Friday, November 11, 2016

What Will a New Trump Administration Mean For K-12 Education?






As the reality of the Trump election sinks in many are now somewhat wearily reflecting on how various parts of Trump’s policies would  affect their world. In my world of K-12 education policy there is a potential for some quite dramatic change so it maybe worth spending a few moments contemplating how a Trump presidency may affect our lives as educators if only to distract us from some of the more sordid elements of this bitter election season.

Three themes seem likely to l take center stage when it comes to Trump’s views on education. A sector that he chose not to focus on very much during the campaign, preferring instead to rail against unfair trade deals and ill advised wars. From his campaign literature however it is possible to discern at least three goals that will likely drive the agenda.

  1. Downsizing if not eliminating the US Department of Education.
  2. Promoting school choice and charter schools.
  3. Reducing the federal role in all areas particularly in relation to promoting education equity


Let’s take each one in order. The US Department of Education one of the newest agencies has been the subject of constant right wing vitriol ever since President Jimmy Carter created it in 1979 Reagan vowed to abolish it and was prevented by the irony of appointing an education secretary who was curiously interested in keeping his job and commissioned a panel to write  the A Nation At Risk report that linked our educational performance to our economy and defense in ways that resonated in the halls of Congress and most critically the business community, The report’s unexpectedly warm reception squashed all talk of dismantling the department vital to monitoring progress towards widely agreed upon goals and objectives. Lightening may well not strike twice but we should remember that Senator Lamar Alexander is Chair of the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee (HELP) and as a former Secretary of Education has shown no indication that he wants to reduce his Committee’s jurisdiction over the newly minted ESSA which he did more than most to help craft. There is no large part of the Trump coalition howling for the relatively small bureaucracy to be dismantled and plenty in the business community who would sooner have the fight be about abolishing the hated EPA. Moreover, if Trump does move to abolish the Department he would be wasting a lot of his limited political capital on confronting not just the teacher unions (a core part of the democratic coalition) but a good segment of state and local government that relies on federal grants and expertise at a time when education budgets have been shrinking. What is more likely to happen is that the Department’s budget for staff and for what might be considered non core programs such as after school, adult education, special education will be cut to pay for the new school choice and charter schools initiatives that will signal  that Trump has brought change to Washington.

Trump’s major agenda is his stated intention that he wants to add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. That is a large sum and since it is a concrete figure you can probably place more trust that he will in fact deliver. Since the charter school movement emerged some 25 years ago there has been a strong steady increase in the numbers of charters in the US and they now educate six percent of the students in this country. But the dramatic  growth of publically funded charters in particular has not come without controversy as teacher unions and a variety of education groups complain about reverse segregation and lower standards. The ballot referendum to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts was defeated Trump promises to boost charter schools goes along with his belief that both parties have been far too accepting of the status quo in the American big cities. The new billions will be  reprioritizing existing federal dollars which as mentioned above is likely to come out of the hide of the budget for the historically forgotten groups that attracted the federal interest in the first place.  Politically this will be a much harder fight to overcome-first because democrats remain split on the issue as to whether charter schools may well be the tonic needed to shake up hundreds if not thousands of underperforming schools whose monopolies continue to go unchallenged and second because there may well be no need for new legislation. There are plenty of authorities in current legislation that would allow the reprogramming of these funds for charter schools, but there is every reason to believe that they would be able to pass even broader legislation in the first 100 days that would link this program to a broader anti poverty initiative that would (as the campaign literature sets out)  invite each state to “contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars” which someone in the Trump backroom works out to be , “$12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.” No one at this point though can really say for sure how this initiative will end up looking once the various lobbying communities on both sides of the issue have had their say and then the bills get digested and eventually spat out by the relevant congressional committees.

