Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fair Game

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. -- Hunter S. Thompson

The repudiation of Marco Rubio's attempted insurgency has been conventionally attributed to a mistaken strategy to fight fire with fire, as it were. While it was probably not the best strategy for Rubio, the fact is that he had to try something to remain viable in the race, and countering Drumpf's constant cock-punching actually was as good an idea as any other available option.

In other words, the reason Rubio's strategy did not work was not because it was the wrong strategy, but because it's a skill set not really in Rubio's wheelhouse. Rubio has time and again exposed himself as a rank amateur, politically -- he talks a good game, but that's only because he has memorized a sequence of plays from the playbook. He's solid at repeating stock phrases and platitudes, but cannot extemporize to save his life.

Drumpf, on the other hand, is an old hand at this sort of thing, is relatively fast on his feet, and is also adept at throwing out sheets of meaningless bafflegab, and making sound just enough like something to placate the maroons who are already on board with him. Rubio didn't have a chance. He's just not temperamentally suited to insult comedy the way Drumpf is, and he (Rubio) is also apparently too dim to realize where he actually drew a little blood and should have kept hacking -- at Drumpf's numerous business failures and scams, failed lawsuits, busted attempts at tycoon legitimacy, etc.

This is Drumpf's true Achilles heel:  the idea that he is some sort of business genius, a master of the impenetrable art of negotiation, a wizard of the dark science of manipulating others to your own advantage. Give me a fucking break. Drumpf's entire business career is a validation of the old saw that when you owe the bank a million dollars, you have a problem; when you owe the bank a billion dollars, the bank has a problem.

You know who's a good businessman? Warren Buffett. Hell, the Koch Brothers, politics aside, are good businessmen. They create tangible products that other human beings can use, they create value, jobs, material goods, etc. Drumpf is merely the figurehead of a brand, a brand whose value is whatever its comically spray-tanned face says it is, because the value created by the brand accrues only to its holder. There is no product, unless you think an asinine, played-out lump of reality-teevee shit is a product with intrinsic value.

But even in the world of teevee and entertainment, Drumpf's ten-pound growler of a show has no intrinsic, carried value, in the long-tail sense that he surely must have taught his instructors at Wharton about, since he knows everything about everything and other mortals are far stupider than he. (Drumpf must be the only person in the history of higher education who attended solely to teach the teachers.)

Anyway, if you have a teevee show, the goal of long-term monetization of your brilliant creation is to get it into syndication (reruns), and sell DVDs. You can purchase the first twelve "seasons" of The Apprentice (if, for some bizarre reason, you're the sort of weirdo that would do such a thing with your precious money and time) for about sixty-five bucks. That can't be much more than the cost of manufacturing and packaging the discs themselves. At roughly five bucks per "season" (assuming 4-5 discs per), even a charitable number-crunch sounds like it's in loss-leader territory.

Thanks to the magic of Teh Googul, pretty much anyone can check out the actual history of Drumpf's business "success" with a modest amount of digging, and very little real time. Drumpf is wealthy, but almost certainly nowhere near as wealthy as he claims. Much of his "net value" is based on what he thinks his brand is worth; the tangible, empirical value is far less.

Let's put it this way:  if you want to know what Drumpf is really worth, you'll have to take a look at his tax returns. Needless to say, he's in no rush to release those.

So the guy's business acumen is mostly two pounds of shit in a twenty-pound sack. This hasn't gotten much media scrutiny because it's early in the election season, and the media are complacent and lazy.

The last couple weeks have seen the media focus on the increasingly violent reactions to protesters at Drumpf putschesrallies, frequently through a race-based prism, as many of the protesters were black, and most of the more violent reactions seemed to be against black protesters. At first, I felt that the race factor was overstated, but things seem to be coming to a boil the last couple nights, there does seem to be an element of race in all this. It's not a coincidence that the minority turnout at these rallies seems to be in the low single digits. But don't kid yourself -- these drooling meatbags would be just as happy to sucker-punch a white hippie as a black one.

The primary driver of the violence is not race -- it's the authoritarian impulse to overreact, to react with violence and volume and vituperation, to any dissent. The rallies are best imagined as any given internets comment board, but larger, dumber, and in real time. These people will not only tolerate no disagreement, but not even any discussion of the lies Drumpf is selling as talking points. They are in no mood to debate anything. This is why, whether the protest are actually disruptive or not, the protesters are brusquely hustled out, even for an article of clothing deemed unsuitable.

Drumpf has gotten this far not only because of the media's complacence and complaisance, but because many of them are soulless, star-fucking, ratings-driven hacks who are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to suck up to Drumpf and carry his water. This is sad, but certainly not surprising in the least.

But now that Drumpf's campaign manager has assaulted a conservative reporter, things are getting weirder, but clearer for the media lapdogs. The message has been sent from the Trump campaign to the servile media scriveners:  We will work with you only to the extent that you are of use to us. Beyond that, you are nothing, a bug on our windshield.

This may (hopefully) be where the dope train finally derails. Drumpf has already disrupted Fox, and now Breitbart appears riven over the Michelle Fields situation. Now that people who may actually aspire to be journalists can see that there is no benefit for them to cater to Drumpf's magical misery tour, they have a clear incentive to do their jobs, exploit the cracks in the conservatard propaganda machine. Hell, even the hackiest of conservahacks may want to point out that Drumpf is neither conservative nor Republican, in any real sense of either of those words.

Just when you thought this couldn't get more disturbing yet undeniably entertaining, the circus turns yet another corner. It will probably take someone getting killed at this point for the adults to say that enough is enough, but in the meantime, with or without diligent media scrutiny, the violence, authoritarianism, and incipient racism does nothing but solidify Drumpf's ceiling. He is about to be cemented as the face of a party that had nothing better to offer.

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