Saturday, October 15, 2016

Daniel Horowitz on how "Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Pro-Wrestling". How the fake fight is debasing American Politics.

Daniel Horowitz laments to his audience how Conservatives have forsaken their ideals, engaging in rhetorical fights that have the appearance of conviction whilst not actually standing up for traditional principles.

CONSERVATIVE CONSCIENCE | Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (1m 27s) What we have going on nowadays is a phony conservative party, a phony Presidential nominee, a phony conservative media... where you basically have a false flag operation where everyone's yelling and fighting. There's a lot of acrimony but when you peel back what's going on they're fighting over nothing...
That's today's topic -- Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling. WWE!
You see the bodyslams and the chairs, knocking the guy's heads in. This and that, all the noise but its fake, there's nothing going on. That's exactly what today's political discourse is. Today's political reality is. And I want to go through the news of the day, what's really important for Conservatives to focus on and through that we'll come to the conclusion that the Republican Party on the Presidential level, the Congressional level and at the Conservative Media level engage in a fake fight with the Left when it really matters and how it debases who we are and moves the contours of the political debate inexorably to the left and also into the gutter...
We are everything the left is, minus some change. Minus some pennies... this is not just on fiscal policy. This is on who we are as people. This is on morality, this is on culture. This is who we are. This phony, binary fight where everyone gets wrapped up in -- "Oh man, everything's going to hinge on what happens". Its all fake. Its all fake wrestling... lots of fireworks in that debate. How many policy statements were really in contention? How much did they really disagree on?
Lots of insults traded. But over what? Because you're the Red Team and I'm the Blue Team so we have to fight...
The phoniness accentuated this Presidential Election as both parties promote deeply flawed and unfavourable nominees. Policy wise both candidates are more centrist than their base would prefer whilst conversely representing the most partisan figurehead imaginable for their opposition. A tricky balancing act for any would-be supporters.

The gravitational force this election has undoubtedly been Donald Trump, a unique political animal. A celebrity businessman with wrestling bona fides. He has leveraged his sturdy following and "Crash TV" appeal to commandeer the GOP and the media. Arguably the entire political process. Writer Virginia Heffernann offers her take on how a seasoned statesman like Hillary has had to bend to this pehnomenon albeit a political novice
TRUMPCAST | The Boys on the Bus
VIRGINA HEFFERNAN: (5m 23s) In this great book from years ago called the 'Epistemology of the Closet' by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick... There's this wonderful moment where she talks about bilingualism and the dominant position of someone who only speaks one language, even one dialect the way Trump does. This coarse dialect that he has.

She cites [US President] Reagan and [French President] Mitterand. Mitterand was super-worldly and spoke French and English. Reagan only spoke English and so they always negotiated in English, so Mitterand's always in his second language. And Trump always gets to talk like this and everybody else -- because most women are familiar with this idiom. Hillary Clinton is certainly familiar with this idiom but has had to completely abandon her way of talking and her way of comporting herself to have a conversation on this level
JACOB WEISBERG: Right, he defines the terms of the debate
Jacob Weisberg expands on the point in a later episode, citing how Trump's competitors resorted to mimicry as his brash presentation proved a winning formula for the primary
TRUMPCAST Extra: The "Grabfest Post Debate Special" Edition
JACOB WEISBERG: (14m 46s) There's the Marco Rubio example, I mean he's [Trump] trying to drag you down to his level. If you respond to him at his level, although it could be satisfying in the moment and everybody kind of wants it. Its almost definitely a mistake because at that point people are saying "Oh, the problem is both candidates -- its this campaign, the campaign is disgusting." and to refrain from being disgusting and respond to someone who's treating you vilely is really hard and takes a lot of discipline
Jacob and Daniel have divergent political interests but raise similar concerns about the lowering standards of American Politics
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (20m 18s) Imagine if all of Talk Radio, if all the internet sites, if all the concerns people are focused on would focus on what's important. Would lead a movement that's important. Would lead a movement that we can be proud of. Instead this is what we've become. Its all this, this is WWE. Its all an entertainment now. Its all entertainment business. Complete nonsense, this whole thing is immoral. But this is how you shift the contours of the debate permanently... If we don't fundamentally change the movement, if we don't fundamentally change the game we've already lost anyway...

We've become desensitized because again the Left is so evil and immoral but the more immoral they get we can always point to the fact we're one or two steps less immoral than them so you can create a fake fight over that. "You're this and I'm that. Well you did this". Meanwhile the more immoral and evil they get, the more immoral and evil we get. Cuz we keep getting schlepped over with them. So by engaging in that fight you're almost validating and consummating that degree, its like that ratchet theory we talk about. You hone in, you lock it in. You can only keep moving forward but not backwards. You already lost it.
Sadly the spectacle and team sports aspects of American Politics are big drawcards for casual watchers. Trump has capitalised on his name recognition and showmanship to deliver an engaging product, electrifying his populist base and enthralling everyone else. Whilst the debasing of political discourse has depressed donor funding, the "Trump effect" has increased public engagement and become a boon for News Networks. In Combat Sports anything goes when you're selling a fight, competitors are forgiven for throwing missiles and brawling at Press Conferences because promoters know all publicity is good and whets the audiences' appetite.

Trump has been a perfect ratings vehicle, his thirst for attention driving his popularity, the "fight" between Trump and the Media mutually beneficial. Tapping into the Reality TV zeitgeist, if a Presidency doesn't pan out the "Trump Show " could spin-off into a Media Empire. Wyatt Cenac once said on the 'Daily Show' -- "You think politicians wanna win their arguments when all they really wanna do is keep having them. They know arguments are interesting, they energize voters, they keep the money flowing in.".