Finally, as mentioned,  we are likely to see a new Trump administration oversee a  massive role back on the federal role when it comes to preserving educational equity for all kinds of populations not least African American, hispanic and special needs students. Currently there is a fight between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers over the intent of the ESSA language related to the need for Title One to supplement not supplant state dollars for special populations. The GOP wants to insist that states and locals can use their federal dollars however they want and so if they decide they do not want to spend the funds they were allocating to poor schools they no longer have to because the federal dollars can make up the difference. Today it is much clearer that poor schools under a Trump administration will stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in potential funding.

So we end up with a rather dismal picture for the federal role in education as we have known it. It looks now like the recent battles in Congress that led to the long awaited passage of the landmark Elementary and Secondary School Act now renamed the Every Child Succeed Act was a herald for a large retreat from the former federal role as the funds were virtually block granted to the states with limited amounts of controls and oversight. Gary Orfield the noted civil rights historian claimed the new law stripped the federal funding of its "leverage for any national purpose." Under a new Trump administration we can expect more of the same. But as one wise saw said who helped me survive the Reagan administration as a House Democratic staffer on the brunt end of his similar “drain the swamp” anti Washington rhetoric, "there are no permanent defeats or permanent victories.". What we have in this country is a democracy still expressed in the three branches of government as well as a free press and an active advocacy community.

But to make it all work and to achieve any kind of progress we have to participate! We have to learn from the past and make the best arguments we can based on values and reason as well as reliable data and research based evidence. We also need to listen to those of others,  and be prepared to engage with them as we all in good faith try to seek common ground.  That is what "no permanent victories and defeats" I have come to view is all about--we are all part of the same learning community on the same journey to strive to create a more perfect union.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why Trump Won






There were plenty of reasons to point fingers at some factors in this election that might help explain the Trump victory


  • The Comey "October surprise" that for nine days kept the shadow of a potential criminal investigation over Clinton’s head

  • The media’s relentless focus on the emails that had no real information to reveal but kept the pundits focused on her trustworthiness as they parsed her answers to the FBI and the numerous investigative committees and treated Trumps’ personal behavior and history of scandals as non disqualifying. The media’s refusal to take apart Trump’s lunatic tax trade policies and focus people’s attention on the harm they would do for ordinary people’s pocket books.

  • The lack of any interviewer prepared to take on Trump and ask any follow up questions that identified the false premises and assumptions and his appalling ignorance of the world and public policy.


But all of these reasons pale in comparison to Hillary’s play it safe campaign lacked a clear message. Was she running for Obama’s third term? Did she have a plan to respond to the economic devastation following the great recession that hit the rust belt longer and harder than many in the media were prepared to recognize or acknowledge? How was she going to improve Obamacare or move to a green economy? It was not that she lacked policy ideas in these areas (there were enough policy briefs on her website to fill a bookshelf) but that she did not seem to want to prioritize any one of them or explain how and why they were important in simple non wonkish terms. Her husband tried with Obamacare but did so in a way that confused rather than enlightened. Although she won the debates she lost the argument as to what she wanted to achieve as President. It seemed she wanted to try working with people from both sides to achieve incremental change but that had been tried and failed. The GOP dominated congress was not interested in incremental change. Some in the GOP indeed were more interested in prosecuting her for alleged crimes and impeaching her than they were ever going to allow her to complete any kind of legislative agenda.

How was the electorate going to get excited about any of her ideas or if any of them appealed to them (raising the minimum wage for example) the prospect of more of the same gridlock that would lead to more hot air and nothing changing. Arguably this was the reason why many democrats stayed home and minorities did not vote in the overwhelming numbers that had led to Obama’s 2004 and 2008 victories. Although this argument that Trump was dangerously unqualified to become President won the popular vote it was not enough to bring out voters in the heartland who were desperate for some kind of change that would move them from the kind of minimum wage dead end jobs to a future where they or at least their children could dream the big American consumerist dream once again.

