But it’s working with the plurality, and therein lies the long-term danger.

    Puncture the Spin

    Proud Muslim and American Military Family

    Jay Rosen had it right in his suddenly frighteningly titled blog pressthink about sending the interns to the white House briefing room. The Trump story is somewhere else.

    The Trump PR machine will continue to spew alternative facts and attack the media as part of its attempts to deceive the American public and implement its malicious agenda. The media should not cooperate, nor should they treat such blatant attempts to deliver spin as news.

    Spin

    Instead, journalists need to focus on the Trump story from outside sources. Trump team tweets and PR announcements are just spin. Prove Trump wrong through sources, documents, and investigative stories.

    The best two political stories I read this week came from investigative reporters. The first was the Washington Post accounting of the acting director of the National Park Service Michael Reynolds about a phone call with Mr. Trump in which the president pressured him to falsify visual evidence about the inauguration crowd size.

    The second story focused on the Republican retreat in Philadelphia this week. Again, the Washington Post obtained private information — this time in form of a tape — about GOP’s concerns on how to repeal Obamacare. The story revealed that the Trump Administration does not have a plan to assist in that effort.

    These types of stories successfully counter the Trump Administration’s spin and puts the President on his heels. Further, when the Trump Administration throws the media “shade”, journalists should simply ignore it. They are empowered by the First Amendment. It is the Trump Administration that has no or should have no credibility.

    A Time to Fight

    We Are Happy You Are Here

    In my opinion, every person with an Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and/or Twitter account that cares about the United States democracy needs to become actively engaged in the political conversation. We contribute to the overall media story. This is a time to fight. Our country’s principles and way of life are endangered.

    Get active. Here are things I am doing to serve our country and combat Trump’s brand of fascism:

  • Volunteering with ACLU Virginia as a strategic advisor.
  • Taking protest photos when I can, time permitting.
  • Turning down pro-Trump related projects, such as photographing an inaugural ball (truth).
  • Participating in pro-Democracy projects like the UnPresidented book effort on Kickstarter (support us, please).
  • And yes, contacting my Congressional representatives by phone, Twitter, and mail.
  • If Trump succeeds in turning our country into an autocratic state, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Get active.

    Originally published on the Huffington Post.

    Poor Media Literacy Spawns Fake News Crisis

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    Two and half years ago I wrote about failing literacy in America, caused in part by evolving digital media types. The average citizen is losing the ability to understand the written word, and cannot discern quality information online based on text. Never did I imagine that a crisis would come to a fore as quickly as it has with this year’s fake news crisis.

    In 2014 I wrote, “Part of literacy… is being able to delineate quality information from bad data. In the visual world, that includes producing and consuming quality media in a loud environment.”

    Since then we have witnessed the election of Donald Trump, Pizzagate, and the general rise of digital fake news. Today, any persona has the ability to dismiss any other group or media outlet as biased.

    As a result, less trust exists for the media. Even triangulating the facts behind a story does not guarantee the data offered is actual truth. In fact, it takes a chorus of diverse voices to make even the unwilling yield to truth. Still, liars and those who want to refute such stories — propagandists like Donald Trump, for example — can call it a “conspiracy.”

    The ability to widely disseminate bad information and have it shared with trusting peers creates what is now being called a post-truth reality. There is no fact that can withstand the battering of the adamantly wrong and intentionally incorrect. That is scary, my friends.

    Most Adults Cannot Discern Quality Information

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    The average American is not prepared to learn or understand information online. A recent Pew study showed that sixty percent of American adults don’t know whether the information they are consuming online is trustworthy.

    There is no obvious answer for our digital literacy crisis. People are not questioning what they read online. Worse, they are unable to prepare their own children and grandchildren to discern quality information online, either.

    This leaves the imparting of media literacy skills to our schools. As someone currently working in the edtech space, I can tell you that America’s schools are just coming to understand how to best implement online learning. Some schools are very good at it, others don’t even have basic computing devices for their children.

    In addition to understanding how to consume information online, parents and educators must learn and teach how to research the information they are receiving. Questioning information must become second nature. We need to ask questions like:

    • Is this information from a credible source?
    • What data is providing the basis for this story?
    • Is the research reliable and based on statistically relevant data (whether it’s a video of an event or a study of thousands of people)?
    • Are there similar stories and data that support the source?

