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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Citizens Untied, Part 1: The Art of the Grift

Keeping in mind that in politics, the first rule is always follow the money, there are actually two roads to pursue when following the money that Donny Boy has pulled in this campaign season.

The first should be painfully obvious:  since Drumpf is by nature and temperament nothing more than a con-man, a sleazy grifter plying his trade on oiled-up rubes from town to town, this is all a big money-grab for him. He's not spending any money on ads because that's not what the money's for. It's for reimbursing his properties,and padding the expenses on the invoice, after holding this or that "event" at said self-owned venue.

There is certainly some (probably more than some) truth to the notion that the Clinton Foundation is little more than a racket for political elites, greased with money-grubbing and favor-trading. But at least the Clintons put some of their own money into their foundation. The Drumpfs with their various "Human Fund" rackets simply shake down whatever friends they have left who want a tax write-off, put the money into a bag with a dollar sign on it, and then hang onto the bag until some media monkey shames them into handing over to an actual charity, at which point Donald or Uday or Qusay or whoever will act like it's their money they're donating.

But this isn't even that, it's a much more naked grift. Donny Boy owns Venue X, which of course is the yugest, classiest, most tremendous ever, believe me. So he holds a "press conference," guarantees extra coverage by saying something irredeemably stupid or needlessly provocative. Then the venue sends the campaign a bill for all the expenses they racked up for said event. All the refreshments and such like are purchased from companies controlled by Drumpf or one of his kids.

Not to mention that one of Drumpf's main -- and classiest, believe me -- tactics for saving campaign dollars is by stiffing the localities and municipalities where his rallies take place. They have to hire extra cops and pay them overtime because the morons who run his campaign pass out 20,000 admission tickets for a 4,000-seat venue, and someone has to handle the extra crowd of idjits who show up. Drumpf spouts his lies to the enraptured ruminants, blows town, and leaves said town holding the bag. Seeing as how he's not spending any money on advertising, and thus should have more than sufficient cash on hand to pay these places for their extra services, he's just doing it to be a dick.

Same thing as when he fucks over contractors on one of his bankrupt casinos -- he takes as much cash out of the failing enterprise as he can, shovels his personal debt into the flaming bag of shit, lets it all burn down, and walks away free and clear, indifferent to the fates of the suckers who were dumb enough to take him at his word. His word is shit, it's worthless.

These dumb cocksuckers in the audience deserve exactly what they're going to get from him. I mean, if they're not going to believe the red-diaper babies at the fucking Wall Street Journal, I don't know what to tell them. They richly deserve to choke on whatever poisonous nonsense Breitbart is spoon-feeding them.

This skipping-out-on-the-bills thing really bugs me, because I used to work in the manufacturing sector as an office manager, handling A/P, A/R, cash flow, and more. I worked directly with specialty vendors to get good prices on items that were proprietary, under patent review, and required special metallurgical processes (precision machining, case hardening, spiral-miter gear cutting, and more) to produce.

Sometimes subcontractors will hit you with change orders, reprocessing fees, etc. Most of them are small shops that have expenses and low margins to work within. Their time is money just as much as yours is. When they hit you with something that seems a bit unreasonable, you call them up and work out a reasonable compromise. They're not trying to fuck you, they're trying to make sure that they can pay their bills and their employees, just like you're trying to do.

Did they do your shop a solid by moving up your last order, by shortening the set lead time as a favor to you? Well, they can't do a favor every time, so maybe the next time when they have to pay someone overtime to help you on your shorter lead time, that's additional overhead that you need to step in and reimburse them for. Shit happens. Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on their part.

Cost overruns are routine in construction and manufacturing, and most of the time it's because of scope creep -- you get balls-deep into a project, and you (the manager) realize that you need more things than you thought you would when the project started. Happens. Every. Fucking. Time. And every project manager tries to schmooze the contractor into absorbing as much as possible of that scope creep into the sunk cost. That's their job. But the only reason a contractor might work with you on that is so he gets first consideration on the next project, otherwise, you need to pay the extra cost of the scope creep. Period.

Usually scope creep occurs because of relatively innocuous reasons -- generally the project managers and stakeholders just didn't think of every contingency when they drafted the project plan and scope of work, and got the contractor on board. Again, anyone who's ever worked in the wonderful world of project management for those industries will tell you it happens much more often than not; a project plan that goes completely unaltered from start to finish is likely to be a very small project, or one that turns out to be insufficiently scalable.

But I will bet you honest-to-FSM real-world cash that there's any number of projects where Drumpf has gone into it knowing ahead of time that the goalposts would move. What shitbags like that count on is getting the contractor (again) balls-deep into the project, and then become very easily leveraged into absorbing most or all of the projected scope creep, just so they can (maybe) get paid for the original project they signed off on. The contractor's sunk cost is too large to just walk away from, and Drumpf knows it. And he can wait them out in court if they decide to sue, and both he and they know that as well.

So when you hear about someone who claims to be a super-duper-ultra-mega-bazillionaire, with so much fuck-you money that he just uses it to keep score anymore, it's particularly galling to listen to this piece of shit brag about fucking over small private contractors, driving them out of business in some cases. This is unconscionable; a person who does this sort of thing routinely is a fucking scumbag by nature, and should not be given the reins of any sort of power. This is all a game to him.

He, Drumpf claims that he knows when he's being overcharged, and pays accordingly. This, not to put too fine a point on it, is a LIE, and he knows it. Terms are generally agreed to upfront, and I can't imagine that even a half-assed shop like Drumpf's "Organization" doesn't put everything in the form of a legally binding contract, the first clause of which is generally SCOPE OF WORK. In other words, when the contractor signs the contract, he is legally agreeing to fulfill a specified, mutually agreed upon list of tasks and services, upon which payment is contingent. If the contractor doesn't fulfill that set of obligations, he has no right to expect full (or even partial, in most instances) payment. The job is either done, or not. Obviously, the contractor knows all this, and plans accordingly.

Fuck. Why am I spelling this out like a tweed-patched Business 101 prof addressing a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears freshmen? You already know all this. EVERYBODY knows all this. Drumpf fucks over these contractors not because they overcharged him and he's fucking them in return, but because he can, because it's fun and amusing for him.

He's like a little kid torturing ants with a magnifying glass, except these are human beings with lives, homes, families, businesses driven into destitution by a miserly old bastard who has more than enough money to pay them for services rendered, but simply chooses not to. He has enough lawyers to wait them out, and he knows that they know it, so he settles for pennies on the dollar, while these small businesses try to figure out how to make their next payroll now that Fuckface Von Clownstick has welshed on yet another legally binding agreement. Hell, he's got 4,000 lawsuits in court right now, what's another?

Back (at long last) to the original question -- so if the campaign is not spending the money on ads, then what are they spending it on? If the campaign continues its freefall and explodes on the launch pad, does the unspent money get returned to the donors? The answer to that is at the end of the paragraph immediately above.

At the beginning of this post, I asserted that there were two roads to pursue in following the Drumpf Drain, the siphoning of cash from gullible, deserving rubes. The first road ended up being much more fruitful than I supposed at the outset; I enjoyed the manufacturing world greatly and miss it dearly. There is nothing like producing something that people can use and enjoy. When people abuse that -- particularly when a cornerstone of their stump speech revolves around how and why "we don't make anything anymore," it's becomes very personal.

It should be personal to the cult followers; after all, many of them probably came from the same blue-collar manufacturing background that I did. I have no idea why they're falling for his transparently false, cynical argument. But they are.

At any rate, the second road is completely different, and probably as long. We'll tease that one out in the next post.

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