The Trump vote largely composed of these largely white males angry at elites came out in droves for someone their perceived would not sell them down the river by making trade deals that shifted good paying jobs either south or eastwards. The fact that these jobs had permanently left the US for a complex number of reasons due to changes in technology and more flexible global supply chains seemed to escape the media commentators. But this was an election not based on facts but on a sense of grievance that a future the white American workers left behind by globalization had been once promised and had been betrayed by the elites in Washington. Trump understood this sense of grievance more so than anyone else in the GOP and knew how to employ his brand of
aggressive macho posturing to appeal to them. Never mind that the grievance mixed in racism and misogyny, whipped up xenophobia and nationalistic emotions, they lapped it up. It seemed authentic and authenticity was something that allowed them bridge the wide gulf between the billionaire's lifestyle and their own. He was a regular guy even though he flew around in his own 727 and owned golf courses and hotels he was relatable because he shared their view about outsiders and their macho values that had conditioned them to objectify and demean women and feel superior to those of different races and religions.

Trump talked their language --it was the language of a TV talk show host --short blunt and not politically correct. Even though he was by all accounts a dishonest operator in his business and personal life his language appeared honest when compared to the political speak used by the Washington politicians.  It was the language of the outsider fueled by his anger that derived not from any of the genuine frustrations that ordinary people felt about their lives but due to a personal sense of hurt that somehow the educated and monied elites had too often snubbed him for his crassness.

What can we learn from all this? Looking back, Bernie Sanders had the clearer message that could have won the race.  His theme that the elite had engaged in unfair trade deals, that the banks should be broken up and that the bankers who caused the great recession should go to jail for their crimes was responsive to the mood of the country. It told a story, one which inspired millennials in debt to their eyeballs that they deserved a chance to move forward and were being held back by having to payback outrageous loans for college, when post secondary education should be a right available to everyone and was a good investment for the society to make in its future, a much wiser investment than the enormous sums spent on the Pentagon. Sanders was set to remake the democratic party so that it could really respond to the 21st century needs of a nation that needed to continue to invest in its future and not be so beholden to corporate interests. The centrist part of the democratic party believed that Sanders represented too much of a leftward shift and moved to stop him becoming the nominee. Hillary’s was not going to give up her fight to become the first female president of the United States and the party top brass who knew that the Clintons had more access to big donors than anyone else agreed to go along. It is speculative to assess whether Bernie could have won over the independents who would use the word "socialism" as some kind of taboo word  but it underlines the point that in a change election year --the times did demand an authentic change agent not someone who believed in incrementalism as a kind of therapy treatment for a dysfunctional congress.


Hillary turned out to be not the right candidate for the times. We must now all suffer the consequences and continue the work of rebuilding a democratic party responsive to the nations needs in a time of dramatic change.


Why Trump Won







There were plenty of reasons to point fingers at some factors in this election that might help explain the Trump victory


  • The Comey October surprise that for nine days kept the shadow of a potential criminal investigation over Clinton’s head


  • The media’s relentless focus on the emails that had no real information to reveal but kept the pundits focused on her trustworthiness as they parsed her answers to the FBI and the numerous investigative committees and treated Trumps’ personal behavior and history of scandals as non disqualifying. The media’s refusal to take apart Trump’s lunatic tax trade policies and focus people’s attention on the harm they would do for ordinary people’s pocket books.


  • The lack of any interviewer prepared to take on Trump and ask any follow up questions that identified the false premises and assumptions and his appalling ignorance of the world and public policy.


But all of these reasons pale in comparison to Hillary’s lackluster campaign that lacked a clear message. Was she running for Obama’s third term or would she respond to the economic angst,  faults in Obamacare and the growing power of Russia. It was the reason why many democrats stayed home and hispanics as well as African Americans did not vote in the overwhelming numbers that led to Obama’s victory.  She had no inspiring vision to offer other than a steady hand on the tiller and she was not Trump.

White males angry at elites who they perceived were ready to sell them down the river by making trade deals that shifted their jobs either south or eastwards were prepared to come out in droves responding to Trump's aggressive macho posturing that he would finally even the score against a world that had taken away their sense of an American future they could continue to dominate. It appealed to their sense of grievance that their futures and those of their children were being blocked by not just by NAFTA like deals but by unfettered immigration. The message resonated, Trump talked their language --it was the language of a TV talk show host --short blunt and not politically correct. Even though he was by all accounts a dishonest operator in his business and personal life his language appeared honest when compared to the political speak used by the Washington politicians.  It was the language of the outsider fueled by his anger that derived not from any of the genuine frustrations that ordinary people felt about their lives but due to a personal sense of hurt that somehow the educated and monied elites had too often snubbed him for his crassness.

