The Magic of Don: How He Hides His Crimes Out In The Open

Did Donny the Dangler employ a brilliant communications strategy to win the White House? According to Roger L. Martin, a business professor at the University of Toronto, he did, and the sooner we understand how it works, the more effectively we can combat him.

What he was doing was creating with precise and relentless consistency an entirely new category in the minds of voters: the politically incorrect candidate. He has since monopolized that new category.

By creating the new category and playing his role to the max, the audience became riveted and eventually moved to support the anti-candidate. The logic Democrats tried to use that you would not hire a bus driver to fly a plane, ultimately wasn’t the kind of logic enough Americans were willing to buy. Is it because Americans are dumb-asses? It is all too easy to see it that way, but the good professor warns against it.

Clinton ran an exceedingly competent campaign, with lots of experienced managers, an abundance of planning, high levels of investment, and careful attention to best practices. However, the strategy was underwhelming. She sold customers what she desired them to want: a product that was compelling to her and her management team.

This is such an astute reading of the 2016 election. Russian hacking didn’t rob Hillary of the White House. She lost in a contest with rules that she didn’t fully understand. She kept insisting, as Democrats do, that better policies matter most. Of course, they do matter in the day-to-day reality of governing. But running for office is not governing. Running for office is a battle for attention, adoration, and ultimately long-term brand preference.

I don’t blame Hillary for not wanting to see herself as a product. No one wants to degrade their own humanity in order to win, except the demagogue who did just that to win. Lessons learned. Now what do we do to expedite the impeachment of the ass clown in charge? What strategy do we the people employ to fight the growth of fascism in our own land? Number one, STOP listening to what he says or Tweets. When literally every word he utters is calculated to distract, it’s time to turn away from the noise of Don and the talking heads altogether. Instead, we must watch what he does, and organize our resistance there. The longer we focus on his or anyone’s personality, the less room we make for the issues.

Don can talk shit all day and he does. Who cares? The issues that I care about are on the line: civil rights, gun control, healthcare, the environment, the economy, and the constant drumbeats of both terror and war. I don’t have time to hear what he or his minions have to say on matters. They are corrupt, anti-American and blind to the needs of our modern society. It’s good to understand the other side’s wants in any conflict, but what do you do once you comprehend that their wants are outrageous and dangerous? Do you listen and try to find common ground? Or do you go out and organize the people of this nation into an informed and motivated force for freedom?

Keep Following The Money

Keep Following The Money

Democrats and other concerned Americans are now asking, “How did we fall this far this fast?” My counter is we didn’t all of a sudden arrive at the gates of kleptocracy. It’s been a slow drip of corporate and government malfeasance ever since Nixon lied about Vietnam, Watergate and everything else. Yet, it is true that we’ve never seen such blatant disregard for the rule of law by the executive branch of the federal government before, and it’s 12 days before Trumplethinskin takes the oath of office.

Let’s look at Don’s many ties to Russia—all financial. TIME last August published a piece that lays it out, plain as day:

It’s true that Trump has failed to land a business venture inside Russia. But the real truth is that, as major banks in America stopped lending him money following his many bankruptcies, the Trump organization was forced to seek financial backing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests in ways that have raised eyebrows.

Now, The Wall St. Journal is reporting that Don’s businesses owe more than $1 billion to 150 different entities. This does NOT include “off the books” deals with Russian oligarchs. It could be that he owes them much more.

Don’s need for personal financial gain above all else, including country, is about to cost us all dearly. Putin owns this guy, and yet many on the right continue to support him, instead of the sitting POTUS and our intelligence officers. Political, economic, and cultural divisiveness has taken us to the edge of a new cliff.

As the nation teeters, and the media pundits scramble to decode another Tweet from Don, his team of political hacks are busy creating havoc and ascending to the highest offices in the land. One of the top hacks in the room is Jared Kushner, Don’s son-in-law, and fellow real estate rich guy. The New York Times just exposed his significant business dealings and conflicts of interest.

The Kushner family business has participated in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions in the last decade, many of them backed by opaque foreign money. In all, the company owns more than 20,000 apartments and approximately 14 million square feet of office space, including the building that houses the Midwest headquarters of AT&T and the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ headquarters in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In what could be an interesting case of familial foreshadowing, Jared’s dad, Charles, was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations in 2005. Real estate in New York is a tough business. Developers are often short of the cash they need. Enter the Russian and Chinese investors who are flooding their freshly minted monies into the United States, particularly into real estate. They have been buying our land, our buildings, and our companies at an alarming pace for many years. Now they’re buying the federal government too, and we the people are left to watch the country get stripped for parts.