Some have played "chicken" with Trump because he represents a foil for the GOP. As people like Jacob Weisberg and Daniel Horowitz have asserted, we might be allowing the "Trump Show" to take down American Politics altogether.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The 2016 Vice Presidential Debate Wallpaper: Tim Kaine VS Mike Pence

NXT Arrival: Mike Pence VS Tim Kaine
Keepin' it 1600 | Ep. 38: VP Debate React and State of the Race

JON FAVREAU: (16m 50s) It was jarring to see normal candidates talking right?
TOMMY VIETOR: In full sentences about issues
FAVREAU: The same way that watching the Clinton debates in the Primaries against Bernie were sort of boring and a totally different feeling than that involving Trump. This had that feeling again. Normal Politics was suddenly back. We were talking about issues. It was almost depressing because as entertaining as the other thing is, its horrible.
VIETOR: What it makes you realise is that there is hope for us after Trump. We can get past Trump. Politics is still really f*cked up but we can go back to debates like that. Except there is a lot of lying, lying with impunity is still a problem
The only Vice Presidential debate took place Tuesday, sandwiched between the First and Second Presidential showdowns. Most political watchers see the VP debates as only marginally consequential especially in contrast to the outsized personalities involved at the top of the ticket, the Main Event. Being that both Hillary and Donald are the oldest nominees to contest for the Presidency some lip service was paid. The VP debate offered a seemingly singular opportunity for the public to be introduced to Mike Pence and Tim Kaine head to head with under 40 days left before voting.
The general consensus among pundits was that Mike Pence won, largely on presentation. He was measured in his tone, sidestepping many of the charges Tim Kaine laid at his feet. Kaine whilst being more substantive was mostly dismissed due to his constant interruptions of Pence and the moderator, a mishandling of the permitted "discussion" format. Mike Pence' credentials as a former Radio Talker often cited for his deftness on the stage.

Inforwars: Live feed of the VP Debate
LA Times: Scoring the Vice Presidential Debate
Several outlets employed the Combat sports analogy, de rigeur this election season and moving forward I suspect. Infowars used a boxing graphic to accompany their live election feed. The LA Times went with a Greco-Roman wrestling motif, complete with Judges' scorecards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

First Presidential Debate Wallpaper: PAYBACK

APF presents 'PAYBACK':
Presidential Debate I. Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
There's an adage in combat sports, "Styles make fights". Not unlike Rock–Paper–Scissors, attributes become advantages or impediments depending on what they're matched with. Trump's striking VS Clinton's resilience. His passion VS her poise. The Unorthodox VS the Seasoned. Business Outsider VS Political Insider. Reflex VS Preparedness. In the upcoming Presidential Debate, we'll finally see what shakes out from the "Styles Clash" between Republican Nominee Donald Trump and Democratic stalwart Hillary Clinton.

In the inaugural episode of the 'Race to the White House' podcast, Associate Professor Brendon O'Connor summarises the competing styles and why It's difficult to predict how it'll go down.

Race to the White House - Episode 1
BRENDON O'CONNOR: (18m 53s) There's two ways of approaching Politics. One way is to be very policy-oriented, which forces you to think about process and costings... and there's another way of seeing Politics as a symbolic business. That you're about making people feel good about themselves, that politics is very therapeutic. That you talk about America being a great place or making America great again. You talk about things that are to some extent fantastical, like "Change" or putting up a wall between United States and Mexico. And there's no real possibility that you could bring about a process really to get these things into action. They're about reassuring Americans, I like to call it Public Self-Help talk. They're about soothing people and saying that everything's going to be OK. We're still going to be a great or exceptional nation. Politics has gone along that path, every election in America since the 1970's. It's just gone along more and more in that regard.

Trump in some ways is the extreme end of that Therapeutic Politics that really overpromises on a sense of something that is illusionary, something that is a fantasy but its gonna soothe the American public. That is gonna sound reassuring or different.
Where Hillary Clinton is a throwback in some regards. She's a Policy wonk. She's someone where her clear strengths are when she talks about details and process and so you have quite the contrast...

How you campaign against Donald Trump as Hillary Clinton is very challenging and when you debate him as we'll see in the coming weeks is even more challenging because you're speaking a totally different language. You're not working on the same assumptions. You're not attempting to engage in Politics in the same way.
A strangely overlooked aspect of the upcoming showdown is the shared history between the Clintons and Trump. Whilst photos and stories surface about Trump's cordial relationship with Bill and Hillary, this history has been overshadowed by the polarised rhetoric of Election season. The Clinton's have been such an enduring force in American Politics that although they've become institutional punching bags for the masses, they've also calcified into allies amongst the elite. Hillary released an Ad quoting Donald Trump's praise for her before they were pitted as opponents.

You can peruse Trump's Twitter timeline for a trail of his enemies, anyone who's wronged him gets mentioned and pilloried. In person however, he remains affable and conciliatory. Trump and Jeb chummily low-fived despite relentless attacks in the Debates. Though he launched his campaign with contentious rhetoric towards Mexico, Trump was gracious towards Mexican President Nieto during their face-to-face. Trump employed a winning defense during the GOP Primary, reversing his coziness with Hillary into a spiel about Business buying Political access. Everything's fair game when you're selling a fight. It'll be interesting to see how real the bad blood is when they finally step in the ring.

Best friends, Bitter enemies:
Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
Watch how Wrestling sells a feud between former best friends, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The shared history heightens the drama and raises the stakes for their match. Their intimate knowledge of each other offers the possibility of deeper cuts and tangled motivations. In the Wrestling example we're keenly aware of the theatre in repurposing their relationship into a compelling feud. I wonder how much we'll sense from Hillary and Donald's friendship once they finally clash.

VIDEO: NXT Champion Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens tell their history

Mirroring the showdowns between Sami and Kevin. I'll be making Presidential Debate Wallpapers using the WWE PPV timeline, starting with 'PAYBACK'.