What can we learn from all this? The democrats cannot be a collection of “boutique issues”- that included a fast changing social agenda--marriage equality, LGBT rights and drug reform.Looking back, Bernie Saunders had the clearer message that could have won the race.  He had the message responsive to the mood of the times-and he inspired millennials in debt to their eyeballs that they needed a chance to move forward by having college become affordable once again. He was set to remake the democratic party as being more anti-trade and for a single payer health care system. The centrist part of the democratic party believed that it was too much of a leftward shift and moved to stop him becoming the nominee. But it was considered by the party poh bahs that it was Hillary’s turn and she was not going to give up what she felt as her historic destiny to become the first female president of the United States. It is speculative to assess whether Bernie could have won over the independents who would use the word "socialism" as some kind of taboo word  but it underlines the point that in a change election year --the times demanded an authentic change agent and Hillary turned out to be not the right candidate for the times. We must now all suffer the consequences.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Friends Don't Allow Friends to Vote for Trump








As the polls tighten  and Trump, the least qualified and the most reprehensible candidate ever to run for president comes close to achieving an unthinkable result it is time for Hillary supporters to take a step back.  The country seems very roughly divided between college educated voters and the rest of us.  Without being elitist etc we all know a Trump voter. They are not deplorable they are just angry invariably white males who feel that the elites betrayed them and that they are now living in a world where they are steadily losing ground. It has been easy enough for Trump to convince them that the system is "rigged" against them by corrupt elites who are just interested in holding power while they give away the store in trade agreements that do them economic harm and sacrifice American interests. The latest bombshell from the FBI director James Comey has served to harden their belief that Hillary is the source of all that is evil in Washington and that at the email controversy is representative of how the system protects the self dealing corruption that  allows elites to control power and keep their voice from being heard. They see Trump as their ability to finally "throw the bums out" and their opportunity to have their their angry and hyper-nationalistic voice heard.

So what do you say to the likely Trump voter in the closing days and hours before they pull the lever for the worst possible candidate that has ever run for president?  The temptation to keep silent and not risk an angry confrontation should be resisted. We need to do everything we can in our power to prevent the most catastrophic outcome. So what can we do? My answer is to engage the Trump voter whether they be family members, friends, fellow workers etc. We need to do so in a friendly constructive manner however and in a way that neither condescends to them or puts them too much on the defensive. We need to figure out the right questions to ask, ones that allow them to examine the victim story that that Trump has been selling to them and to see that Trump is really out to victimize them some more rather than take them into any economic nirvana as suggested by his ridiculous slogan "Make America Great Again."  

Below are some conversational strategies you might try:
     
1. Seems like the race is tightening. You got any thoughts about the election?

A nice neutral opening. Trump supporters do feel freshly emboldened now to declare themselves and will probably say something like yeah, I am voting Trump, Hillary is really corrupt. Her FBI investigation means that we are just in for more trouble if she ever gets near the White House.

Your follow up:

Ever thought your radical hatred of Clinton was irrational and based on misogyny?

Trump supporters response would be not to recognize the jibe. They believe that Trump likes women and all that implies, but they go onto argue that Hillary is somehow different. That she has been guilty of a horrendous crime of abusing her security clearance and through her illicit use of power has somehow escaped justice. They go onto conclude that she deserves to go to lose or worse be further prosecuted and go to jail because of her reckless disregard for security matters.