This is not about left and right, it’s about right and wrong. This is a brutal class war between global elites (not coastal elites) and everyone else. Look around you and see who owns what. Chinese investors are swarming all over the Portland real estate market, for one, and the market here is now hugely over-priced. It’s not just commercial real estate that they’re buying. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, U.S. home sales to Chinese nationals totaled $27.3 billion last year. Our desire to make more money at all costs and support a lifestyle that can not be sustained is our great weakness as a nation.

Previously: Follow The Money

Don’t Get Trapped In Bad Media Habits

I gave myself the gift of digital detox and no TV news for Christmas. After one week, I feel better already.

Which begs the question, what am I doing with my head so far up the machine’s ass? Why are any of us willing victims to the manipulations of media? The obvious answer is we are human beings seeking information and connections via one of our many screens. The problem is we end up failing to enrich ourselves via this daily habit. We are degraded by an onslaught of bad news and Internet trolls. Consuming and sharing today’s crap news and toxic opinions mostly upsets and angers me. When I am angry I am no good to others, and only marginally good to myself. Anger is fuel, but fuel is explosive when left untreated.

We’ve left the information age behind. We are now in the disinformation age, and it ain’t pretty. Let’s use Tweets from Don as one example of the inane nature of today’s “news.” Why would I ever care what Don puts on Twitter? He uses the platform to bypass the press and to stoke his ego engine. There is no useful information in Don’s Tweet stream and no reason for anyone other than his sycophants to pay attention. Yet, what Don Tweets is fodder for the talking heads on TV. What a waste of airtime. If anyone does care about Don’s Tweets, they can simply visit his Twitter page.

As a member of the opposition, it is way too easy to obsess over political minutiae. Don does something wrong many times a day. Instead of reacting to all the slights and miscues, we can opt to skip past the daily distractions and focus on the big picture. The big picture means taking care of yourself, your family and friends, and your community first. Think of it like putting on your oxygen mask first, so you are able to assist others.

Media of all types seeks to evoke a reaction from its intended audience. To stay even and centered right now–a necessary state in order to help yourself and others–it is important to be aware of one’s media habits and behaviors. If you watch the news on TV and find yourself yelling at the screen, you have a common problem. If you find yourself inundated with trolls and haters, you have another all too common problem. Personally, I don’t want to give trolls an inch. I want to bash their puny little skulls together, but more violence isn’t going to help them learn anything new, and I will not be uplifted by the bashing.

We are being tested by an invisible teacher right now. Can we maintain grace and grow our compassion under intense pressure? I am confident we can, and that we can become stronger, better people in the process. One of the means to this important end is to clearly establish the proper media diet, moving forward. Each person has their own limits. One hour of TV news per night, for instance, is certainly better than three of four hours. Maybe your diet will include no TV news at all, and you will read (and subscribe to) only the best foreign and domestic press.

Digital Distortions of Epic Proportions

The commercial Internet has been “a thing” for just over two decades. It’s new technology with no official, or agreed upon, manual. Many people don’t know how to use this network of nodes; nor how it can be used to distract and mislead.

Media literacy is sorely needed in this country today, along with a much better sense of personal online security and an understanding of the cyber terrorism threats facing our society. So-called “black hat hackers” can attack many of our most important systems—banking, transportation, communications, even weapons systems—all brutal hacks that could cripple our economy and our ability to fight back.

Messing with our election is a more heinous crime than we realize, and we need to respond swiftly with punitive action. A show of digital force! It’s also high time that we more fully grasp why China, Russia, Iran and other states are working against us. We’ve been so focused on the terror threat from radical Islamists that the new arms race (for the world’s remaining natural resources, including water), that we’ve taken our eye off the global threats ball.

Don can pretend to “Make America Great Again” in his dreams. Meanwhile, strong actors on the global stage are licking their chops at how stupid, confused and vulnerable we appear to be at this juncture in time. Do you think leaders in China and Russia admire Don’s bluster or confuse it with strength? Don’t kid yourself. Don’s playing checkers while our enemies play chess.

To effectively guard against real harm, Americans of all political preferences better find a way to get on the same national security page, or things could get very bad before they get better. Don can skip all the intelligence briefings he wants. We the people can’t afford to be that willfully ignorant.

