AP NEWS: “Trump Facebook Campaign Ads Use Models to Portray Actual Supporters”

It’s a practice that, under different circumstances, Trump himself would likely blast as “fake news”.

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A series of Facebook video ads for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign shows what appears to be a young woman strolling on a beach in Florida, a Hispanic man on a city street in Texas and a bearded hipster in a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., all making glowing, voice-over endorsements of the president.

“I could not ask for a better president,” intones the voice during slow-motion footage of the smiling blonde called “Tracey from Florida.” A man labeled on another video as “AJ from Texas” stares into the camera as a voice says, “Although I am a lifelong Democrat, I sincerely believe that a nation must secure its borders.”

There’s just one problem: The people in the videos that ran in the past few months are all actually models in stock video footage produced far from the U.S. in France, Brazil and Turkey, and available to anyone online for a fee.

Though the 20-second videos include tiny disclaimers that say “actual testimonial, actor portrayal,” they raise the question why a campaign that can fill arenas with supporters would have to buy stock footage of models. It’s a practice that, under different circumstances, Trump himself would likely blast as “fake news.”

Trump campaign officials declined repeated requests for comment on Tuesday. Political experts say that, while it’s not unusual for stock footage to find its way into ads, a presidential campaign should have been more careful.

“As a producer, you want to control — you want people to look a certain way and you want them to sound a certain way,” said Jay Newell, a former cable TV executive who teaches advertising at Iowa State University. “The fact that the footage is from outside the U.S. makes it that much more embarrassing.”

There are plenty examples of such gaffes. In the last presidential primaries, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio ran an ad titled “Morning in America” with shots from Canada. A super PAC supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush put ads on TV with video reportedly from the English countryside and workers from Southeast Asia.

Trump himself has used video from abroad before. His 2016 TV ad vowing to build a wall to keep out immigrants from Mexico showed people streaming across the border — but the shots of refugees were taken in Morocco.

The existence of the stock footage in this series of Trump ads, reported last week by Judd Legum for his website Popular Information , underscores an increasingly aggressive, targeted approach by the Trump campaign to reach out to voters on Facebook.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which was behind the testimonial videos, is by far the biggest spender on political Facebook advertising, shelling out more than $2.7 million on 27,735 ads in the last 90 days alone, according to the social network’s running database of campaign ad spending. That’s in addition to the more than $1 million spent on more than 14,500 ads in the same period by Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

Trump’s campaign gets to such totals by running the same ads numerous times, all at slightly different audiences.

“Thomas from Washington,” featuring the bearded young man behind a coffee shop counter, appeared aimed at evangelicals, with the voice-over quote saying the president and his family are “in our prayers for strength and wisdom from God almighty.” ″AJ from Texas” seemed focused on Hispanic men. And “Tracey in Florida” was aimed specifically at a demographic in which Trump is historically weak — young women.

All are models for Turkish, Brazilian and French companies, respectively, that supply hundreds of photos and video to the popular site iStock run by Getty Images, which caters to publications, filmmakers and advertisers looking for professional, inexpensive imagery.

According to the site, licenses for the video clips used in the Trump ads can be had for as little as $170.

The blonde on the beach appears to be particularly prolific. Her photos and videos from the French company Tuto Photos in Roubaix, France, show her twirling in a wedding gown, walking spaniels in a meadow, getting her teeth checked at the dentist and working in a warehouse.

And the star of iStock’s “Bearded and tattooed hipster coffee shop owner posing” — also known as Trump’s “Thomas from Washington” — is a fixture on the videos and photos contributed by the company GM Stock out of Izmir, Turkey. His unmistakable beard and tats can be seen on the image site strolling with a woman on the beach, sitting by a campfire and pumping iron in the gym.

So what do these models think of being held up as model Trump supporters?

That’s not clear because none of the companies they’ve posed for would give a detailed comment to The Associated Press. A spokeswoman for Getty Images would not identify the models, citing privacy concerns.