Your response:

Have you ever thought there might be  a connection between the way that Trump supports sexually assaulting women and the way he demonizes Hillary?  You don't need to be Sigmund Freud to recognize the fact that he is terrified of strong women and what they represent to his male sense of privilege.  The criticism of Clinton is way over the top. Clinton did not use the correct email server as did one of her predecessors Colin Powell. She has taken her punishment for that mistake and admitted that was not a wise thing to have done. She has not been convicted of any crime and like Colin Powell had to pay a heavy price in terms of public humiliation. Are you sure that there is any equivalence between the multiple ways Trump has offended laws and decency and this lapse of judgment.  Or is that she is a woman and needs to be held to a higher standard? Reminder she did not break any laws. By voting for Trump who routinely demeans women and overlooking Clinton’s obvious abilities, competence, and achievements in helping people and children in need  you maybe a misogynist but you were afraid to admit it to yourself.

What makes you believe that Trump will make America great again?

Their response --he will negotiate better trade deals and protect American workers

Your response--do you think that his trade agreements will actually benefit American workers?
Do you honestly believe that Trump who has outsourced even the steel he uses to build his Trump hotels to China will protect American workers? Even if you believe that have you ever thought what his trade strategy would really mean to American consumers and how he will start a trade war that we can never win? His trade strategies though make no sense--as NPR exposed they will be counter productive.

“With China, Trump says he would impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.
Let’s consider what this would mean with a real-world example. Let’s say an American consumer goes out to buy a refrigerator from Mexico. For simplicity, let’s say that refrigerator normally costs $100. Under Trump’s plan, that refrigerator from Mexico would now cost 35 percent more, or $135. The thinking behind a tariff is that an American shopper would gravitate toward an American-made refrigerator selling for less. Here’s the problem: Mexico would certainly retaliate and levy tariffs on American products coming into Mexico. And then you have a possible trade war.”

Most economists agree that Trump’s policies are deeply flawed.

He is also against raising the minimum wage and has no interest in protecting American worker rights as he has banned unions and once complained that American wages are too high

Now you are into the conversation and have suggested that Trump’s accusations about Hillary are pitiful when compared to his ethical and moral failings, it would be worth probing some more why they think Trump is qualified to run for office given his background.
   
What makes you believe that on any planet and in any country someone like Trump a serial abuser of women,  the tax system, his contractors, veterans and war heroes and their families, the disabled, hispanics, muslims etc  etc etc could be fit for the highest office in the land? We also cannot by the way his record of routine lies and whoppers like the birther malarky.

Their answer--well he is a not a politician, he is a businessman and speaks his mind

Your response:

He has a mind that has not according to his ghost writer ever bothered to even read one book (except maybe for The Art of the Deal --a book he did not write). He has shown no interest in informing himself about the world situation, routinely pedals conspiracy theories and has not the slightest interest in apologizing for all the insulting things he has said. He also by the way routinely stiffs contractors who have worked for him and constructed a phony university whose one purpose was to try to lure seniors and the unemployed to part with the savings they could ill afford to lose in pursuit of a fake get rich scheme.

Why do you believe that Trump will “make America great again”? Do you seriously think someone whose main motivation in life seems to be proving he is number one and will vengefully go after anyone with the temerity to stand up to him has the right temperament to be a world leader with access to the nuclear codes?

Their answer--well he will make America strong again because other leaders seem to be making us appear less powerful as we lose ground in the Middle East.

Your answer --he knows nothing about the world and he has a dangerous tendency to bully people. He has no plan for the Middle East, for the Ukraine or for China. All he knows is that tough talk around supposedly unfair trade agreements win votes in the Mid West. Clinton is for stronger trade agreements and knows all the world leaders and is very aware of the menace of Putin and Assad than Trump will ever know. Meanwhile Trump wants to be Putin’s friend a like minded bully who likes to flatter other bullies.

Do you honestly believe that America and the world will be a safer place with Trump in charge?

Their answer: Can’t get any worse

Your answer-oh yes it can. Remember George W Bush who had some of the same vengeful macho temperament as Trump and started an illegal war with Iraq after 9/11,  a country that did not attack us and caused the deaths of over 5,000 American servicemen.  Trump is even more ignorant than dubya, don’t you think that you are playing with fire and catastrophe if you vote for Trump. As 122  Republican security experts have testified--he is unfit to be commander in chief--they state "His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence."