After Trump rival and Businessman, Mark Cuban tweeted he had front row seats for the First Presidential Debate. Trump, in true heel fashion threatened to put Gennifer Flowers alongside him. Flowers had an affair with Former President Bill Clinton whilst he was Governor of Arkansas.
Gennifer Flowers and Mark Cuban ringside at #HofDebate16
Update: Gennifer Flowers won't be attending the Debate. Trump's guests include a Benghazi attack survivor and Gold Star mother among others.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

'Review America' a limited podcast series on American Politics through the prism of Wrestling

Wrestling fans have a unique way of viewing the world. A perspective with elements from media studies or observational comedy, they see the superficial presentation whilst taking into account the layers of meta-reference and insider jargon. The culture has moved towards a better understanding of this through the popularity of 'The Daily Show' and the rise of independent media challenging and unpacking mainstream news.

Review America  – Episode 1: The RNC
Which brings us to today, where we can have an audience receptive to a show discussing American politics through the prism of wrestling. 'Review America: Wrestling with democracy' is a limited series podcast hosted on the 'Fight Network', a Canadian media station dedicated to combat sports. Hosted by Americans Brian Mann and Nate Milton, its a spin-off from a 2012 episode where Canadians John Pollock and Wai Ting departed from their regular format of reviewing Wrestling PPVs to investigating the compelling presidential showdown between nominees Governor Romney (r) and Senator Obama (d). Not unlike my own fascination with America's brand of politics as an outsider all those years ago. Host Brian describes the zeitgeist which birthed the show in the show's opening address:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
BRIAN MANN: (2m 37s) This really does feel like a convergence this year where a lot of the world is kinda becoming hip to the Pro-Wrestling way of doing things unfortunately. You and I, we obviously have no shame when it comes to liking pro-wrestling but its interesting how our entire society has kind of unknowingly adapted to the same framework of thinking. A couple of months ago the New York Times wrote a really great article... and I just want to share a quote from it...
'Is Everything Wrestling' by Jeremy Gordon
If a story is told well, if its history seems consistent, then the machinations putting it into place can be temporarily overlooked or turned into a fun story of their own. And why not? In the end, we're all marks for a world we want to believe in.
And I think that really puts this election into focus, the reason Nate and I are going to spend a couple of weeks and really months until this wraps up in November is because I think there is a uniquely pro-wrestling way of looking at this entire election. So this isn't going to strictly be a political show, we are going to be tying it into that. We will be viewing this through the framework of "Marks" and "Smarks" and "kayfabe"* and everything that I think our audience is conditioned to think and that's why we want to bring the show to you on this platform (The Fight Network) rather than putting it out through a different party. This is a show about Politics but for Wrestling fans even though we're not necessarily going to be making Ted DiBiase jokes every second.

*Glossary for wrestling jargon:
Mark - Fan who enjoys and consumes Wrestling at face value
Smark - Fan aware of Wrestling's artifice and appreciates its meta layers. Short for "Smart Mark".
Kayfabe - Preservation of the illusion that Wrestling is real
My blog's initial focus on the pundit class was because they were more compelling (read: entertaining) political personalities with arguably more influence on voters. They were unfettered as private citizens and not beholden to the usual journalistic constraints of objectivity and decorum. Pundits were establishing fiefdoms through their media empires, effectively fashioning their own voting blocs to leverage or rival the politicians.
This election, the rise of Donald Trump as the "rogue" nominee for the Republican party represents the convergence of wrestling, punditry andpolitics. With 10.8 million Twitter followers, coupled with his unrivaled ability to engulf "free media", Trump is a one-man noise machine.
Nate Milton expands:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
NATE MILTON: You talk about relating in the way you and I... look at pro-wrestling you can easily apply it to the world of politics and I think in this election in particular where you have two oversized characters. One in Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Donald Trump, the guy we're gonna be focusing on most this week on the Republican side. Someone who has dabbled in the world of pro-wrestling. He's a WWE Hall-of-Famer so he's no stranger to the world of "kayfabe" but I think its gonna be an interesting journey for us because as you've mentioned politics is something that we often talk about and to our credit its something we enjoy talking about and to the listeners' credit something that they didn't mind when we went down that road so I think we're gonna have a lot of fun and get to some insightful places... and I think the tagline "Wrestling with democracy" is very appropriate.
I founded this blog in 2007, at the close of George W Bush' presidency and gearing up to the 08' presidential race. The politics is wrestling meme had been forwarded in sprinkles but the "Pundit Fight" premise of the blog was only possible with the advent of Air America Radio. The Progressive radio network provided a stable of liberal talkers to counteract the "Right Wing Noise Machine". This allowed me to pit Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter against the likes of Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, the incubation of the politicised media marketplace today.

Its a telling state of affairs that a presidential nominee has usurped all of the pundits combined, not only in bombast but his ability to manipulate the media and the masses. Its worth noting that 'Review America' never had to mention the pundit class in relating American politics to wrestling. Donald Trump has seemingly made PunditFight obsolete by becoming the living incarnation of it. Sad.

Pundits TRUMPED!
Links to the 3 'Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton' episode so far:
- Episode 1: The RNC
- Episode 2: The DNC
- Episode 3: Diagnosing Donald

Friday, June 10, 2016

Was Donald Trump booed at the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction for his politics?

Trump Booed at WWE Hall of Fame Induction in Madison Square Garden
Donald Trump had to cut his acceptance speech short Saturday night during his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame after fans booed him at Madison Square Garden. Trump, a real estate mogul and longtime WWE supporter, was one of the five inductees into the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame during Saturday's ceremony. He was the only one to be booed.
Donald Trump's 2013 Hall of Fame speech
The WWE has considerable history with American Politics. Presidential Candidates have appeared in video packages addressing their coveted demographic. The White House also partnering with WWE for 'Get out the Vote' campaigns. Wrestling legend and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura plotted to leverage WWE's ground game for Ballot access on his idle Presidential bid. Vince's wife and WWE President Linda McMahon mounted an unsuccesful campaign for a Connecticut Senate seat as a Republican.