Fred Davis, a campaign consultant who’s produced ads for George W. Bush and other Republican presidential candidates, said the Trump campaign’s use of such footage is not surprising, given the volume of political ads on the internet these days.

“Whoever did this is probably 22 years old, and they’re going through pictures and thought, ‘This is a great picture,’” Davis said.

“This is a great shot of Thomas from Washington. It’s a shame it’s not Thomas from Washington.”

 

~via APNews.com

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CONSCIOUS REMINDER: “10 ‘Spiritual’ Things People Do That Are Total Bullsh*t”

“My vibration is so high, man. My chakras are so aligned. F***ckkkk, I’m a spiritual beast, bro.”

 

No one ever told me spirituality could be a self-sabotaging ego trap.

I spent about three years reading about spiritual teachings and incorporating them into my life before ever learning that spirituality has a dark side.

Naturally, I was taken aback. I felt kind of betrayed.

How could something that seemed so pure and good be harmful?

The answer has to do with something that psychologists call spiritual bypassing. In the early 1980’s, psychologist John Welwood coined the term “spiritual bypassing” to refer to the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid confronting uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs.

According to integral psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters, spiritual bypassing causes us to withdraw from ourselves and others, to hide behind a kind of spiritual veil of metaphysical beliefs and practices. He says it “not only distances us from our pain and difficult personal issues, but also from our own
 authentic spirituality, stranding us in a metaphysical limbo, a zone of
 exaggerated gentleness, niceness, and superficiality.”

Painful Realizations: My Own Spiritual Bypassing

In Robert August Masters’ groundbreaking book, Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters, he writes:

“Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated
 detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, 
anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous 
boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead
 of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s
 negativity or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the
 spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”

I encountered the concept of spiritual bypassing for the first time in Masters’ work. Although I was reluctant to admit it, I immediately knew on some level that this concept applied to me.

As I continued to reflect on spiritual bypassing, I noticed more and more shadow aspects of spirituality, and I realized that I had unknowingly been enacting many of them at one time or another.

Though painful, these were some of the most important realizations I’ve ever had. They’ve helped me to stop using a warped form of “spirituality” as an ego boost and to begin taking greater responsibility for addressing my psychological needs and the issues that arise in my life.

10 “Spiritual” Things People Do That Sabotage Their Growth

The best way to understand spiritual bypassing is through examples, so now, it’s time for some tough love.

I’m going to go into detail to describe ten specific shadow tendencies of spiritual people.

Caution: Some of these may hit pretty close to home.

Remember: You need not feel ashamed to admit that some of the items on this list apply to you. I suspect some of them apply to everyone who has ever taken an interest in spirituality. Most of them applied to me at one point or another, and some I’m still working through.

The goal here is not to judge, but to increase self-awareness in order to progress toward a more honest, empowering, useful spirituality. Let’s get into it.

1. Participate in “spiritual” activities to make themselves feel superior to other people.

This is probably one of the most pervasive shadow aspects of spirituality, and it takes many forms. Some people feel superior because they read Alan Watts. Or ride their bike to work. Or refrain from watching TV. Or eat a vegetarian diet. Or use crystals. Or visit temples. Or practice yoga or meditation. Or take psychedelics.

Note that I’m not saying anything about the value of partaking of these activities. I love Alan Watts and think meditation is quite beneficial. What I’m saying is that it’s alarmingly easy to allow your spiritual ideas and practices to become an ego trap — to believe that you’re so much better and more enlightened than all those other “sheeple” because you’re doing all of these rad #woke things. Ultimately, this sort of attitude toward “spirituality” is no better than believing you’re better than everyone else because you’re a Democrat or a Lakers fan. This dysfunction actually inhibits genuine spirituality by causing us to focus on one-upping other people, rather than cultivating a sense of connection to the cosmos and feeling poetic wonder at the sublime grandeur of existence.