They also note he " is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation. "

Do you believe that Trump will heal rather than inflame racial tensions in the US?

Their answer: We must support our police officers asserting their authority even if that extends racial injustice.

Your answer : We know that  increased police training and community policing will help calm those cities that have experienced increased levels of violence and crime. Trump has no understanding of this issue. There is a reason why he has been endorsed by the KKK and far right groups. Do we want to revisit the ugly history of how racism divided and almost destroyed this country over the last century?

Please please engage your family member, neighbor, friend and colleagues and try to confront prejudice with facts and logic. This is the election of our lifetimes. Please make every effort not to make the historic mistake of electing Trump. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Media Has to Stop Enabling Trump!

According to the Oxford English Dictionary--a Mountebank is "an itinerant quack" and an "impudent pretender to skill a charlatan, one or resorts to degrading means to obtain notoriety" The word is derived from an Italian phrase ---and applies to anyone who  mounts a bench inorder to appeal to an audience through the use of showmanship and tricks.  Does this sound like anyone we know? OK Yes the GOP nominee Donald J Trump whose major trick was to get himself into the presidential stakes by claiming that Obama was not an American citizen and thus an illegitimate president. Today he went back on that claim and issued a statement without any reason or apology that President Obama was born in the US as if he now is the ultimate arbiter of who is and who is not an American citizen.  The sheer chutzpah,  the lack of shame or embarrassment that he has been fronting what became known as the birther movement should stop anyone in their tracks but Trump's consistent lies and lack of shame no longer is of much interest to the media. They consistently cover him as if he were a serious candidate --no one so far in the media (with the possible exception of Chris Mathews on the issue of abortion) has been able to ask any solid follow up questions of Trump. They have allowed one question on one topic, usually a soft ball one and allow his bluster to go unchallenged.

Take a look below of a typical interview. This was high stakes debate on the military -

LAUER: You said in the speech today, you said history shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is the greatest.
TRUMP: And we’re not prepared.

Why is that Mr Trump--we spend more on the military than the next nine major countries combined

LAUER: Will you be prepared on day one, if you’re elected president of the United States, to tackle these complex national security issues?
TRUMP: One hundred percent. Hey, Matt, again, she made a mistake on Libya. She made a terrible mistake on Libya. And the next thing, I mean, not only did she make the mistake, but then they complicated the mistake by having no management once they bombed you know what out of Gadhafi. I mean, she made a terrible mistake on Libya. And part of it was the management after effect. I think that we have great management talents, great management skills.
LAUER: But you are prepared?
TRUMP: And I have to tell you — totally prepared. But remember this. I found this subject and these subjects of interest all of my life, Matt. This hasn’t been over the last 14 months. I’ve found these substantiates of tremendous interest. That’s why they were asking me about Iraq 14 years ago. They were asking me these questions. They don’t ask businesspeople those questions.
What exactly prepared you Mr Trump? What exactly did you study? That makes you "100 percent" and  "totally prepared"? 
LAUER: Let me end in kind of the same place I started. Have you given much thought, Mr. Trump, if you’re elected president and commander-in-chief, to that moment where you’re going to have to make that first decision that puts American men and women in harm’s way?
TRUMP: I think it’s the most difficult decision you can possibly ever make. You’re talking about death. And we’re talking death to not just our side. We’re talking death all over. I would be very, very cautious. I think I’d be a lot slower. She has a happy trigger. You look, she votes for the wars, she goes in Libya…

Notice no follow up questions. My questions are in blue highlight. His hyperbole and lies are in yellow highlight. The first question Lauer should have asked in any normal environment gone like this --what makes you feel prepared to be commander in chief after your five military deferments in Viet Nam; your recent attempt to demean the character of a former prisoner of war, Senator John McCain and your questioning of the sacrifice of a Gold Star family.