One idea to strengthen our digital defense is to make a greater investment in talent. The New York Daily News is suggesting a digital talent “draft.” The writer notes that brilliant techies go to work in corporate jobs for big money, which presents a recruiting obstacle for the federal government. How do we convince people to serve? I’m not sure we need a draft, although I like the option of public service for graduating high school students. At the rate we’re falling from grace and prominence, the need to serve is now self-evident.

Sadly, a blizzard of distractions is used by Don and his ilk to confuse and diffuse. Don will continue to Tweet nonsensical and insulting things and the media will continue to run with it as news, instead of explaining what these Tweets truly are—digital distractions purposefully placed there by an autocrat (obsessed by his Putin-like race for ill-gotten fortunes).

The longer we remain divided and dysfunctional, the weaker we become as a nation. We can get stronger as individuals by learning how media, including digital media, is being used against the interests of freedom. We can get stronger as a nation by removing blame for how this happened, and refocus now on how we save ourselves from disaster.

It won’t be a political effort that saves America. It will be a post-political coming to our senses. We live on one planet with limited resources that must be shared, or chaos and death reign. Lines between nations, between states, between parties, and between people are artificial constructs. There’s one planet, and one people living on it. For now.

Is The Republican Party Guilty of Treason?

Russia hacked the American election. The CIA knows, the Senate knows, the White House knows, and the press knows.

I wonder if any of it matters to Don’s followers. My guess is no, it doesn’t matter one iota. After all, these are people who think President Obama is a Muslim plant.

Thankfully, there are a limited number of Don supporters in this nation, and in the Republican Party. South Carolina Senator, Lindsay Graham said:

I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage. I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay the price.

The showdown is on, and Don’s hostile takeover of the GOP and the USA are now in jeopardy.

It’s time for the American people to know who is guilty of treason, and what the plan is for making these criminals and Russia pay.

Having said that, it is proper to note that Don’s Made-for-TV force shield has thus far been impenetrable.

  • Fraud didn’t matter.
  • Rape allegations and admitted groping didn’t matter.
  • Tax evasion didn’t matter.
  • Cheating contractors out of their earnings didn’t matter.
  • Zero governing experience didn’t matter.
  • Five bankruptcies didn’t matter.
  • Hate speech and bullying people of color didn’t matter.

One might conclude that nothing matters. Not even treason. That’s how far up this system’s ass many Americans have their head.

The truth is we the people can only see what we are willing to observe, and we can only understand what we choose to consider.

Follow The Money

The Koch brothers lost this Presidential election to the Mercer family, but they won plenty of House and Senate seats to make sure their bidding gets done.

The master puppeteers who pull all the strings behind the screen hold a truly dark view of America and the people in it. To see just how dark their worldview is, let’s take a look at the Koch’s holdings: Minerals. Oil. Coal. Chemicals. Beef. Wood. Not one of these product categories is sustainable.

The billionaires are in a race to the end. Their apocalyptic vision is that the Earth’s natural resources will be extracted and used by them, for gross profits, no matter what the damage is to the environment. This short-sightedness is only possible when the ultra-rich can successfully escape the global climate crisis. The thing with that is climate change can hit with alarming speed. Drought, fires, or an ice age can all sweep in and leave famine in its wake. Nevertheless, the players continue to make horrible bets with our collective future.

Do you see how the political drama is all about the battle over finite natural resources? Sure, you and I may care about gun control, our failing schools or reproductive rights. The billionaires care much more about controlling raw resources, and in their shitstem, “we the people” are mere “labor units.”

It is time to stop obsessing over Hillary and Don, Blue and Red states, Democrats and Republicans. The super rich versus everyone else is not binary. It’s a few powerful families against the rest of humanity. As long they keep us divided, they keep us conquered.

Understand Trump’s Take On ‘Citizen Kane’ And You Understand The Man

Donald Trump’s favorite film is Citizen Kane by Orson Welles. Don has good taste in films. Or so it seems.

Citizen Kane is about an all-powerful man (modeled in part on William Randolph Hearst) who owns a chain of newspapers. He lives in a gigantic tower safely removed from the masses that he purports to serve. One could make a superficial reading of the film and conclude that Kane is an American business hero worth emulating. Or one could see the film as an indictment of American culture and the ravages of capitalism.

Let’s hear from the filmmaker himself:

“Kane was an attack on the acquisitive society,” said Welles.