    These are basic questions that the average American doesn’t ask online. Instead, we simply trust the source who shared that information. Whether it is a peer sending a story via email or a social network algorithm, the online trust economy created by digital media channels has demonstrated its truest weakness.

    Slanted News

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    As social media has risen and traditional media have lost market share, news outlets have moved to tabloidesque journalism from formerly trustworthy brands. We have also seen media fracture to cater to smaller demographics, which in turn has created polarized community groups. Most media outlets serve their smaller constituencies with sensational stories drummed up to captivate the human mind. Click bait rules the day.

    A younger, smaller media corps with less seasoned editors behind them now write sensational headlines with shaky content. These stories lack the factual quality that even a second tier news outlet would have demanded two decades ago.

    Unfortunately, people fall prey to the sensational. The human mind processes it as entertainment and humor, and then latches onto it as fact. The human mind is naturally attracted to the sensational, and when they share this “news” they receive endorphin affirmation from likes and comments.

    Then there are those who seek to sway minds with fake news, propaganda disguised as tabloid news. These stories have been deployed through the interwebs, and in actuality through the centuries, with great damage to society.

    Today, sensational and fake news stories spread like wildfire thanks to the Internet. Facebook has moved from its original intent to connect people to a viral mechanism to misinform them.

    A cycle has been created with likes falling along party lines. With bad information comes unwieldy results. And here we are, a world where the very truth itself can be debated and hucksters can use propaganda and smeer tactics to convince the public they are right.

    My News Experiment

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    In the wake of the Trump election, I found myself needing to read more my then narrow group of political news media, primarily CNN, the New York Times, and Politico. I started reading more conservative outlets, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, as well as the Washington Post and USA Today. In addition, I tried Breitbart News but found it to be so malicious and ridiculous that I could not stomach it. Don’t get cocky, liberals, I could say the same thing about Jezebel.

    My overall assessment surprised me. While groups of media tended to cover similar stories — e.g. “liberal media” outlets the Washington Post, CNN and the New York Times and the conservative group of the WSJ, and Fox News — none of them reported stories in the same way. Here is a masthead by masthead review:

    CNN: Sensational and over the top. Pure tabloid, almost none of it seems well grounded.

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    Fox News: Sometimes grounded, but extremely slanted towards the conservative. Runs a fair amount of link-bait chum that leans towards the malicious. When Fox owns a story favoring moderates or liberals, you know it’s true. They tend to be slow to publish stories that show Trump in a negative light.

    New York Times: Very grounded, but written with a liberal slant. There’s great journalism here, but like Fox, when a story favors the conservative, it tends to be when the facts are in their favor, AND the story is big.

    POLITICO: Pretty balanced in its news coverage with the exception of representing the political establishment (as a trade rag would be). So Trump coverage has been, but is increasingly less so, shocked and sensational. The zeitgeist has been accepted.

    USA Today: The rare moderate masthead, USA Today plays it in the middle, and reports when facts are available. A fair barometer for breaking news.

    Wall Street Journal: Similar to the New York Times, this paper is very grounded with great journalism, albeit a conservative slant. The conservatism on display here is that of big business, and as such it remains committed to facts, and will print a story favoring liberalism or anti-Trump if it is proven true or if it is pro-business. All political stories seem to be on delay here, a clear sign of careful vetting.

    Washington Post: Grounded, but not as much as the New York Times. It still has a penchant for running the sensational, and can’t resist a good Kelly-Anne Conway quote (yuck). I take their anti-Trump slant as a partisan view.

    As a result of broadening my spectrum, I do not trust CNN anymore. It’s pure junk. I also am not likely to trust Fox News and sadly, I don’t trust the Washington Post as much as I used to. In addition, if both the New York Times AND the Wall Street Journal agree on a story then it is almost certainly true.

    Low Quality Information Creates a Wild and Ignorant Society

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    The biggest take away from my informal experiment was the lack of integrity several of these outlets have when it comes to delivering “news” to their stakeholders. In the case of the more tabloid-esque outlets, it’s clear clicks and eyeballs matter more than the quality of journalism. They are purveyors of the sensational.

    Perhaps more disconcerting, these outlets are some of the most consumed news producers in the United States. The study does not include the less reputable outlets that spawned the fake news crisis debated so vigorously over the past two months.

    We have seen the results, and they are wild. Though people read and watch news online, because of their information sources, they remain ignorant. And worse, they are adamant about being informed.