Considering Wrestling's populist appeal you might think Trump was warmly welcomed at his 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction. In fact he was booed. It's an unfair sample, the Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing is an absurd concept ripe for ridicule for fickle Wrestling fans. Whilst the ceremony was held in Trump's Liberal hometown New York, it wasn't immediately clear that a clash of politics was behind it.

When TV Guide pondered why Trump was booed at the Hall of Fame event, the handful of commenters offered that it was due to his idiocy. An incredulous charge as the foundation of Wrestling and Reality TV is taking High status idiots seriously. Even if that were the case with charisma being the currency in Wrestling, Trump should've been able to win the crowd over with his rhetoric. As former WWE commentator Jim Ross wrote "Trump is a natural-born communicator, a showman who seamlessly integrated into the WWE lexicon..."

Many sites at the time pondered as to why Trump was booed during their reporting of the event. The comments from 2013 offer a time capsule of the perceptions people had about Trump as a celebrity figure before this newfound gravitas as the Republican nominee.

"You're not even gonna let him [Trump] come out here before you boo him"
- Vince McMahon
WWE Hall of Fame 2013 (April 6th)
New York MetLife Stadium as part of WrestleMania 29

VINCE McMAHON: (2h 37m) There's so many ways I can describe Donald Trump. One that you may not be thinking of... Donald Trump is a Wrestlemania institution. It all started over a quarter of a century ago, it started when Donald hosted Wrestlemania IV at Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino...
When you think about it, second only to me Donald might very well be a great President of the United States
-- pause for a smattering of boos mixed with tepid applause --
Would I be a better President?
-- instant cheers followed by a "YES!" chant --
Donald's gonna find out soon that this is a very partisan crowd.
To show you how Magnanimous I am and how I never carry a grudge, its my distinct honor to introduce you to the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013
-- murmur of boos --
You're not even gonna let him come out here before you boo him
-- "No!" chants --
I can assure you Donald Trump knows exactly what he's getting into so Ladies and Gentleman, my friend Donald Trump
-- no reaction as Trump's "Money, money" entrance theme hits. Slight boos as he approaches mic --
"Woah!? Tough, tough people."
- Donald Trump
DONALD TRUMP: Woah! Tough. Tough people. Thank you very much everybody... Now Vince has been trying for the last 6 years to break our PPV record. He's had some great people on but you know what, it's not gonna happen. The same enthusiasm and love you have for me tonight, I feel it. That's why you all came down to watch me get my ass kicked and my head shaved but it didn't happen so we're happy about that.
Now I have to introduce a few you really great people. My son Eric Trump, stand up Eric.
-- boos begin to which Donald nervously laughs --
My daughter and a really big Television star she's become. Ivanka!
-- cheers from the crowd--
Aaaay! Come here, come here Ivanka. Oh finally they like somebody in the Trump family. Well this is Ivanka, we're very proud of Ivanka and she does great on the 'Apprentice'. Do we agree? Aaaaaiee, good. Ivanka you turned the tide, thank you...
This is a major honor... and I consider this my greatest honor of all. I do, I really do. So for Vince, Linda and the whole family I just want to thank you all and I really do love you people. Even the ones that don't like me so much. Have a good time, thank you so much.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca predicts Mark Cuban will one day be American President, ushered by the Trump phenomenon

Mark Cuban VS Donald Trump
Venture Investor Chris Sacca as guest on the Bill Simmons Podcast posed an interesting theory about what the Donald Trump phenomenon has ushered for Politics moving forward. Whilst most speculate on the fissure in the Republican Party, little has been written about the sudden viability of "Moneyed, Entertainment" candidates for future Presidential runs.

Ep. 95: Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca
CHRIS SACCA: (1h 15m 10s) Can I make a prediction for your audience, I think he will be the President of the United States

SACCA: Mark Cuban will be the President of the United States. I think Hillary wins this election and probably holds on for two terms and I think its an open field and Mark Cuban runs as a very moderate Republican and wins.
So think about it, Donald Trump. One of the things I've learnt that's just been wild from my own personal journey, watching Cuban and watching Trump. Is that the minute you're labelled a Billionaire in this country everyone takes everything you say as Bible. It's just you can do no wrong. They just think that guy's smart, he made a bunch of money, he must be a genius. And it's completely untrue obviously. You know a lot of Billionaires who are wrong about a lot of things, like I love Mark Cuban but he happens to wrong more than he's right and that's why we've become good friends.
But you listen to people who support Donald and you see that they eat the trough of his Bullsh*t but they think it's all inherently true because look the guy is a Billionaire because of these businesses. United States is a Country, it should be run like a business so let's hire a really successful businessman to do it. Cuban has all that. Watch the engagement he has in Twitter and you'll see that people take what he says as Gospel completely.

SIMMONS: So he's a benevolent Trump?
SACCA: That's exactly right. He's not an idiot and he actually does care. And he does read and he is convincible on some things.
I think America loves that guy. He's not an idiot. America takes him at his word cuz he's a Billionaire. I think he's got crossover appeal. He's the American dream. I'm putting it right out there, right now. Mark Cuban will be President of the United States.
Mark Cuban is a Tech Billionaire best known as the outspoken owner of NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks. He is featured on Reality TV series 'Shark Tank' where entrepreneur-contestants pitch to "shark" investors like Cuban and Chris Sacca in hopes of getting assistance for their projects.
Mark Cuban and Donald Trump have a complicated relationship, they've sparred in the past via Twitter. A feud as fanciful an inciting incident as that prescribed to Trump's own Presidential motives. Supposedly stung by President Obama's Birther counterpunch at the White House Correspondent's dinner, Trump as the theory goes is striving to get the last laugh by seizing control of the ultimate bully pulpit. Would Cuban run for President to one up Donald Trump?

