There’s some evidence that we’re facing a government headed by an outrageously unqualified shit-gibbon who will be controlled through flattery and gaslights by a cabal of bible-humping, social program-slashing, regressive tax cut-advocating Republican pols to enact a Kansas-like economic and social governing blueprint. That would be disastrous for obvious reasons.
There’s also some evidence that we’re facing a government headed by an outrageously unqualified shit-gibbon who will be controlled through flattery and gaslights to implement an authoritarian kleptocracy aligned with white nationalist movements in Europe and resembling Putin’s Russia. Even more disastrous.
Or maybe Team Shit-Gibbon will manage to exceed expectations and create a hybrid of the two — lord knows the Republicans in Congress won’t stop them, not with the prospect of adding federal levers of power to the state levers that have successfully suppressed millions of votes. Karl Rove’s dream of a permanent Republican majority could come true at last, with suppressing and smearing conducted via federal agencies ensuring that dumb-as-dirt, compliant cocksplats like Steve King and Louie Gohmert can enable Trump, his spawn and vile hangers-on to loot the Treasury in perpetuity in exchange for hereditary seats in Congress.
Regardless of which reality shakes out of the chaos of the shit-gibbon transition shit-show, it’s incumbent upon us to bear witness to things that are not normal. Joshua Foust, former security analyst and current national security fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, compiled a list of not normal things yesterday. It’s so long I’m going to put it below the fold.
• Using your Presidential transition website to promote your own business properties is not normal.
• Calling for millions of federal employees to sign nondisclosure agreements apart from standard government forms is not normal.
• Blasting journalists with product placements for the labels your child, who is on your transition team, is wearing is not normal.
• Having a wide range of senior figures in your own political party distance themselves from your transition team, citing the profound irregularity of it and worrying about future ugliness, is not normal.
• Placing your children in charge of your business empire, then placing them on your transition team, then seeking top secret security clearances for them, is not normal. The conflicts of interest that this represents are almost too many to count, but at a basic level: you do not give someone with a financial interest to work against U.S. policy access to sensitive information — at all, ever.
• Putting one’s children into senior positions of a government is the behavior of a banana republic, not a constitutional democracy with strong institutions. This is not normal.
• For a president who ran on his business acumen to refuse to disclose his taxes to the public, which in turn denies anyone the ability to see if financial conflicts of interest are driving his policy decisions, is not normal.
• Asking if he can decline the President’s salary, so as to avoid paying taxes, is not normal.
• Owing hundreds of millions of dollars in business debt to a foreign bank and refusing to fully divest yourself from those finances is not normal.
• Ascending to the White House while your eldest son, who is also on your transition team, and for whom you also seek a top-secret clearance, seeks out seven-digit business deals in Russia, is not normal. When Russia then names the President elect an “honorary Cossack,” it is not normal.
• Asking a hostile foreign intelligence agency to hack into the emails of your opponent in the campaign is not normal. Refusing to comment while they expand those hacks into other institutions is not normal. Watching that same government’s propaganda network dramatically change its tone in order to benefit the incoming president is not normal. That this foreign government is also the subject of numerous investigations into the President elect’s improper business conduct is not normal.
• Threatening to cut off Europe from NATO if payment is not received, like a gangster demanding protection money, in a way that benefits said foreign government, is not normal.
• Chanting for the summary imprisonment of your political opponent despite repeated conclusions that she has committed no crime is not normal. Refusing to back down from that call to summarily imprison her is not normal. Essentially suggesting a show trial before you’ve even assumed office is not normal.
• Hiring an avowed white supremacist and proud antisemite to be the chief of strategy at the White House is not normal. That the new White House chief strategist has bragged, openly, of his desire to destroy the United States is not normal. That the cofounder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center raised money for this is not normal.
• Staff participating in authoritarian victim-blaming and antisemitic conspiracism is not normal. Collaborating with cable news channels in that antisemitic conspiracy about protests is not normal.
• When one of the new administration’s most senior proxies and spokesmen calmly discusses committing war crimes in the Middle East, it is not normal. When he is shortlisted for the Department of State — despite lobbying for terrorists who killed Americans, despotic regimes in the Middle East, and the tyrannical government of Venezuela — it is not normal.
• When that proxy is simply following in the footsteps of the new President-elect, who has called for reinstating torture and summarily executing the families of alleged terrorists, it is not normal.
• The leading candidate for the department of education (who himself has no background as an educator or in education policy) openly suggesting to censor speech on universities is not normal. Nominating an oil executive as the Secretary of the Interior is not normal. Nominating a climate change denialist funded by the oil industry to run the EPA is not normal. When the leading candidate for Defense Secretary having a long history of openly racist comments toward his own staff it is not normal.
• The FBI intervening decisively in the last week of the election to alter its outcome for one candidate is not normal. But the FBI refusing to address the president elect’s violation of sanctions against a communist country is also not normal.
• When a woman accuses a presidential candidate of having raped her as a child, but then refuses to go forward with her allegations because of a barrage of death threats yet still receives almost no media coverage, it is not normal.
• It is not normal for a president-elect to have 75 pending lawsuits against him, ranging from business fraud to illegal hiring practices. It is not normal for his lawyers to demand those lawsuits be delayed until after his inauguration for not discernable reason other than to retreat behind the immunity of the office.
• Relentlessly attacking the legitimacy of the media (to be distinguished from criticizing media conduct) is not normal. Threatening to sue the media because you don’t like being criticized is not normal.
• Being so steeped in the language of fascism that you and and your staff mirror Hitler (“make the trains run on time“), appeasing Hitler (“America First“), or Mussolini (“drain the swamp“) is not normal.
Yeah, not normal. I would also add that a president-elect taking to Twitter to say that he totally would have won the popular vote if he’d wanted to and saying that his transition team IS SO organized and upbraiding the “failing @nytimes” in multiple tweets is also not normal. Nor is a president-elect so utterly clueless that his predecessor must provide remedial presidenting coursework for the good of the country.
What will today bring in “not normal”? I don’t know. But I created a “Not Normal” tag even though I am loathe to create tags (we have so goddamned many that wading through them to find appropriate ones is a chore). I have a feeling we’ll be using it. A lot.