Which brings us to Don’s reading of the film. Does the President-elect see Kane as a sympathetic character? Is Kane someone he might model his own empire-building life upon? Or does Don see Kane as a tragic figure trapped in his lonely tower and driven mad by ambition and greed?

Welles said, “I do feel that a man like Kane is very close to farce and very close to parody, very close to burlesque.”

Don claims to be a smart guy, and he did graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. Maybe he is smarter than he appears to be on TV. I wonder, does Don see Kane or himself as a farce? There is no evidence of that he does, despite his successful career in “reality” TV.

There’s A Time For Campfire Songs; This Isn’t The Time

Don Trump the pussy grabber is President-Elect of the United States. How did this happen, and what do we do now?

My friend Charlie Quirk—an Aussie who works as a brand strategist in San Francisco—made a good post this morning dealing with the “How” question. Here’s an except:

Trump made concrete claims that are easy to understand. Politicians of both sides equivocate and use weasel words way too often. They obscure what needs to be clarified and confuse us needlessly. We can’t besmirch people who support Trump as knuckle draggers. He communicated clearly, dogmatically and very often untruthfully. But his clarity was the secret sauce here. Like Bill Clinton’s ‘it’s the economy stupid’ did so effectively in ’92. He used clarity to cut through and mobilize. He did it in an offensive, appalling, misogynistic way, but he did it. And that’s scary stuff.

Can we admit that Don had a better strategy to win? It was based on utter filth and lies, but he knew that truth didn’t matter to American voters. Being a TV star matters, and to be the star, you play your part. Don played it, and us, perfectly.

On the other side, Hillary’s people were out-of-touch and overconfident. They figured they could “go high when Don went low.” But that only works for the magical Obamas. This election was a knife fight. Sadly, the politically correct, hapless Dems decided to fold their weapons and rise above, instead of cutting him and the GOP on the hour with charges of fraud, rape, and total insanity. They played it safe and they lost.

During the debates, especially the first debate, I lost it because it was obvious to me that Hillary didn’t understand the rules of the new TV game. She thought she was in a debate because that’s the tradition. But it was never a debate in the classic sense.

The Dems didn’t want to admit that few in the viewing audience gave a crap about the right answer. We the people desire a character that makes bold claims and loud advances. Hillary couldn’t see herself as a character. Don lives inside a comic strip. Hillary also has too much intelligence and grace to get down in the slime pit with a mad dog, but there are times when the battle calls for this kind of decisive action. When you’re facing a fascist dictator wannabe for President, it is one of those times.

Moving forward, the Dems will need to rethink everything, including how they “walk their talk.” In today’s media-soaked faux reality, the messaging needs to cut through. When Joe Biden said he’d take Don out back, that’s the folky stuff that connects with people, in this case, men.

Disruption Can Be Good, But Distrust Is Poison.

We are one week from election day 2016. The American experiment appears to be teetering on a precipice. While this is at once frightening and disturbing, I believe we’re living through a necessary disturbance in the system. Binary systems are breaking down. Industries are being disrupted left and right. Politics is no exception to radical disruption, in fact, the two-party lock hold on our democracy is more than ripe for fundamental change.

The democracy we believe in is actually an oligarchy, and it has been from the inception. At the time of the nation’s birth, democracy meant democracy for white land-owning men only. Black men could not vote until the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed on February 3, 1870. American women of all races and economic classes were not given the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed on June 4, 1919. The historical trend has been toward equal rights for all. We placed this high ideal in our nation’s founding documents, and we’ve been flexible enough to update the meaning from generation to generation.

Today, there’s a darkening cloud over our land, and a push to reverse the liberalization of core American ideals. The tension is creating a new level of ugliness on the ground and in our media reflections of self. There are reasons to be alarmed when neighbor turns on neighbor and friend on friend. According to Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans agree that supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump not only disagree over plans and policies but also disagree on “basic facts.”

The reason we can’t agree on basic facts anymore is news media has been blown to bits by cable and again by the internet. As of early 2016, just two-in-ten U.S. adults often get news from print newspapers. This has fallen from 27% in 2013. I wonder what the stats are for Americans who get their news from The Guardian?

Should the worst happen and HRC lose this election, there will be hell to pay and it will be easy to find fault. Her campaign team has limited her ability to speak forcefully on her own behalf. “When they go low, we go high,” may be the pitch-perfect tone for the Obamas. It’s far from the ideal stance for Hillary and Bill Clinton. Hill and Bill need to be themselves and tear political flesh. By the way, where in the hell is Bill Clinton right now? Is he locked away in a room? I understand that this is Hillary’s campaign and her team wants it to be all about her, not him. But “the him” in this case is the former President of the United States and one hell of a campaigner.