VIDEO - Mark Cuban: Donald Trump 'Hasn't Learned And That's A Real Problem'
| MTP Daily | MSNBC
MARK CUBAN: (6m 16s) He's not the type of person that gets in there and grinds. Most entrepreneurs to be successful, most CEOs to be successful you have to grind. You have to get in there and do the work. 24 by 7 you always have to be learning, always be contributing. Always finding better ways. I just don't get that sense from Donald. 10 months later after he announced, he's just not the candidate where you just say "Wow. This guy has really picked up an in-depth understanding of the issues" and that is a problem. So I don't see him as a reflection of a CEO, a reflection of an entrepreneur. He's good at what he's good at but I don't know if that's applicable...

STEVE KORNACKI: I imagine though you've looked at Trump the last year, you've talked about all the rules of politics he's rewritten. Somebody of your background, its gotta look doable now maybe more than it did a year ago.
CUBAN: Without question. I think it did open a door, I think he's set a path for entrepreneurs, for business people. I just hope he doesn't shut it through his actions *laughs*
Just like Trump did by challenging President Obama to reveal his Birth certificate, Cuban's labeling of Trump as the "Seinfeld candidate" (a candidacy about nothing) is a play for No.1 Contender status. The backhanded compliment distances him from negative aspects of the Donald whilst not alienating his "flock". As an aspirational future contender, just being mentioned in the same breath as presumptive nominee Trump and the "American Presidency" sets up storylines for a Mark Cuban Presidential run down the track.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bill Simmons & Jon Favreau on Trump as a performer and American Politics as Pro-Wrestling

I came up with the American Politics is pro-wrestling analogy in 2007, finding commonality in the showmanship and psychology in both.
I primarily made comparisons in the world of punditry where similarities were more ripe. Personalities were larger and less constrained, the hours of daily TV and radio time providing a forum for feuds and angles to develop. Politicians cut their promos on the senate floor and on cable news shows, election season being the political equivalent of the run-up to Wrestlemania.

In the near decade since starting the blog, I've tracked instances where the media has used the analogy. For a time former wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was the perfect representation of the meme. This election cycle, the politics as wrestling analogy has turned into conventional wisdom as Donald Trump rampages his way to the GOP nomination. A WWE Hall-of-Famer, reality TV star and political influencer, Trump as Presidential candidate has distilled the meme into a winning formula for ratings and votes.

The Bill Simmons Podcast | Ep. 75: Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer
JON FAVREAU: (10m 24s) My theory on Trump is, he's basically what you'd get if you had someone who just watched cable news all day, specifically FOX and listening to right wing radio
BILL SIMMONS: Like if TV created a candidate or had a baby
FAVREAU: He knows just enough. Because its all surface level, its all bad news. Its all about how everyone in Washington on both parties are a bunch of crooks and liars. Its all punditry. Its all talking about poll numbers. This is what he does. He's better at political punditry and reciting poll numbers and reciting who's up and who's down and all that kind of stuff than he is talking about issues. And you could see like in the debate last night, every time you press him past... He's like an inch deep and a mile wide on knowledge on just about everything. So you press him more than 5 or 10 seconds on any given issue. He can't, cos he doesn't know.
'Sports Guy' Bill Simmons is a wrestling fan with the privilege of recording the first podcast with a sitting U.S. President (Maron later recorded the first long-form podcast). In conversation with fellow Holy Cross alumni Jon Favreau, former director of speechwriting for President Obama they illustrate the politics as wrestling analogy and how Trump perfectly embodies it.

Bill Simmons at SummerSlam 2015,
with President Obama recording a podcast in the White House.
BILL SIMMONS: (20m 15s) I'm not positive what the debates are supposed to accomplish because its a totally unnatural interaction and somebody like Trump who's a performer, he's such a better performer than anyone else on stage and he's just blowing everyone away in these debates until they finally started coming back at him. But in the first couple of ones, he was just being a bully and it worked
JON FAVREAU: Trump has realised what most candidates, including my old boss Barack Obama never realised which is that they are complete performances, these debates. Obama was terrible in debates for a long time. He got better during the primary the more he did them...

SIMMONS: Why was he terrible? Was he overthinking it?
FAVREAU: Because he thought they were on the level. And he told us that. I though you get up there and debate issues with other people
SIMMONS: ...And it's pro-wrestling
FAVREAU: *agreeing* And it's pro-wrestling
SIMMONS: You're grabbing the mic and you're yelling at Stephanie McMahon, getting the crowd going
FAVREAU: and the way you have to, the way you're taught to answer a question in the debate is soundbite first, main message and then you sort of go backwards. So its not like you answer a real question where you build a logical argument from beginning to end which is what Obama does. He's a professor, a lawyer. In a debate you yell, scream, you ignore the question. It's WWF.
SIMMONS: *imitating Trump* "That's why Marco, that's why you're losing". Its like your opener. "That's why Ted Cruz is a liar". This is my point on that.
FAVREAU: That's like Trump the pundit again too right? The best moments in the debate is when he just says what everyone on cable has been saying anyway. "You're at the end of the stage Jeb because you suck".

SIMMONS: That's one of the few defensible things about what Trump's done these last few months. The debates are ludicrous anyway. They are pro-wrestling and everybody kinda danced around it and Trump was the first one that was like - This IS pro-wrestling!
FAVREAU: Right, I'm just gonna go with it.
SIMMONS: Insulting everyone and that's how you win this. His messages are basically just this big, black and white headline. This, that, this. You're a liar, You're a jerk. You're losing
FAVREAU: Low energy
SIMMONS: You're low energy. Its really tough. Poor Jeb Bush he just didn't know what to do
FAVREAU: Well Jeb is just -- he looked like a candidate from another era... the last time he had campaigned was a decade ago maybe. So he had been out Politics for so long he hadn't realised how much it had changed. So he still thought that people were having debates like they used to back in the day. He was so not prepared for what Trump was...
Donald Trump has been welcomed by some as Frankenstein's monster revealing what the GOP has become. In a similar vein, Trump's rise has also laid bare the values of News Entertainment. The Presidential Donald persona birthed from the resentments of the Tea Party and the bombast of cable news. Both astutely manipulated by Trump as an apparatus to deliver him to the White House.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Is there a Donald Trump exit strategy?: "Arrive, Raise Hell, Leave." Twitter Wallpaper

