Wednesday, June 01, 2016


I want to believe this will hurt Donald Trump in November:
In blunt testimony revealed on Tuesday, former managers of Trump University, the for-profit school started by Donald J. Trump, portray it as an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students willing to pay tens of thousands for Mr. Trump’s insights.

One sales manager for Trump University, Ronald Schnackenberg, recounted how he was reprimanded for not pushing a financially struggling couple hard enough to sign up for a $35,000 real estate class, despite his conclusion that it would endanger their economic future. He watched with disgust, he said, as a fellow Trump University salesman persuaded the couple to purchase the class anyway.

“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Mr. Schnackenberg wrote in his testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”
It ought to hurt him, obviously. But I suspect that a lot of people -- and not just in Trump's voter base -- will apply the "just world" fallacy and assume that anyone who signed up but couldn't afford the fees probably deserved to go into permanent debt, and anyone who wasn't able to emerge from the school with the skill to make money in real estate simply wasn't bright enough to take advantage of what Trump had to offer. We're inclined to believe that people who suffer did something bad to deserve that suffering. It's hard to overcome that.

Contrast the Trump U story with this ad, which was run against Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign:

A worker for a company that came under the control of Romney's Bain Capital says:
"Out of the blue one day, we were told to build a 30-foot stage. Gathered the guys, and we built that 30-foot stage, not knowing what it was for. Just days later, all three shifts were told to assemble in the warehouse.

A group of people walked out on that stage, and told us that the plant is now closed, and all of you are fired. I looked both ways, I looked at the crowd, and we all just lost our jobs. We don’t have an income.

Mitt Romney made over a hundred million dollars by shutting down our plant, and devastated our lives.

"Turns out that when we built that stage, it was like building my own coffin. And it just made me sick."
It's harder to apply "just world" thinking in this case -- here's a guy who went to the same job every day, and one day, through no fault of his own, Bain Capital came along and took away his job. We don't see this worker making any bad choices.

But the Trump U attendees all signed on willingly and (if that's what we prefer to believe) wittingly. Just-worlders will say they knew what the costs were, and will cling to the favorable assessments of the U offered up by Trump as evidence that there was valuable information available if you were willing to do the work.

I don't know that this is how most people are going to react. I really can't tell. I just think it's possible that Trump U isn't going to make the scales fall from Trump diehards' eyes, or be the thing that turns fence-sitters into detractors. But we'll see.


Unknown said...

"The Art Of The Boiler Room?" Howard Dean last night on O'Donnell was 100% correct when he stated "Both side are after the 15 Million voters in the middle". This Trump U scam will definitely affect that 15 million.

Unknown said...

OK what planet are you really from. When people see the regular people that this pig has hurt either at tRump U or in his bankruptcy filings it will leave a mark.

Feud Turgidson said...

What COULD really do it is if the electorate were able to see the recorded 'grading' of the Trump U course, because then the public would see how freaking OLD and VULNERABLE these poor fucks really were who Trump ripped off.

And now we know it's wasn't someone else using Trump's 'brand', it was Trump himself: he owns 93% fo the venture even now, and owned it all from inception - HIS inception.

Joey Blau said...

Hitler.. I mean Hillary will have to repeat simple phrases more than she does now. She has to take a page out of all the attacks on her and use the words "lied", (not liar), "cheated", "scammed" and "stole" over and over..

Trump lied about how much he makes and cheated people of their life savings to make it. Trump scammed his way to the top. Is that what you want?

Ten Bears said...

Pullin' one over on The Man is the 'Murikan way.

dSmith said...

Even if Trump voters don't mind that he scammed people then, wouldn't some of them be concerned that he's scamming them now?

sdhays said...

You may be right that this might not end Trump by itself. But it's coming at a bad time for Trump, as he faces accusations that he nearly ripped off a bunch of veterans groups and tried to get away without paying out his own money (and still didn't pay out all the money he claimed had been raise) as well as credible claims that he's not even close to a billionaire. The veterans issue does not seem to be going away now that the money has been paid; the mainstream media actually seems to be reporting it with skepticism.

I think the veterans charity story is the wedge that has opened the floodgates. The press senses that the Washington Post had Trump by short-and-curlies and he buckled. It's blood in the water, and no amount of Hillary hatred can cover up the smell of that sweet, sweet blood. Trump nearly spitting on them with contempt over it won't win him any allies in the press either.

With Trump University, he basically introduced the issue himself by loudly slandering a Federal judge on multiple occasions and telegraphing that he knows he going to lose this case. "Scam" and "Trump" have now been primed in the media consciousness because they've seen it happen in real-time in front of their very eyes. I think they've been a little frustrated themselves over the way Trump has been able to get them talking about something else no matter what outrageous thing he says or has done comes to light, and now they see an opportunity to force him to react to them instead of the other way around. It's not going away.

And now Mark Cuban comes out and says what many of us have been suspecting for quite some time: Trump's nowhere close to being a billionaire, let alone worth $10 billion. This has three beautiful elements: 1) if it's true, Trump has no possibility of summoning the requisite resources for a Presidential campaign; 2) whether it's true or not, Trump is incapable of proving that he actually is a billionaire, either because he isn't one or is terrified of what other things the documents used to prove his net worth will reveal; and 3) it perfectly explains Trump University and the veterans charity scam: Trump "needs" the money. So now doubt will constantly be seeded as to whether Trump is even actually a billionaire, tying up all of these other scams and adding a nice scam cherry on top. And Trump seemingly can't do a thing about it. I think it's going to be rather "taxing" on his ego, and it's going to be tough on his allies as well.

I just hope he's able to keep himself together through the convention. For a while, I was cautious about counting my blessings before November (the Democrats still need to work damn hard), but I'd hate to have gotten this far and have this putrid farce of candidate whisked away before the Republican Party is forced to serenade and run with him at the top of their ticket...

Grung_e_Gene said...

Trump voters would never fall for a scam they are all alpha males! And Veterans love Trump cause he'll make them great again!

jsrtheta said...

I really don't care if it makes the scales fall from his supporters eyes. His supporters aren't enough to get him in. Ernest Lamonica is right to quote Howard Dean, who is also, er, right: The people who are in the middle, who haven't committed either way, will be very hard-put to justify backing this clown now.

And as sdhays notes, the musings of Mark Cuban are probably true. I have never believed this lie about being a "billionaire." Anyone who ascribes a multi-billion dollar value to his "name," his "brand," is full of shit. His name isn't Gates. He's always been a sleekit real estate hustler that no one takes seriously in the real big money world. (See him hanging around with the Kochs? Pickett? Adelson? Would they even take his calls?) As Cuban says, no "billionaire" is going to waste his time chasing small money for vanity steaks, or wine, or a "real estate" school. These are all short cons. They don't bring in anywhere near the money a billionaire cares about. But, as Cuban also suggested, they do indicate a need for cash, for some sort of revenue stream which, when you owe like Trump does, reveals a classic Peter-to-pay-Paul operator, someone who's always just a step ahead of the banks and the lenders and the people who fronted you the money to build your con. But how much is he bringing in while campaigning? Does anyone really think he had any intention of writing that check for $1 million?

This could all fall apart before the convention. He's already running cheesy ads begging people to "commit to him" and "Call Him!" (with money), and "If you already called, CALL AGAIN!" The party can't pony up what he'll need in the general, and it doesn't look like anyone else will, and we know he doesn't have it.

I think he sees it all falling apart, and that's why he lost it yesterday.