    To date we’ve seen Facebook offer algorithmic promises at resolving the issue. But given the intrinsic desire of the human mind to fancy the sensational, will it be enough? I don’t think so.

    In the end, we must look at the root cause. And to overcome, we must come to know ourselves. We must educate ourselves to discern online information and then demand quality. Digital literacy is the answer, in my opinion, not algorithms to protect people from their own inability to understand information.

    What do you think?

    The Photographer’s Choice: Favorite and Unpublished #FYPx Shots

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    FYPx Influencers from Left to Right Mario Villaneuva, Victoria Ramos, Victoria Gonzales, Edgar Woo, Juan Flores, Jacob Fu, Faith Eve Bee, and Erin McGrady.

    Last September, I had the great pleasure of serving the National Park Foundation as a volunteer photographer for its Find Your Park Expedition (#FYPx) 2016. The trip featured eight super Instagram influencers, and fantastic National Parks and Historic Sites, including Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Alcatraz Island, Rosie the Riveter WII Home Front National Historic Park, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, and John Muir National Historic Site. It was an incredible way to be of service, especially during the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary!

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    F Market Castro

    My friend Joe Newman interviewed me about the assignment and what I thought of it. It was incredible to work with these influencers, and as I told Joe, “‘The National Park Service can tell you how awesome their parks are, and it sounds interesting. But when you witness this through a friend or a trusted contact’s online media, well now you are a believer.”

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    Mandatory Ranger Pointing Pic

    I have published some pics that would be most popular online, but not necessarily my favorite ones. So I thought I would add to the narrative by choosing my favorite pictures, particularly ones I have yet to publish. There are a few familiar ones, but generally these are brand new or have been seen in only one of my networks rather than across all of my properties.

    So with that, let’s go! And if you want Yosemite shots, just scroll to the end.

    Golden Gate Recreation Area (Including REI Bike Tour)

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    Golden Gate at Sunset (probably my best shot of the trip)

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    Hang Time

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    Walking a Thin Line

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    The Underbelly

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    Super Tanker

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    Hiding in the Shade

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    Palace of Fine Arts

     

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    Scale

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    Admiring the Architecture

    Alcatraz

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    Boat to Alcatraz

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    Tunnel Under Alcatraz

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    Sadness

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    Cell Block

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    Prison Factory

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    Ranger Walking

    San Francisco Maritime

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    Tugboat

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    To the Deck

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    Crates

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    Engine

    Rosie the Riveter

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    Rosie

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    A Surviving Rosie

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    Rosie the Silhouette

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    Rosie, the Facility

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    94-year old ranger Betty Reid Soskin

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    The View from Richmond

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    Photobombing

    Yosemite

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    El Capitan

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    Half Dome

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    Inspired

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    Vernal Falls

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    Four Mile Trail

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    A Place to Breath

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    Yosemite Valley

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    Channeling Ansel

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    The Majestic Lodge

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    Walking Amongst Giants

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    The Mist Trail

     

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    Playing Amongst the Stars.

    No Thank You, Trump America

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    It was quiet in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on election night.

    It saddens me to see so much racism and bigotry erupt within days of Donald Trump’s election. Even more disgusting is the way Washington insiders and business luminaries, people who fought so hard against Trump, have flip flopped and suddenly support his presidency, essentially ignoring the intense xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny we have witnessed over the past year. Of course, these people have political and business interests at stake.

    I do not. Even if I did have interests at stake, I would not sacrifice my principles and would continue to fight Trump.

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    A woman texts and clutches the fence separating the White House and Lafayette Park on election night.

    And yet Trumpers say, Give him a chance. We must come together and support him, they say. Worse, some are insistent that people should not protest.

    No thank you, Trump America.

    Though Trumpers keep trying to stymie public dissatisfaction with the election, more and more protests break out. And with good reason. Telling people to be silent and endure is the beginning of a fascist state. Silence the opposition, and force them to get in line.

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    No thank you, Trump America.

    I have experienced similar push back every time I have published a photo from election night or a protest photo depicting a scene that is not pro-Trump. The below photo received an extra amount of angst and misogyny on Instagram and in a private Facebook group. In other cases I have been trolled online by pro-Trumpers telling me to move to a different country, or shut up, or to read the bible, or some other form of bullying.