Twitter Header graphic:
Donald Trump "Arrive, Raise Hell, Leave."
As soon as Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring, some speculated whether his campaign was a publicity stunt.
Would You Rather: GOP Edition
STEPHEN COLBERT: That's right, Trump's voters will not leave. I think that represents a huge problem for one person - Donald Trump. Cuz when I hear this man say nothing can stop me from winning, not even shooting people. I don't hear appeal to voters, I hear a cry for help. Let's remember here's a guy who ran for President to promote probably a Reality show or his mattress brand or his line of premium ex-wives and now he looks like he might actually win... cause Donald Trump can't possibly want to be President. Its the hardest job in the world.
Whilst Trump has expressed his desire to be President and "Win for America" as far back as '88. Some contend his primary fixation is on winning, garnering the acclaim that comes with it but not undertaking the job itself. Donald has run an unprecedentedly autonomous campaign, seemingly writing his own tweets and speaking extemporaneously on the stump. Could Trump sidestep the shackles of bureaucracy and become Kingmaker instead?
The Donald Trump / Ted Cruz Love Affair
SAM SEDER: (1m 04s) What's even more likely in my mind is that Trump may essentially all throw it behind Cruz
CLIFF SCHECTER: I can see that. I don't think he really wants this. I think he wants it right until he gets nominated and has to worry about traveling around with the Secret Service and stuff that he has no control over and he doesn't have the freedom to be as much of a jackass as 100% Donald Trump could be and I think you're right. You could see him right at that moment saying, if you supported me and you believe in what I believe - you have to support Ted Cruz.
SEDER: I mean who knows? One thing Trump is determined to do is that Jeb Bush does not become the nominee. He seems to have a genuine, deep-seated dislike of this guy... It's all speculation at this point... I think Trump would much rather appoint the President essentially than actually have to do the work
SCHECTER: ... and not have to bother with all the crap himself but he could be the guy the TV asks about it constantly
Sam and Cliff's suggestion of anointing Ted Cruz was well before Donald's success in the debates and subsequent Primary victories. This was also at a time when both current frontunners were still amicable with each other. Running with the theory that Trump is after an exit strategy, Comedian Louis C.K. offers his own target for a possible Trump handoff.
Louis C.K. Slams Trump: "The Guy is Hitler," "We Are Being Germany in the '30s"
A vote for Trump is so clearly a gut-vote, and again I get it. But add a little brain to it and look the guy up. Because if you vote for him because of how you feel right now, the minute he's president, you're going to regret it. You're going to regret it even more when he gives the job to his son. Because American democracy is broken enough that a guy like that could really fuck things up.
Former APF Pundit cum Late Night Talk show host, Stephen Colbert continues to offer the best psychoanalysis on what might be driving the mogul.
VIDEO: Trump, Pile Of Meat 2016
STEPHEN COLBERT: I think if we're honest, I think I know what's going on here. Donald is just insecure. I don't know if Donald even wants to be president. The guy just needs constant validation, that's clear and isn't that what all of us want? Love. Just love and maybe steak. And if we just give that to him maybe he'll go away. So Mr Trump, Mr Trump, Mr Trump and I know you're watching because I said your name three times I just want you to know that everyone thinks you're cool. OK. You're smart, you are good at companies and business-ing and no doubt you're hung like a pool noodle...
Whilst offering no prescription, Bill Maher imagines how Donald Trump's reign might end. No doubt to the delight of many from both sides of the aisle.
Maher Fantasizes About Trump Dying on Stage, Jokes About Cheney Dying
BILL MAHER: Although, here's a little bit of hope, you know. I know, nothing ever seems to stop this guy no matter what you throw at him. You ever see the movie War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise movie, right? That gives me hope because, if you remember the movie, the space invaders are just totally kicking our ass. I mean, they got their tripods, they got the forcefields around them, nothing can stop them, and then they just die.
They just die. Nobody does anything. They just f***ing die. I mean, it's like they just got to page 100 in the script and went, "F*** it, they just die." Have Morgan Freeman come and do a voiceover. They get the flu or something.
Update: (March 30)
Trump is winning far too much for him to find a clean exit. Could a likely brokered convention be his last out?
New theory among anti-Trumpers: He's deliberately sabotaging his campaign
That theory, the "honorable exit," worked out well, didn’t it? Markay’s version is really just the "honorable exit" in the form of a brokered convention. 
Update 2: (May 26)
Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, what now for "honorable exit"? Why not just license the Trump brand to a Republican White House and get the VP to do the heavy lifting:
Trump Adviser: Trump Will Outsource Being President to His VP
Being president of the United States of America is, to put it mildly, hard work. It's an incredibly taxing job that involves making an untold number of decisions—a few big and splashy, the vast majority small-bore and likely to go unnoticed unless something goes catastrophically wrong—that will impact millions and millions of people. Setting aside the power and the prestige, the day-to-day job doesn't sound like one Donald Trump would actually want. And, according to his top campaign strategist, he doesn't.
Update 3: (June 22)
Rachel Maddow expands on Colbert's premise that Trump is doing all this to promote his brands and line his pockets
VIDEO: Donald Trump's Campaign A Cover For Moneymaking Scheme | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC
RACHEL MADDOW: (4m 26s) These are not the kinds of expenditures you would expect to see from someone who's actually running a campaign for President who intends to win the Presidency. The expenses, when you look at what the Trump campaign is actually spending its money on. What they're actually spending time doing. Its more like a Concert Tour. Its more like a promotional tour for a Celebrity who's hawking something than it is a campaign where you need people to go out and vote for you in November...
Its a racket. It is not necessarily designed to win the election -- I don't know if its not necessarily a problem to win the election -- think of the merchandising opportunities in the Oval Office? You can tell that winning *might* happen but its not the aim. It would be the byproduct of what is the principle effort, which is to make money.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Quotes compilation: GOP Debates as Pro-Wrestling matches