Why are the Dems missing the mark? Is it because “we the people” can’t tolerate a bossy woman who tells it like it is? The Dems are risking victory by muzzling Hillary and hiding Bill. This is a stupid strategy. We need bold leaders who take the wheel and steer the ship safely into harbor. It’s time to see Hillary as someone who takes charge, not as the policy wonk with bad email habits.

Whatever happens next Tuesday, disruptive change is here to stay. The nation is crying out for new energy and a renewed focus on the common good. We can argue about how to achieve it, but we can’t waste time debating whether the common good is a good thing. If you don’t believe that it is, you’re anti-American and anti-democratic. You’re also deeply deluded. The world doesn’t revolve around America, any one political party, or you. As President Obama likes to remind us…democracy is messy and it takes a team dedicated to common principles. I am confident that people from all walks of life can agree that every American wants to enjoy freedom and prosperity. Let’s stick with that for now, and find a way to work together.

The Don Wants Free Americans Under His Under-Sized Thumb

It pains me to admit that Donald Trump, a.k.a. The Don, knows more about the inner workings of today’s monolithic media companies than his opponent. But he does. From experience, he knows that big media favors entertainment over news and sensationalism over facts.

Media companies make more money by feeding us hollow celebrity-driven mind-candy than they do breaking down difficult topics of worldwide importance. We can fault them for their lack of honest coverage, or we can accept that all companies operate in a market environment, including CNN, Fox, NBC and the rest. If you want real news you will need to seek it out from independent global sources, which requires time, some skills and serious effort.

Americans are busy working on their masterpiece, whether that means raising a family, creating a company from scratch or applying paint to a canvas. We are busy and many of us are self-absorbed to a point of recklessness. In other words, the conditions on the ground are tenuous.

Who will win Ohio, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other battleground states? Who will win the popular vote?

We are currently looking at a classic contest that pits policy versus personality. In one corner we have the hard working policy wonk, in the other corner a circus ringmaster. It’s the most awkward political competition of modern times. Those of us who like to read and think are voting for Hillary Clinton. The question is: “Are there more of us than them?” This is a scary question. Nearly half of college graduates never read another book following graduation, and we are in the midst of the greatest “dumbing down” our nation has ever seen. Are we dumb enough to elect a white nationalist, male chauvinist pig to the highest office in the land? No thinking person wants to say yes.

During the first debate last Monday night, The Don tried to paint Hillary as someone who needs $100 million in Madison Avenue wizardry to get her message across, whereas he just needs an open mic and a willing camera crew. I despise The Don, but he scores points with people because of his simple-minded answers, very much like “W” did before him. Take the debate discussion about Chicago and gun violence. The Don was successful in painting Obama’s city as totally lawless. When it was Hillary’s turn to counter on this point, she could have ripped the NRA and gun makers a new one, but she did not.

Overall, her presentation lacked passion. She could have hit him hard. Instead, she was coached to remain calm—precisely because she is a woman and her voice may sound shrill when she’s agitated—but how calm can she or anyone remain under the circumstances? It was just 16 years ago that the sitting Vice President won the popular vote, but lost the election, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Florida malfeasance. Now here we are again with two unpopular candidates, a complicit media and a nation fully doped on the TV narcotic. I want to believe that America is the land of the free, but no one will be free under fascist rule.

I don’t overstate the case, despite its dramatic nature. For one, our economic viability is dependent on stable markets, which is delivered by the steady hands of wise leaders. If The Don wins, the global economy will spin into turmoil overnight. Before he would even be sworn in, the economy will have flown from the precarious cliff upon which it rests. The Don is also facing his Trump University fraud trial in late November. I believe he will be convicted in this case, no matter what happens on November 8. If he wins the White House, we may have a convicted felon preparing to take office and an economy in total shambles.

It’s a bleak picture of an America that no one wants to see, but we do need to imagine it. Germans laughed at the idiot Hitler. Then their economy collapsed and he rose to power. To say we are playing with matches by allowing a Hitler-like candidate to ascend to power is putting things much too mildly. We’ve gone bat-shit crazy as a nation. I don’t want to blame any one faction for this, I just want common sense to reign. We are all in this together, and we better get busy pulling our collective heads out of our asses before it’s too late.