Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In the Aftermath of Orlando

by Nomad

End of the Free Ride: 19 Questions the Mainstream Media Should Have Been Asking Donald Trump

by Nomad

Donald Trump's celebrity status has allowed him to say just about anything he wants without much scrutiny by the word-bite-hungry news corporations. Isn't it time- past time- that the free ride stop? After all, this isn't a reality TV audition. 

The news media has come under a lot of fire for journalistic malpractice when it came to Donald Trump. In March, Nick Kristof, a New York Times columnist wrote a piece on that subject called “My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump.” He accused the mainstream media of giving Trump undeserved free coverage while somehow skipping over the candidate's obvious shortcomings. 
Our first big failing was that television in particular handed Trump the microphone without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background, in a craven symbiosis that boosted audiences for both.
The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.”

It was in some ways a double standard too. During the primaries, other candidates were held to a much higher standard, meaning they were obligated to be sane and provide sensible replied to often difficult questions.
For Trump, it was a completely different story from the moment he first stepped onto the stage. No claim was too outrageous for the news media to treat as rational. Trump was allowed to talk about what he wanted to talk about, the way he wanted to talk about it. And news reporters appeared to be happy to allow him to mutter whatever nonsense that popped into his head.

This trend didn't start with Trump.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trump University Playbook Reveals the Manipulative Techniques Trump Used to Bilk Consumers

by Nomad

Unsealed documents from Trump University reveal some of the sophisticated techniques the recruiters used to break down prospective students' resistance. Many of them paid a very heavy price for their trust in Trump and his university.

One of the documents I stumbled across was the 48-page sales manual for the university (PDF embedded below). After a quick glance at the material, it is not a surprise that Republican candidate Trump would be plenty peeved that the federal judge allowed it to be released to the public. 
The manual- Exhibit D in the trial- does not paint a very flattering portrait of the operation nor the man behind it. 

Overall, the university playbook sounds nothing like an educational institution and much more like a high-pressure telemarketing sales campaign. That is confirmed by insiders who witnessed the operations for themselves. 
Said one top university official in her testimony:
In my experience, the focus of Trump University was on making sales rather than providing quality educational services. Trump university would lure consumers into the initial free course based upon the name and reputation of Donald Trump, and then, once they were there, Trump Univeristy personnel would try to up-sell consumers to the next course using high pressure sales tactics. Far from providing a "complete real estate education," as advertised, Trump University only provided enough information to get students to sign up for the next seminar or program.
That claim is supported by the sales manual and, importantly, that manual was not the work of some underling in the organization. 
According to depositions by former Trump University staffers, Trump personally approved of many of the ads and may have been integrally involved in crafting some of the "deceitful scripts that school reps used to con prospective students."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fortress Russia: What Lessons Can We Learn from Putin's Campaign to Destroy Independent Media?

by Nomad

Russian President Putin's assault on the independent media in his country has been an undeniable triumph. And it took only five years. In fact, the Russian leader's success represents just part of a worldwide trend to convert the media into a tool of the state or of special interests. 

Putin's Subjugation of a Free Media

In the US, people might complain in exasperation about the media, its negligence, and incompetence and its willingness to cozy up to Corporate America. 
The fact that Donald Trump has been allowed to get this far without any serious examination of the man's character- indeed, his sanity- is an indication that it's not imaginary.    

There are legitimate reasons to complain about the sorry state of journalism. True or not, such carping also requires us to put a few things into proper perspective. 

Compared to other countries like China and Russia, (and even one of our NATO allies) the freedom of America's media is still something a lot of countries can only dream of.  
In those countries, Facebook comments are routinely monitored, tweets are selectively censored and woe to you, if your humble Instagram remark should attract the attention of an over-zealous government prosecutor. 

President Vladimir Putin once compared journalism to intelligence work, his former specialty when he was a KGB officer. He remarked:
Journalism, as concerns collecting information, differs little if at all from intelligence work. In my judgment, a journalist's job is very interesting.
It's a very enlightening quote if you think about it. In making the comparison, Putin ignores one of the main principles of a free press, and its most important feature, its independence from the state. 
Intelligence work is very different than journalism in that it does not work for the state. Unlike intelligence work, the information that journalists find becomes a public resource, freely available to citizens who care about discriminating the true from the false. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Republican Scammer: Here's the Real Reason Why Donald Trump is Talking About Putting Clinton in Jail

by Nomad

The Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump came out swinging wildly in every direction last week. His comments about a federal judge and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton raised a lot of eyebrows, even Republican eyebrows.
Could an investigation in a fraud case involving the defunct Trump University may be one of the reasons for his unhinged threats and verbal attacks?

Just the other day, Trump told his supporters at a rally in San Jose, California that if he is elected he suggested that he would direct his attorney general to investigate her if Clinton is not indicted over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state email use.
The Republican nominee-to-be has not only decided to play the role of prosecutor but of judge as well. The crowd cheered as he said:
"Folks, honestly, she's guilty as hell."
Of course, a speech isn't an interview so nobody in the media- if they had cared to- could ask Trump exactly what crime she was actually guilty of.
"I will say this, Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail."
 He also added:
"Five years' statute of limitations, if I win. Everything is going to be fair but I'm sure the attorney general will take a very good look at it."
The threat to imprison political rival whom Trump sees as an obstacle to his ambition should be taken very serious as an indicator of what kind of president Donald Trump would make.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Donald Trump and the Long and Winding Road of Republican Stupidity

by Nomad

Republican Party's stupidity didn't begin with Donald Trump. The only question is: how did the GOP become the party of the half-wits?

In a  recent column, Bob Burnett, writing for The Berkeley Daily Planet, tackles the question a lot of people have been asking.

How exactly did the Republican Party get to be so darned stupid?

Even though the word "stupid" is both a highly-charged and subjective word, Burnett presumably isn't merely trying to insult anybody. However, if a political party can find a way to rationalize nominating a person like Donald Trump, somebody should be asking a lot of difficult questions like that.

Burnett notes that according to a Public Policy Polling survey, a majority of Trump supporters (66%) think that Obama is a Muslim. More than half believe the president wasn't born in the US. Never mind the birth certificates and the birth announcements, Damn the evidence, say the birthers.

One could write that off easily enough as some kind of particular mental deficiency of a particular group. However, there was more astounding news. 
It wasn't just Trump supporters. More than half of all Republicans (54%) also think Obama- despite all of the evidence to the contrary- is a Muslim.