VIDEO: Trump Turns GOP into Pro Wrestling  
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: (0m 18s) What went on in Houston Thursday night gave me a flashback. Early 1970s, Saturday mornings, our Family rec room. My brother and me on bean bag chairs watching Pro-Wrestling... Good guys VS Bad guys, mudslinging and foreign objects. Well, guess who learned on those mats too, Yes the classy Trumpinator. And so it was in Houston, Rubio and Cruz tagteamed the villainous Trump but their victory was short-lived as the Trumpinator pulled someone else into the ring thankfully not wearing tights. Former arch-rival Chris Christie was suddenly his sidekick but can anything stop Trump's ascent before this episode of Wrestlemania wraps up on Tuesday?

Kurtz: Trump controls the media (and bumps me!)
HOWARD KURTZ: (1m 52s) The debate was fascinating because even though Rubio finally did what the press wanted him to do and attack Trump. They went toe to toe and Cruz did some attacking as well. There was so much yelling and so much crosstalk and these guys talking over each other. It was one eccentric moment after the other, Wolf Blitzer had utterly lost control of the debate at several points. I think that blunted the whole thing. I think many of these attacks cancelled each other out because it was such a professional Wrestling match.

Carson: Moderators didn't want to gain control of GOP debate
ERIC BOLLING: We just got out of a raucous debate sir. What are your thoughts? How did you do tonight?
BEN CARSON: Well I did fine with the few questions I was asked and the few opportunities I had to weigh in. But it was clearly a debate that was aimed at World Wrestling Federation. There was no interest in hearing about the actual issues and what the solutions are
BOLLING: Boy there was a lot of fighting. The middle three especially Trump/Rubio/Cruz going back and forth. Did the debate moderators lose control of that a bit?
CARSON: I don't think they wanted to gain control because I think they were enjoying the fight. They probably figure it was increasing their ratings
BOLLING: Let me call you on that sir. At one point, I think it was you that said "Could someone please fight with me?"
CARSON: It seemed that was the only way you were going to get airtime if somebody attacked you. It's pretty sad that we've gotten to this point in our Country. Where we're talking about a Presidential debate. Where we're talking about electing a President and we're not talking about people's real policies. What do they believe? Why do they believe that? Don't the people deserve to know that?

Rubio changes tactics, tries to 'out-Trump' Trump
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: (2m 04s) Everybody in Stevens Point is watching and thinking "We're all nuts here". They watched that punching back and forth. I wonder if they're thinking this is great democracy working or this is just a bunch of nutty people yelling insults at each other going way off the rails.
CONGRESSMAN SEAN DUFFY: I think this is where the debate is today and if you wanna win and you're going to wrestle with a pig you're going to get dirty. Marco Rubio got dirty last night wrestling with Trump but he came out the winner and ate his lunch...

Deep rifts on display in 9th Republican debate
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what that was a horrible debate, I know it was like the most watched. Not only what was going on on-stage, I'm sorry the crowd was offensive.
WILLIE GEIST: I loved it
(panel laughs)
SCARBOROUGH: Of course you would. But it was so offensive you would have candidates halfway through their answers and they would start booing. It was like a Gladiator match...
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: It made me feel like I was a watching a Professional Wrestling match. These are important conflicts between these candidates that we need to tease out... it's not that these candidates don't need to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat on stage but something about the audience did give it more of a feel of watching a Professional Wrestling match.

Rubio attacks on Trump too little, too late?
LELAND VITTERT: (1m 10s) Rubio continues to pound on Trump, "Conman, Con-artist and everything else. Hair Force One". Too little, too late by Marco or does he have Trump rattled?
PETE SNYDER: I was half expecting John Cena to pop out of the back screen, classic WWE style. I think this has gotten a little out of hand Leland and I think it is a little too little, too late. We had months and months to see who could be the alpha and who could stand up to Trump and noone did. I can understand the strategy of Marco trying to make it a two-person race but this thing is all but over on the Republican side.

Politics is wrestling, Quote roundup (2010)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ducking Donald Trump with Phil and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

Not all Pay-Per-Views in Wrestling are marquee events. Most are stepping stones that serve to ratchet up storylines for an eventual pay-off. Main events for marquee PPVs will feature the dueling contenders mano a mano, the result leaving no ambivalence as to who came out on top. The placeholder PPVs leading up to this conclusion will feature gimmick matches and fights buffered by other contestants that allow for muddled resolutions leaving viewers wanting more. Examples include rivals pairing up with Celebrities, working alongside new partners and sometimes even each other. The aim, to tease proximity and conflict but delaying gratification. The clean finish, the full stop. Anticipation building is the product, when done well every moment in Wrestling is calculated to build hype.

VIDEO: Will Donald Trump show up to the Fox News debate?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: (3m 41s) I think the prize as Trump defines it always is being the center of attention. Calculated or not -- and I think most likely it is-- is going to concentrate all the attention and all the discussion between now and when you go on the air Thursday at 9 on whether he's going to show up or not. So between now and then he's the story which he's managed to do, brilliantly since June. Always creating new storylines, look the genius of a Reality TV is that it has to constantly be changing. You can't have the same storyline week after week or the show dies.
He kept his going for 14 years. He keeps changing the story, when he makes an outrageous statement and he's waiting for incoming. He makes another outrageous statement so that all the attention is focused on the second. He's used that --I think again brilliantly-- for 6 months to manoeuvre himself to the top.
With a week out before the Iowa Caucus, polls consistently show the GOP race is ostensibly between two people - Donald Trump and Ted Cruz with Marco Rubio a distant third. The upcoming Fox News/Google Debate, the sixth of its kind for the GOP still fields 7 contestants. At best the protracted "job interview" gives voters a large sample to gauge a Candidates' temperance and fortitude. At worst its a fatiguing ceremony that primarily serves as a cash cow for the 24 hours News Media.

