Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Donald Trump: Ha, Ha, only serious

Computer programming culture (called "hacker" culture in the days before the term got co-opted by Black Hats; these were the original guys who figured out how to code supercomputers, the computers that landed Our Guys on the Moon, and who created the Internet) had a bunch of puns and plays on words.  This isn't surprising when you consider that most of these hackers were exceptionally bright and thought in ways very different from the mainstream.

You can find a huge collection of these in the Jargon File (highly recommended reading, but you are warned that you will lose hours reading through this).  Looking at the Donald Trump phenomenon, one of these sayings came to mind:

ha ha only serious
[from SF fandom, orig. as mutation of HHOK, ‘Ha Ha Only Kidding’] A phrase (often seen abbreviated as HHOS) that aptly captures the flavor of much hacker discourse. Applied especially to parodies, absurdities, and ironic jokes that are both intended and perceived to contain a possibly disquieting amount of truth, or truths that are constructed on in-joke and self-parody. This lexicon contains many examples of ha-ha-only-serious in both form and content. Indeed, the entirety of hacker culture is often perceived as ha-ha-only-serious by hackers themselves; to take it either too lightly or too seriously marks a person as an outsider, a wannabee, or in larval stage. For further enlightenment on this subject, consult any Zen master. See also hacker humor, and koan.
I think that Trump entered the campaign in a ha-ha-only-serious way: an ironic joke with a hard core of disquieting truth.  He was the only one on the stage who would say what the Political Class refused to say but what a large part of the Republic believed in their heart of hearts - but were not permitted to say in "polite society" because shut up, hater.

And every time he opens his mouth and emits what the Political Class deems to be a "gaffe", his poll numbers go up.  I don't think that anyone understands this, including Trump.  However, half of having luck is getting yourself in a position where you can be lucky, and my opinion is that Trump is almost certainly too opportunistic to let an opportunity like this pass.

I'm not the only one who seems to think this way.  Heartiste (WARNING!!! Site is extremely non politically correct and many people - including perhaps all of my Lady Readers - are very likely to be offended by other posts there.  This post is entirely safe except for Democrats) posts an email tip that he received from someone claiming insider knowledge about Trumps campaign:
I just got told by a friend that Trump hired the former lawfirm of the RNC.
Why does this matter?
Word on the street in Chattanooga (where Trump has and retains many high end connections) is that Trump went into the campaign with two intentions.
One was to ‘shake things up’.

The second was to raise his profile with Chinese investors for fund raising for a new casino.

He really didn’t intend to get big numbers in the US and didn’t intend to actually ‘go for the goal.’ Which was why he came in with no primary ground game. He didn’t intend to even get 5%.

With the recent success the question was ‘what now?’ Go for closing the deal or back out? Some of his more inflammatory comments were tests to see if he could flame out. And his poll numbers just rise.

If he has retained a political lawfirm it can only be to create a ground game.
There's a lot more about how this is very, very different from the way that the GOP Establishment runs campaigns.  If true, it may be game changing - it would certainly be very difficult for the Political Class to combat this.  Heartiste comments:
I don’t doubt Trump entered this race thinking he couldn’t win, and that his initial motivation was partly narcissistic (in fact all politicians are narcissists to a degree), partly self-aggrandizement. But then he saw that he could win, and that he had tapped a deep well of dissatisfaction among people by simply speaking his mind the way he likes to speak (i.e., not like a weeping p***y).
The level of dissatisfaction with the Political Class in this country is at epidemic proportions.  The Political Class has assumed that if they offer the populace no real choice, that they can continue with their binge of crony capitalism and keep getting away with their lies.  And now someone has tapped into that dissatisfaction in a way that they may not be able to thwart.

Is this a good thing?  Beats me - he seems a bit Caesarish for my taste.  But the screams of the Political Class (including the media, but I repeat myself) are deafening.  Remember, it's the kicked dog that yelps, and I have precisely zero sympathy for any of them.

The Dinosaurs sniff a change on the breeze and roar their defiance.


Old NFO said...

Regardless, it's going to be an interesting 16 months... :-) Actual 'problems' getting brought to light is never a bad thing in my opinion!

Comrade Misfit said...

Hve you read Scott Adams's piece on Trump?

Borepatch said...

Comrade Misfit, I hadn't seen that but agree with a lot of it. I'm still undecided - in some ways Trump looks like he's doing what Obama did in 2008 (Adam's point that people project their own desires onto him). On the other hand, and whether people like it or not, his Immigration proposal is pretty detailed.

And there's still a voice in the back of my head that whispers "American Caesar" whenever I see him.

BC said...

A little over a decade ago in MN, we had Jesse -The Noun- Ventura run for and win the Governor's seat.

It wasn't because he was a good candidate, or he had any great plan for MN. It was because many of us Minnesotans were absolutely sick and tired of all the reheated bullshit from both of the other candidates. The canned responses, the promises to not do anything that would rock the boat unless it helped them, the way both of the other candidates wanted to raise taxes for their pet projects; only question being how much and which project...

I see a little of this in Trump. He is not necessarily a good candidate, and won't necessarily be a good leader. He is saying a lot of the things that either of the main parties' anointed few won't dare to mention, and people are sick and tired of the same old garbage from both parties.

I doubt he will win it, but maybe actually addressing issues will help weed out some of the other weasels.

Paul Bonneau said...

The R primaries will take him out the same way they sidelined Ron Paul - except it will be harder to rig things because he's got piles more name recognition and money and is a better salesman. But they will still do it. In any case we are looking at a huge mess. I can't wait.

If he got through the primaries the only way to stop him would be assassination. Exciting times...