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    In all cases I have simply deleted their comments. This is not dialogue, this is more xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny. It borders on fascism and violates protesters’ civil rights.

    Not My President

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    A despondent woman outside of the White House on election night.

    This hateful orange buffoon now elected president is someone I must suffer. The acts of the people he has inspired are Deplorable. I will not give him an open mind because he has given me enough data to make a conclusive decision about his character. He is not my president.

    It is unfortunate that so many Americans felt this disenfranchised that they were desperate enough to take this risk on. Our political parties were so weak that they could not come together and meet our country’s needs.

    But Trump is a liar. He has lied about bringing back manufacturing jobs, building the wall, kicking out immigrants, and making fat cats like himself pay more taxes. Even if the Trump risk pays off — which it won’t — the impact on civil liberties will create a dark stain on America’s fiber for decades.

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    Protest in San Antonio.

    After all of Donald Trump’s behavior and deceitful acts over the past year, and continuing lies and backtracking, he needs to earn my respect, not the other way around. His election has destroyed the prestige of the Presidency. Until he behaves his way into a more mindful and respectful disposition for a significant period of time, I will continue to assess Trump as a dangerous narcissist that hoodwinked America.

    At the same time, he will be in power for four years. It is what it is. My best recourse is to fight for the protection of civil liberties, and continue to actively seek new and better politicians than what either party is currently offering.

    We Must Be Vigilant

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    San Antonio protesters.

    When George W. Bush won the oval office there was unease in Washington, but things settled in relatively quickly. Then 9-11 hit, and the rest was history. By the time Iraq occurred any pushback against W. was labelled as Un-American, Liberal, or Un-Patriotic. Eventually people became outspoken in spite of W.

    Donald Trump and his presidency do not deserve the opportunity that W. got. I have seen more swastikas in the past week than I have in the past decade. I have seen more reports of hate crimes in the past week than I have in the past year, and that’s in spite of Trump’s caustic presidential campaign and the many reports of police violence against African Americans.

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    Protest in front of the White House on election night.

    Islamic Americans are wondering if it is their turn to flee. Mexican Americans — some who have been here for generations — and other Latin American immigrants — legal and illegal — fear the potential impact on their lives. Women wonder if they will have to fight off pimply white males assaulting them. On and on it goes. It is time to stand up to hate crime at every opportunity.

    Trump and that small group of supporters who are using this election as an endorsement of xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny cannot be given mulligan after mulligan. We will lose everything that makes America free and inclusive if we allow that to happen.

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    Two men waiting for a Hillary party that never happened in front of the White House.

    A word of caution to those who disagree with Trump: We cannot fight hate with hate. Violence destroys the message. Protestors have invoked the swastika as a method of protesting against Trump. I have been the subject of persecution in my past. My relatives in Europe flee-ed the Nazi threat. This is not a casual reference. In fact, it is a hurtful one, one that inspires as much fear and hate in protest as it seeks to combat. The more mindful we can be about our use of symbolism, the more impactful our message will be.

    We must say no, we must raise our voice, but we have to take on the principles of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Peaceful protest is the way. We cannot hurt others to save ourselves. This is something that we must repeat over and over again. Civil disobedience must invoke peaceful change.

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    Protest in San Antonio.

    Given the amount of vitriol I have already received from hateful pro-Trump supporters, I have closed comments on this blog post. Please continue the conversation with me on social networks.

    Street Pics for the ADWKDC 2016 Trespass Campaign

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    The Georgetowner

    I had the great fortune of serving AAF-DC as photographer for their ADWKDC 2016 campaign, themed Trespass. Above and below are my favorite shots from each frame that I submitted. I affectionately call the set “the Georgetowners” as the photos were all shot in Georgetown, where I went to graduate school.

    If you haven’t registered for ADWKDC 2016 yet, definitely consider doing so. It’s a fantastic celebration of Washington’s advertising community. There are dozens of events, culminating with a two day conference filled with speakers sharing their best practices. If you want to learn more visit the site, or check out this five reasons to attend blog post.

    Special thanks to Julia Sarver, Creative Director at Merritt Group and Josh Belhumeur, partner at BRINK for selecting me to work on this campaign.

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    Glamour Walk

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    Chatting on the Bridge

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    Early Runner

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    Selfie City

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    Man’s Best Friend

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    The New Commute

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    Happy Hour