2. Use “spirituality” as a justification for failing to take responsibility for their actions.

The essence of the point is that it’s very easy to twist certain spiritual mantras or ideas into justifications for being irresponsible or unreliable.

“It is what it is.” or “The universe is already perfect.” or “Everything happens for a reason.” can all function as excellent justifications for never doing much of anything and never really examining one’s behavior. I’m not commenting on the truth or un-truth of the above statements. I’m just saying that if you’re consistently hours late for appointments, if you frequently neglect your close personal relationships, and your roommates can’t count on you to pay rent, you might want to stop telling yourself, “Whatever man, reality is an illusion anyway.” and start becoming someone others can depend on.

In a similar vein, it’s surprisingly easy to deceive yourself into thinking that anytime someone has a problem with your behavior, it’s because that person “isn’t honoring my truth” or “just needs to grow spiritually.” It’s much more difficult to acknowledge the moments in which we act brashly, selfishly, or thoughtlessly and inflict suffering upon someone else. It’s much more difficult to admit that we too are far from perfect, and that growth and learning are never-ending processes.

3. Adopt new hobbies, interests, and beliefs simply because they’re the latest “spiritual” fad.

Human beings want to fit in somewhere. We all have a deep need to feel that we belong. And we form groups of all kinds to satiate this need. Spirituality is one interest area around which people form all sorts of groups. This is potentially a great thing, but it also has a shadow aspect.

For many people, “spirituality” is little more than a hip thing that a lot of people seem to care about. These people get the idea that they want to jump on the spiritual bandwagon, so they start practicing yoga, wearing New Age fashion items, going to music festivals, drinking ayahuasca, etc., and they tell themselves that this makes them “spiritual.” These “spiritual scenesters” dilute the significance of genuine spiritual inquiry, contemplation, experience, and realization. They also, in my experience, tend to be the “spiritual” people who are using “spirituality” as a reason to feel superior to others.

4. Judge others for expressing anger or other strong emotions, even when it’s necessary to do so.

This is one of the first patterns I noticed in myself after being introduced to spiritual bypassing. I realized that when people became upset or angry with me, my response was to say things like, “Getting angry doesn’t help anything.” or “I feel we would have fewer problems if we could remain calm.” Internally, I would silently judge the other person, thinking, “If only they were more enlightened, we could avoid this drama.” In many situations, this was my way of avoiding deep issues that needed to be addressed.

When you become interested in spirituality, one of the first quotes you’re likely to encounter is: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you are the one who ends up getting burned.”

This quote is commonly mis-attributed to the Buddha, though it’s actually a paraphrase of a statement made by Buddhaghosa in the 5th century. The subtle point of the quote is that we shouldn’t hold on to anger; we should feel it, express it if necessary, then let it go. However, it’s very easy for the lay person to assume that this means that anger, in any form, is a sign that one is unwise, un-spiritual. This is untrue. Anger is a natural human emotion and a perfectly justifiable response to many situations. Often, anger is an indicator that there are serious issues that need to be countenanced within oneself or one’s relationships.

Ironically, many spiritual people repress all “non-spiritual” emotions and artificially heighten “spiritual” emotions/traits such as compassion, kindness, and equanimity. This leads to inauthenticity. One struggles to constantly present oneself as calm, gentle, nice, and in a state of perpetual peace, and ultimately ends up looking and feeling like a fraud.

5. Use “spirituality” as a justification for excessive drug use.

A lot of people, myself included, believe that psychedelic drugs can occasion mystical experiences and enhance (secular) spirituality. That’s all fine and good, but some people take this realization too far, using it as a way to rationalize self-destructive patterns of drug use and to blind themselves to the dark sides of various substances.

