Just listen, just slow down

Just listen, just slow down April 16, 2024

• Back in 2022, after getting himself banned by Facebook and Twitter, Donald Trump launched his own social network, Truth Social. As Wikipedia notes, the site hasn’t grown much since then:

Trump Media has not reported the number of Truth Social users. Data aggregator SimilarWeb estimated their number of visitors per month at 5 million in February 2024 and the number of active users in the U.S. at 1 million per month. On March 25, 2024 … Truth Social had 277,000 U.S. visitors, while Reddit had 32 million.

That date, March 25, is significant because that’s the day that Trump Media & Technology Group went public, offering investors a chance to get in on the action with an initial stock price of $72 a share.

Three weeks later, the stock closed yesterday at $26.61. That’s not a dip in the price of a stock that’s been going up and down. It’s just been going steadily down. And then down some more. And then down again.

That’s bad news for some of Trump’s biggest supporters — people who jumped at the chance to put their retirement savings into a stock bearing his name:

Jerry Dean McLain first bet on former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social two years ago, buying into the Trump company’s planned merger partner, Digital World Acquisition, at $90 a share. Over time, as the price changed, he kept buying, amassing hundreds of shares for $25,000 — pretty much his “whole nest egg,” he said.

That nest egg has lost about half its value in the past two weeks as Trump Media & Technology Group’s share price dropped from $66 after its public debut last month to $32 on Friday. But McLain, 71, who owns a tree-removal service outside Oklahoma City, said he’s not worried. If anything, he wants to buy more.

“I know good and well it’s in Trump’s hands, and he’s got plans,” he said. “I have no doubt it’s going to explode sometime.”

For shareholders like McLain, investing in Truth Social is less a business calculation than a statement of faith in the former president and the business traded under his initials, DJT.

Even the company’s plunging stock price — and the chance their investments could get mostly wiped out — doesn’t seem to have shaken that faith. The company has lost $3.5 billion in value since its public debut last month.

As a business, Trump Media has largely underwhelmed: The company lost $58 million last year on $4 million in revenue, less than the average Chick-fil-A franchise, even as it paid out millions in executive salaries, bonuses and stock.

None of this, somehow, gets included in the current brouhaha among political scientists about whether it’s better to speak of “White rural rage” or “White rural resentment.” But I think it’s kind of relevant, especially since people like Jerry Dean McLain will turn around and direct their rage and/or resentment toward everyone other than the people who are openly swindling them out of their “whole nest egg.”

There’s a reaping/sowing symmetry here for the victims of Trump’s pump-and-dump. When people who have cheered and chanted in support of the Leopards Eating People’s Faces party are suddenly having their own faces eaten, it’s tempting to think that they’re just getting what they deserve. But God’s bodkin, man, if we all got what we deserved, then who should ‘scape whipping?

• This story is like a New Yorker cartoon come to life: “3 men stranded on a Pacific island were rescued by spelling ‘help’ with palm leaves.”

Photo from US Coast Guard

To really appreciate that story, look up the Pikelot Atoll on Google Maps and then see how long it takes you to zoom out far enough to see anything else on the map. The Coast Guard found these men in the middle of nowhere.

The Coast Guard is a good example of how Americans think (or half-think) about “the government.” They want it small and all but invisible, something they never have to think about or pay for. But they also expect it to be this massive, omnipresent thing that is capable of finding and rescuing them from anywhere in the world. The very same people who cheered Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich and all the Federalist Society judges striking down every regulation that corporations don’t like will also say things like “Well, if it was dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it.”

By which they mean something closer to “If it was dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it to me.

• O.J. Simpson, the NFL hall-of-famer, sometime movie star, and domestic abuser who killed two people with a knife, has died at age 76.

OJ’s death — like that of Jeffrey Epstein and David Koch and Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh and Henry Kissinger (finally!) — has prompted tons of funny jokes and laughter at those jokes. I haven’t yet seen the Very Serious People and our self-appointed Moral Betters tut-tutting about the response to OJ’s death the way they did about the response to the deaths of those lethally toxic wealthy men, which is odd given that his death toll and lives-ruined toll is way lower than theirs. Hmmm.

But as a reminder that speaking ill of predators is not just OK, but morally necessary, I’ll include these links again. If we don’t need them right now, we’ll need them soon enough because, like, Rupert Murdoch is 93.

• On the one hand, the Fictional Brands Archive is kind of fun.

On the other hand, there’s no entry for Morley cigarettes or for Hudson University, so it’s usefulness for Tommy Westphall studies seems limited.

• The title for this post comes from My Morning Jacket’s “Mahgeetah.” Weird name, pretty song.

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