In the WWE, there are 5 marquee PPVs spaced out over the year. As such, storylines are paced so big events occur in time with these dates. The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania have historically been must-watch viewing for Wrestling fans to start the year. Sandwiched by these two powerhouses is the 'Fastlane' PPV. I've used this as the template for my latest wallpaper.

'American Pundit Fighting' presents Ducklane
Celebrity Tag Team match: Ted Cruz and Phil Robertson
VS Donald Trump and Willie Robertson
Chief rival Ted Cruz capitalised on Donald Trump skipping the debate by hatching a #DonaldDuck meme with a 'Ducking Donald' page on his Campaign website. Earlier this week, conservative Reality TV stars, Phil and Willie Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' split their vote by endorsing each of the GOP frontrunners.

VIDEO: Phil and Willie Robertson open up about their endorsements

The "Duck Lane" refers to Donald Trump's bold move to parlay his frontrunner status into a powerplay that could either catapult him into a league of his own or derail his campaign. Gleaming from another set of headline-grabbing Trump antics, former APF Pundit Stephen Colbert noted
Would You Rather: GOP Edition
STEPHEN COLBERT: That's right, Trump's voters will not leave. I think that represents a huge problem for one person - Donald Trump. Cuz when I hear this man say nothing can stop me from winning, not even shooting people. I don't hear appeal to voters, I hear a cry for help. Let's remember here's a guy who ran for President to promote probably a Reality show or his mattress brand or his line of premium ex-wives and now he looks like he might actually win... cause Donald Trump can't possibly want to be President. Its the hardest job in the world.
Win or lose, Trump has controlled the narrative allowing him to spin the result to his advantage. Even giving him the opportunity to exit the entire Presidential race while preserving his aura. Let's see how this plays out.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

National Review "Against Trump" wallpaper: The GOP 2016 Royal Rumble

National Review "Against Trump" wallpaper: The GOP 2016 Royal Rumble
A new Trump wallpaper inspired by the upcoming WWE Royal Rumble. Dubbed 'One versus All', reigning Champ Roman Reigns is tasked with defending his title against the 29 other entrants. A stipulation created by WWE Establishment to strip him off his power.

National Review (Feb 2016): 'Against Trump' issue
Mirroring this storyline, conservative journal 'The National Review' published a special issue arguing "Against Trump". Featuring 22 prominent conservatives outlining their concerns for Trump as GOP nominee, headlined by APF pundit Glenn Beck and notables like Michael Medved and "top heel" William Kristol.

Donald Trump has already hit back by dismissing the relevance of the magazine whilst feigning concern. A classic Trump retort.
Whilst Glenn Beck has been actively warning his conservative viewers and counterparts of Trump, this latest assault might have awakened the GOP frontrunner and spun off a potentially juicier Feud. No doubt Trump will eventually go after Beck's own Media Empire and challenge its influence and financial standing. For now, the new program was teased with this promo on the "crying Glenn Beck"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Montreal Screwjob of GOP Politics: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

A wallpaper for the Calgary-born Ted Cruz inspired by legendary wrestler Bret Hart. The Hart Family are arguably the First Family of Calgary.

Ted "Hitman" Cruz wallpaper
The two GOP frontrunners who some speculate will ultimately run in the same ticket come the Presidential elections are locked in fierce battle for the Nomination. Donald Trump has recently soft-pedalled the same "Birther" charges he championed against President Obama.

VIDEO | Rush Limbaugh LOLs at Trump-Cruz Birther-ghazi

Entertained by the disingenuous issue, Rush Limbaugh recaps the brouhaha. Largely a misdirection ploy by Donald Trump in light of tightening Poll Numbers in Iowa.
VIDEO | Birther Sequel: Trump dings Cruz's citizenship
DONALD TRUMP: I just know that it's being questioned all over and a lot of people are asking me that question... All I know is that a lot of people are talking about. I hope it's not so, I hope it doesn't come about but people are worried that if he weren't born in this Country -- which he wasn't, he was born in Canada and he actually had a Canadian passport along with the US passport until just recently. Like within the last couple of years -- So I don't know what it all means. I know that people are talking about it. The problem is that if the Democrats bring a lawsuit, the lawsuit could take years to resolve and how do you have a candidate where there's something over the head of the party and that individual. So I hope it wouldn't be the truth, I hope that wouldn't be what it is.
Ted Cruz dismissed the charge by tweeting a 'Happy Days' clip of Fonzie jumping the shark, "I'm not going to engage in this and the reason is simple, there are far too many serious issues facing this country... what the American people are looking for is whose prepared to be Commander-in-Chief? Who has the seriousness, who has the judgment, who has the knowledge, who has the clarity and vision. Who has the strength and resolve?".

Daily Show presenter Trevor Noah quipped of this turn of events "I didn't know that this shit could happen to Republicans as well... This sh*t is insane! No, no, you've got to understand — because I didn't know that this shi*t could happen to Republicans as well. Like, I thought Republicans were the ones who do this, and not the ones that get this done to them."

Ted Cruz, judging by the cheers at the latest GOP debate might have put this issue to bed.
VIDEO | Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Clash at the Fox Business GOP Debate
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Clash at the Fox Business GOP Debate
TED CRUZ: (40s) I'm glad we're focusing on the important topics of the evening. Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had his lawyers look at this from every which way and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this "Birther" issue. Now, since September the Constitution hasn't changed but the Poll Numbers have and I recognise that Donald is dismayed that his Poll Numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear under longstanding US Law, the child of a US Citizen born abroad is a naturally born citizen...