In the most extreme cases, “spiritual” people end up “performing cannabis ceremonies” during all their waking hours; taking psychedelics too frequently or in unsuitable contexts; and completely denying that these substances have any negative effects. Now, HighExistence tends to be pro-psychedelics, but let me give it to you straight: Psychedelics, including cannabis, have a definite dark side. If you’re irresponsible or simply unlucky, stronger psychedelics such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms can occasion traumatic experiences with long-term negative ramifications. And cannabis, a mild psychedelic, is a seductively habit-forming drug that will subtly cloud your mind and erode your motivation if you indulge too much, too frequently. Respect the substances, and utilize them wisely.

6. Overemphasize “positivity” in order to avoid looking at the problems in their lives and in the world.

“Just be positive!” is often employed as a deflection mechanism by “spiritual” people who would rather not do the difficult work of confronting their own internal issues, wounding, and baggage, let alone the problems of the world. The “positivity” movement has exploded in Western culture in recent years. The Internet is overflowing with seemingly endless memes and articles repeating the same inane messages: “Think positive thoughts!” “Just be positive!” “Don’t focus on the negative!”

Though there is surely value in cultivating gratitude for the many marvels of the human experience, this movement seems to overlook something critical: The darker aspects of life do not disappear, simply because they are ignored. In fact, many problems in our individual lives and on the global scale seem only to worsen or complexify when they are ignored. In the same way that it would seem absurd to offer a heroine addict the phrase “Just think positive!” as a solution to their problem, it is absurd to believe that positive thinking offers any kind of solution to major global issues such as climate change, poverty, industrial farming, and existential risks.

This is not to say that we ought to take the world’s problems onto our shoulders and feel shitty about them all the time. It’s healthy to recognize and feel optimistic about the fact that in many important ways, the world is getting better. However, we need to balance that optimism with a willingness to confront real issues in our personal lives, our communities, our world.

7. Repress unpleasant emotions that don’t fit their “spiritual” self-narrative.

“No way, I can’t possibly be depressed or lonely or scared or anxious. I love life too much, and I’m too [Zen / wise / enlightened] to allow that to happen anyway.”

I ran into this issue when I moved to South Korea to be an English teacher for a year. I thought I had cultivated an unflappable chill, a Lao Tzu-esque ability to just “go with the flow” and float, bobber-like, atop the rising and falling waves of destiny.

Then I experienced culture shock, crushing loneliness, and acute homesickness, and I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t some kind of Zen master after all. Or rather, I had to realize that the ability to “go with the flow” and accept whatever is happening is perennially valuable, but that sometimes that will mean accepting that you feel like a steaming pile of shit.

It’s easy to delude oneself into believing that spirituality is going to make life feel like endlessly floating upon a cloud, but in practice, this is not the case. Life is still full of suffering, and in order to really grow and learn from our experience, we need to be honest with ourselves about what we’re feeling and let ourselves feel it fully. In my case, my desire to always be “Zen,” to “go with the flow,” and to project an image of inner peace to myself and others prevented me from seeing the truth of various situations/experiences and taking responsibility for dealing with them.

8. Feel deep aversion and self-loathing when confronted with their shadow side.

I noticed this in myself pretty quickly after learning about spiritual bypassing. I saw that my narcissistic image of myself as a wise person who had attained “higher” realizations was causing a ridiculous amount of cognitive dissonance. I judged myself scathingly and felt colossal, crushing guilt over any less-than-virtuous decisions.

When you become interested in spirituality, it’s easy to idolize people like the Buddha or the Dalai Lama, and to believe that these people are Perfect Humans who always act with complete awareness and compassion. In actuality, this is almost certainly not the case. Even if it’s true that some humans reach a level of realization at which they uphold “right action” in all circumstances, we need to acknowledge that such a thing is reserved for the very few. I personally suspect that such a thing does not exist.

In actuality, we’re all fallible humans, and we’re all going to make mistakes. The deck is stacked against us. It’s virtually impossible to live even a few weeks of adult human life without committing a few blunders, if only minor ones. Over the course of years, there will be major mistakes. It happens to all of us, and it’s okay. Forgive yourself. All you can do is learn from your errors and strive to do better in the future.

