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.

    No Thank You, Trump America

    30884353355_54f55ff333_k
    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.

    30785175921_5008ee6aef_k
    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.

    25292738489_5c7ee3b405_k

    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.

    30934645205_ff85949de9_k

    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

    30241648654_6cdff7b1b6_k
    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.

    not-my-president-small
    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

    30818229112_3d30fd7b62_k
    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.

    we-are-better-than-bigotry-small
    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.

    30241648154_61e5d2cf1f_k
    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.

    love-always-trumps-hate-small
    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.

    Occupy Wall Street – Groundswell of Economic Injustice

    Occupy Wall Street
    Image by Kap Kap

    The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread across the country, capturing the hearts of America’s disenfranchised. These events have sparked a debate across America — particularly online — about economic injustice in America.

    Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of primary objective and message. Like it or not, pundits and critiques are dealing with a groundswell of anger towards the rich and corporate America. This effort grows stronger with each week in spite of criticism.

    Occupy
    Image from Mother Jones

    The moniker of economic injustice is being used loosely, but in a recession or depression or jobless recovery (take your pick) entering its fourth year, a movement has been touched off. Like the 18th century French mob arisen in times of famine, Occupy Wall Street demands attention.

    The media ignored this movement at first. The government — local, state and most importantly, national — is for the most part still ignoring it. President Obama finally acknowledged the movement in a half-hearted statement on Thursday touting the financial industry’s strength. Yet Occupy Wall Street does not go away.

    This is mostly because of the relentless will of the original New York protestors, and now their counterparts in other cities. They are not satisfied with the economic disparity and conditions in this country, and won’t be turned back by criticism, insults, police violence and platitudes.

    CEOPay

    And yes, the protestors have used blogs, Flickr photos, and social network posts helped to keep Occupy Wall Street alive. Yet another example of the Fifth Estate rising when traditional power and media structures refused to address news and/or problems.

    Though dismissed, an opportunity is being missed with Occupy Wall Street. Nonprofits seeking to resolve issues of poverty and financial inequality should be leading the charge. Democrats who would naturally gravitate towards this series of issues — especially given tax debates of late — are avoiding Occupy Wall Street. Violence has tuned up the issue to new levels.

    The end result? More steam with bigger and more widespread protests.

    Money

    Conservative “anti-capitalism, socialist” spin isn’t going to make this one go away. Like the Arab Spring, like the Tea Party, like the angered Greeks, there is too much pain. No communications plan can fly in the face of a stakeholder groundswell centered on real problems. Occupy Wall Street is shaping the national debate.

    What do you think about Occupy Wall Street?

    Only Mindful Action Can Help the Gulf

    force-mp-gandhi and crowd.jpg

    There have been many acts of anger towards BP over the past week, including protests to seize the company’s assets, using apps to create oil spills on browsers viewing stories mentioning BP, and efforts to tarnish the company’s logo. It’s totally understandable. Punishing this company for its clear and continuing wrongs relieves a very human need.

    Yet, such acts fail to help the Gulf marine environment, suffering wildlife, and the many fisherman and local businesses getting decimated by the Deep Horizon catastrophe. Only mindful actions and protests can successfully and positively benefit those people that need us the most.

    One of the greatest heroes of all time — Mohandas Ghandi — demonstrated that you can topple an empire by taking spiritually grounded mindful political action. It seems paramount to remember Ghandi’s lessons as we move through this crisis.

    What Actually Helps

    Seizing BP’s assets strikes me as the exact wrong thing to do. The company needs to remain viable so it can actually pay for the reparations it owes.

    Further, as a moderate Democrat it’s been easy to laugh at cries from extreme elements about a socialist administration. That’s because it’s clear that these elements possess a great ignorance about what socialism and Marxism actually are. But a government seizing a company’s assets meets the text book definition of socialization. That kind of action will not benefit anyone, in my opinion. The U.S. government can’t effectively regulate the oil industry much less run an oil company.

    BP (as well as Haliburton and Transocean) must be held accountable. I totally agree with this logic. But the situation remains more complicated. As this New York Times article demonstrates, the Obama Administration — specifically MMS — had many missteps that enabled the poor infrastructure that caused the oil well failure and ensuing catastrophe. Further, the oil industry regularly causes these types of incidents in other, less modernized parts of the world frequently!

    Protests against the Obama Administration’s questionable relationship with BP and shoddy first five weeks of Deep Horizon oversight have yielded results. Witness President Obama’s remarks on Friday: “”What I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and spending that kind of money on TV advertising, that they’re nickel and diming fishermen or small business owners here in the Gulf who are having a hard time.” As BP’s behavior and PR machine demonstrates, this oversight will continue to be needed, and that means citizens need to keep the pressure on both BP and the Obama Administration.

    From a governmental reform standpoint, protesting further off shore drilling helps the environment. Demanding that elected officials run clean campaigns that disclose or eliminate corporate funding — effectively getting special interests like the oil lobby out of government — helps. Writing Senators to ask for a progressive clean energy oriented Climate Bill helps.

    From an action standpoint, there have been a variety of organizations that have assembled volunteer efforts, from their action from afar via computer to on-site action. Here are three articles to consider:

    Whatever you decide to do, please be mindful. Remember Gandhi’s lessons. Ask yourself does it help the Gulf and those affected? Does it improve the government or industry so it doesn’t happen again? Will it help the environment?

    Also see Jennifer Windrum’s How You Can Truly Help the Gulf Now.