If Trump is elected in November the media will bear heavy responsibility for not calling this Mountebank, this charlatan, fraudster out. Meanwhile did you hear the news--if Trump loses he is going to set up his own  Trump TV network to be bigger than Fox. Watch out mainstream media Trump also wants a piece of your mega billions as well.
If you don't like the media's treatment make your views known to the FCC
and/ or to the major national TV stations. Tell them to stop chasing after ratings (Lauer was clearly fearful of offending the very thin skinned Trump who might dare to boycott his highly rated morning show if he got a question he did not like) and live up to the broadcasting traditions of Morrow and Cronkite.

Media Has Created Trump the Mountebank

According to the Oxford English Dictionary--a Mountebank is "an itinerant quack" and an "impudent pretender to skill a charlatan, one or resorts to degrading means to obtain notoriety" The word is derived from an Italian phrase ---to mount a bench and proceeds to appeal to an audience through the use of showmanship and tricks.  Does this sound like anyone we know? OK Yes the GOP nominee Donald J Trump whose major trick was to get himself into the presidential stakes by claiming that Obama was not an American citizen and thus an illegitimate president. Today he went back on that claim and issued a statement without any reason or apology that President Obama was born in the US as if he now is the ultimate arbiter of who is and who is not an American citizen.  The sheer chutzpah,  the lack of shame or embarrassment that he has been fronting what became known as the birther movement should stop anyone in their tracks but Trump's consistent lies and lack of shame no longer is of much interest to the media. They consistently cover him as if he were a serious candidate --no one so far in the media (with the possible exception of Chris Mathews on the issue of abortion) has been able to ask any solid follow up questions of Trump. They have allowed one question on one topic, usually a soft ball one and allow his bluster to go unchallenged.

Take a look below of a typical interview. This was high stakes debate on the military -

LAUER: You said in the speech today, you said history shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is the greatest.
TRUMP: And we’re not prepared.

Why is that Mr Trump--we spend more on the military than the next nine major countries combined

LAUER: Will you be prepared on day one, if you’re elected president of the United States, to tackle these complex national security issues?
TRUMP: One hundred percent. Hey, Matt, again, she made a mistake on Libya. She made a terrible mistake on Libya. And the next thing, I mean, not only did she make the mistake, but then they complicated the mistake by having no management once they bombed you know what out of Gadhafi. I mean, she made a terrible mistake on Libya. And part of it was the management after effect. I think that we have great management talents, great management skills.
LAUER: But you are prepared?
TRUMP: And I have to tell you — totally prepared. But remember this. I found this subject and these subjects of interest all of my life, Matt. This hasn’t been over the last 14 months. I’ve found these substantiates of tremendous interest. That’s why they were asking me about Iraq 14 years ago. They were asking me these questions. They don’t ask businesspeople those questions.
What exactly prepared you Mr Trump? What exactly did you study? That makes you "100 percent" and  "totally prepared"? 
LAUER: Let me end in kind of the same place I started. Have you given much thought, Mr. Trump, if you’re elected president and commander-in-chief, to that moment where you’re going to have to make that first decision that puts American men and women in harm’s way?
TRUMP: I think it’s the most difficult decision you can possibly ever make. You’re talking about death. And we’re talking death to not just our side. We’re talking death all over. I would be very, very cautious. I think I’d be a lot slower. She has a happy trigger. You look, she votes for the wars, she goes in Libya…

Notice no follow up questions. My questions are in blue highlight. His hyperbole and lies are in yellow highlight. The first question Lauer should have asked in any normal environment gone like this --what makes you feel prepared to be commander in chief after your five military deferments in Viet Nam; your recent attempt to demean the character of a former prisoner of war, Senator John McCain and your questioning of the sacrifice of a Gold Star family.

If Trump is elected in November the media will bear heavy responsibility for not calling this Mountebank, this charlatan, fraudster out. Meanwhile did you hear the news--if Trump loses he is going to set up his own  Trump TV network to be bigger than Fox. Watch out mainstream media Trump also wants a piece of your mega billions as well.