Paradoxically, the seemingly spiritual lesson of self-forgiveness can be especially difficult to internalize for people interested in spirituality. Spiritual teachings can leave one with stratospherically high ideals that result in immense guilt and self-loathing when one fails to live up to them. This is a major reason why it’s so common for spiritual people to deflect responsibility — because being honest about their shortcomings would be too painful. Ironically, we must be honest with ourselves about our mistakes in order to learn from them and grow into more self-aware, compassionate versions of ourselves. Just remember: You’re only human. It’s okay to make mistakes. Really, it’s okay. But admit to yourself when you’ve made a mistake and learn from it.

9. Find themselves in bad situations due to excessive tolerance and a refusal to distinguish between people.

This is me, 100%. For a long time, I’ve taken very seriously the idea that every human being deserves compassion and kindness. I don’t disagree with that idea nowadays, but I’ve realized that there are numerous situations in which other considerations should temporarily override my desire to treat every other human compassionately.

In multiple foreign countries, I’ve found myself in potentially life-threatening situations because I was overly trusting of people I did not know or overly kind to people who I should have recognized as shady characters. Luckily, I’ve never gotten hurt in these situations, but I have been robbed and swindled several times. In every case, I wanted to believe that the people I was interacting with were “good” people at heart and would treat me with kindness if I did so for them. That line of thinking was terribly naive, and I’m still trying to re-condition myself to understand that in certain contexts, being warm is not the answer.

The sad fact is that although you might be insulated from it, the struggle for survival is still very real for vast numbers of people on this planet. Many people have grown up in poverty, surrounded by crime, and have learned that the only way to survive is by preying upon weakness. The majority of people worldwide seem not to have this mentality, but if you find yourself in a city or country in which poverty is fairly prevalent, you should take certain common-sense precautions — basic things, like:

1. Don’t walk anywhere alone after dark.

2. Try to stay away from vacant areas.

3. Don’t stop to engage with people who try to sell you things.

4. Make distinctions between people; let yourself know that it’s okay to trust your brain’s highly evolved pattern-matching mechanism when it tells you that someone looks like they’re on drugs, deranged, desperate, or dangerous.

10. Want so badly for various “spiritual” practices to be correct that they disregard science entirely.

There’s a pretty heavily anti-scientific streak in a lot of the spiritual community, and I think this is a shame. It seems to me that many spiritual people become hostile toward science because certain beliefs and practices they find valuable are considered unproven or pseudoscientific within the scientific community. If a belief or practice is unproven or pseudoscientific, this only means that we have not yet been able to confirm its validity through repeatable experimentation in a lab setting. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t true or valuable.

The scientific method is one of the best tools we have for understanding the mechanics of the observable universe; it allowed us to discover the profound truth of biological evolution, observe the far reaches of space, extend our lifespans by decades, and walk on the moon, among other things; to discard it entirely is to lose one of our most powerful lenses for understanding reality.

As Carl Sagan memorably put it:

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

We’re All Learning…

I think that in order for the various interconnected global spiritual movements to be maximally impactful and useful, they need to address their shadow aspects.

In this essay, I have attempted to illuminate some of the blind spots that seem to be prevalent in the spiritual community. As I’ve said, most of the items I discussed applied to me at one point or another. It’s decidedly easy to fall into some of the traps of spirituality and to harbor various limiting beliefs and behaviors while feeling like one has reached a “higher” level of being.

The lesson here is that growth and learning are unending processes. If you think you have nothing left to learn, you’re probably sabotaging yourself in a number of ways. It can be profoundly difficult to admit that for a long time one has been incorrect or misguided, but the alternative is much worse. The alternative is a kind of spiritual and intellectual death — a state of perpetual stagnation in which one endlessly deludes oneself into thinking that one has all the answers, that one has reached one’s Final Form. In a rapidly changing world, continual learning is of paramount importance.

