Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: The Troll Candidate

Trump as troll was referenced in the Guardian piece I previously cited.  Here's an excerpt from Bruce Sterling's annual state of the world posts at The Well in 1/16, which links Putin and Trump (months before this became a thing) while defining the essence and practice of trolling (the bolding and stuff in red are my only contribution):

"Putin knows there's no way to justify Crimea, so he's got a two-fold strategy. A, just hang on until the adversaries get tired of complaining and sanctioning, and B, undermine political will with just an amazing tidal wave of Kremlin-troll bullshit. Just use
cheap digital media to lie, distort, deny, dismiss, around the clock, methodically, endlessly. The point to trolling is not to win the argument. It's to muddy the waters so much that nobody can drink.

*With previous forms of media, if you blatantly lied all the time
you'd be shamed out of it by the gatekeepers, but if there are no
media gatekeepers, then you can troll. [Hence Trump's war on the media, at least partly.  They're calling him on lies, as gatekeepers.]It's information warfare under conditions of modern Internet Counterrevolution.

*You try to keep as much order in your local media as you can, and
then you recruit network foot soldiers to hand-throw dirt-bombs into
everybody else's media. You won't convince them that your course is
just and right (because it's not), but maybe you can paralyze their
political will. Get inside the ol' OODA Loop there; disrupt the
adversary's ability to observe, orient, decide and act.

*I think that describes what Putin is doing, and it's not stunningly
weird or a failure on our part to sympathize with him. The guy's
from the intelligence services. Spooks by their nature are very
keen on media dirty-tricks, every spook apparatus does at least some
of it. He's got plenty of ardent neo-nationalist Russians to help
him troll; he doesn't have to fling the mud personally.

*What's different nowadays derives from the current structure of
media. This isn't 1955, you can't jam Radio Free Europe. But maybe
you can just fill up the airwaves with gaudy noise, lots of
meme-style chaff and smoke-bombs. Just throw troll-spaghetti in all
directions, see if anything sticks. You're not seeking tender
understanding from Americans, it's not a charm-offensive. It's the
new "Troll-State" approach. [On a macro level it's like the trolls that discourage actual discussion in comments sections, and ultimately, discourage participation.  I used to participate, in a few places, but now, never.]

*I never saw it done quite like this before, but I guess some
nation had to try it. It's like climate-denialism, basically.
However, instead of being run out of K-Street by Exxon-Mobil and the
coal interests to deter legislation, it's run from the Kremlin to
consolidate gains and deter the spread of a shooting-war.

*It's very contemporary. Donald Trump gets it. Trump and Putin
quite admire one another: they both think they know what it takes
nowadays, and that they've got plenty of it. Trump is the Troll

In this context it's significant that Trump's campaign is now a subsidiary of Breitbart.com, where he was praised as "king of trolling his critics." 

Later in the day addenda: NBC  weekly tracking poll of registered voters has Clinton at 50% Trump 42%. Her lead drops to 5 pts. with the other two candidates, although third partiers usually poll far better than they finish.

Florida: Clinton 52%, Trump 38% (Saint Leo University)

The WPost Morning Plum (after an interesting analysis of Trump's latest meanderings on immigration) :A new Roanoke College poll finds that Clinton now leads Trump by 55-36 in Virginia, and leads 48-32 in the four-way contest. Note this: Clinton was preferred by likely voters to Trump on a variety of issues, including the economy (50-43), terrorism (55-38), health care (57-33), race relations (66-21), immigration (56-36), foreign policy (64-28), and firearms policy (47-43)….Clinton was also seen as a having a temperament that is fitting for president (72) compared to 28 percent for Trump. Remarkable to see Clinton leading on guns in Virginia."

The Post also reports that: Through July, Trump's campaign has spent just shy of $7.7 million on Trump-branded products, including reimbursements to Trump-named surrogates."  This includes rent of offices in Trump Tower paid back to Trump--a rent that he quintupled in July, once campaign donations started coming in.  

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