At its best, spirituality is a force that can help humanity realize our common identity as sentient beings, gain ecological awareness, feel connected to our cosmos, and address the most pressing issues of our time with compassion, ingenuity, equanimity, and what Einstein called a “holy curiosity.”

At its best, spirituality is a force which propels us toward a more harmonious, cooperative, sustainable future. Here’s to refining our collective spirituality and co-creating a more beautiful world.

 

 

~via ConsciousReminder.com

DIANE KATHERINE: “6 Reasons Empaths Freeze Around Inauthentic People”

empathProtection

When an Empath comes across fake people it is common for them to shut down as a form of protection.  This can be seen as stumbling over words or one’s memory and thought process being affected. Anyone who is not emanating truthful vibes will put an Empath on high alert.

In my days as a hairdresser, I could never understand why when I was with certain clients, who came across lovely, I would get awful feelings inside. It was only when I discovered I was an Empath that it all made sense to me. I was feeling their pain that they were hiding in fake behavior.

There are many levels of falseness and many reasons for it. In the early days of discovering of one’s Empathic abilities it may not always be easy to pinpoint just why someone feels so bad to you.

Here are some traits and behaviors that may leave you feeling awful:
  1. Someone who wants to loved by everyone they meet acts overly nice to get adoration.
  2. Someone being filled with hate or anger yet working hard to convince the world otherwise.
  3. Someone having had an emotionally destructive childhood leaving them insecure and in pain, yet playing the tough guy.
  4. Someone building a totally new personality to hide the person they believe will not be accepted by society.
  5. Someone being full of insincere praise for you.
  6. Someone making up stories to make themselves sound interesting

And this is how you may find yourself reacting:

  1. Avoiding being in their presence, yet not really having a reason to do so (as in they did not say or do anything to hurt you).
  2. Not being able to talk to them. Sentences literally won’t form in your mouth and your brain acts like you have no memory. You find yourself just asking questions and if you do talk it feels like it makes no sense.
  3. Having a sense of dread in the pit of stomach that won’t go until you are no longer in said person’s presence.
  4. Any more than an hour spent in their company will drain you and leave you feeling ill.
  5. Feeling guilty because you may like person but dislike how it feels to be with them.
  6. Feeling helpless around them.

Now just because an Empath feels fakeness and untruths in another does not mean they do not fake themselves. For some, when they feel bad around a faker it may mean they are picking up a trait they do not like about themselves and they too hide it from the world.

We all have to put a face on and act fake at some point in our lives, but for some it’s everyday. We may have to be upbeat and happy when we feel sad or depressed, we may have to act annoyed when we are actually indifferent or we may have to pretend to love a job we actually detest. In some cases faking it can get us through difficult situations, but living it daily is not healthy.

It is important for the Empath to uncover any hidden traits and emotions, because whilst we bury a side of us we do not like we will never be happy or feel complete. However, the problem we have is that many of us do not know the root cause.

One of the biggest causes of unhappiness on this planet is people not knowing themselves and when we hide a side of us from others without knowing the reason, it will cause us pain. Being true and authentic is emotionally freeing. Quite often, many of the traits we buried have in fact been inherited and passed down the family line or they may even be from a past life. Wherever they stemmed from it is important for us to uncover these traits, and if they can’t be changed (some traits are hardwired), accept and learn to live with them.

Sensitive people will bury negative traits because we know how destructive they are but burying them does not lose them. They will always show up and cause damage.

Hate, anger, jealousy and fear of rejection are four traits most often buried. We may hate someone for the way they have behaved towards us. Anger may have been inherited from an angry parent. Praise and attention being bestowed on a childhood friend or sibling may have led to a jealous streak and being rejected as a child, by an unknowing parent for instance, may have built up inside as an intense fear of rejection. All very simple and innocent triggers, but all of which can snowball and lead us to have deep set insecurities that we feel have to remain hidden. When we recognize and accept a trait in self, it loses its hold.

~via AwakeningPeople.com