Next Friday Belongs to Them

Via TPM, former Breitbart staffers are forming a Trump agenda enforcement group to “pressure lawmakers into falling into line with Donald Trump’s political agenda.” According to the report, based on a story in The Atlantic, the Breitbart staffers have formed a PAC and are creating a media arm:

The strategy [former Breitbart report Dustin] Stockton described to The Atlantic echoes the Tea Party playbook, complete with organized town hall confrontations and a team of reporters that would “ambush” unfriendly lawmakers. The group also had brainstormed giving out “Trump Enforcement Posse” or “Trump Enforcement Team” badges as donor rewards, according to the report.

Why not brown shirts? Still, they may find it harder to whip up angry mobs with their own gelatinous orange blob in the Oval Office instead of the uppity black fellow.

Meanwhile, Trump resistors have their own guide, which I’ve seen linked here a time or two [PDF link]. The tactics it advocates (showing up at local congressional offices, calling congresscritters, etc.) have already borne fruit. Despite what some moronic reporting implied, Trump didn’t get congressional Republicans to halt plans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics or stop trying to ramrod cabinet picks through without proper vetting: We did.

We have to remember that the teaturds were a minority of cranks, yet highly effective because they were committed in their opposition to a president who won in a landslide and was enacting broadly popular policies. We’re the majority, and we’re opposing a malignant clown who lost the popular vote by nearly three million and his conflicted, compromised hangers-on who want to enact unpopular policies.

If we stay committed and connected, we win. And then tomorrow belongs to us.

Sky-High Open Thread

Faithful Balloon Juice reader (and occasional commenter) cope sent the following beautiful predawn photo of Venus and the crescent moon:

Hope the appearance of a crescent moon in Cole’s Twitter feed doesn’t bring the anti-Islam hysterics down on our host’s head. He has enough to contend with, given the unruly menagerie and impending relocation.

I know we’re all dreading next week’s transfer of power from a decent and thoughtful man to a walking collection of untreated personality disorders. We’re all dealing with that in our own ways.

But though our party may be as shattered as our spirits and the barbarians on the other side are as gleeful as a pack of meth-addled skunks rolling in a dumpster of rotten citrus fruit, I believe we have hidden strengths — and that our opponents have grievous weaknesses — that will soon become apparent.

Anyhoo, the thread: it is as open as the coastal sky.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Beginning of the Downfall Arc?

Allow me an old person’s whimsy. The notorious Watergate burglary took place in June 1972; its instigators were indicted in September, but its beneficiary — Richard Nixon — was nevertheless reelected in November. Televised hearings of the Senate Watergate Committee didn’t begin until June 1973. The impeachment hearings began in May 1974, yet Nixon didn’t officially resign until August 9, 1974.

That was in an age before 24/7 cable news, much less social media.

Alex Pareene, at Deadspin, yesterday — “Republicans Have No Good Reason Not To Impeach Donald Trump“:

It’s been fun, but it’s about time for Republicans to admit that the great Donald Trump experiment isn’t going to work out—for them.

One hypothetical version of President Trump—the ideal version, for Republicans, and one that many convinced themselves he would become, given practice and training—is a new Reagan: a mouthpiece for the ideas and policies inserted into his empty head by members of an ascendant conservative movement riding his television-mastery to power. Surround this version of Trump with good party men like Reince Priebus and Mike Pence, and he takes care of entertaining the masses—and distracting the opposition—while true-believing conservatives actually run the country, enacting their entire agenda too forcefully and quickly for anyone to effectively fight them…

Another version of Trump—the nightmare for liberals and not one conservatives would welcome either—could be a second Nixon, with no real political philosophy, but a willingness to do anything to maintain his grip on power. Not just through unethical and criminal means, like the Watergate break-in or the sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks, but also in his willingness to do decidedly un-conservative things if they’d benefit him politically—like the wage and price controls he implemented, to great popular acclaim, in 1971. This is the model Steve Bannon likely hopes to emulate.

But Trump will fail to be either, and by now Republicans should recognize this. He’s too impetuous and narcissistic to be Reagan, and not smart enough to be Nixon. Half of his advisers will attempt to use him as a pitchman for conservative policy, the other half will attempt to use him to create and sustain a white nationalist international coalition, and he will instead tweet for hours about which celebrity slighted him this week. Trump will reject conservative ideas if he believes they will not be popular, but if Trump attempts to cynically abandon conservatism to maintain popularity, he will find that he has no clue how to go about doing actually popular things.

The end result won’t work for anyone. Successful corrupt right-wing populists generally tend to actually deliver tangible things to their bases of support. Trump will be unable to do this, and the Republican Party is too tied to its dead philosophy to help him. Ethno-nationalism needs welfare chauvinism to flourish, but today’s GOP might actually be too opposed to all forms of welfare (for the non-rich) to ensure their own political success….

If Republicans were smart—if they were a rational political party able to act in their own best interests—they’d impeach Trump as soon as possible. His bizarre performance today, and his brazenly inadequate response to the many very obvious conflicts of interest and opportunities for corrupt dealings that his administration will invite, give Republicans a perfectly acceptable rationale to do so. They can say it is for the good of the country, but the truth is that it would be for the good of the Republican Party and the conservative movement…

Apart from such happy fantasies — not to mention awaiting the usual Friday Doc Dump — what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

#Facepalm Read: Andy Griffith’s Home Town Hates & Fears This Modern World

(Mike Luckovich via

I believe I may have discovered the platonic ideal of all “Poor Little WWC Voters!” stories. And because it is from the Washington Post, I strongly suspect its bathetic overkill may be entirely intentional. “How nostalgia for white Christian America drove so many Americans to vote for Trump“:

Residents and tourists from far-flung states mill along the thoroughfare, past the quaint low-slung shops made of Mount Airy’s famous white granite and named, like Floyd’s City Barber Shop, for references in “The Andy Griffith Show,” the folksy comedy set in the idyllic fictional small town of Mayberry that first aired in 1960.

And yet even as this city of about 10,000 nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains fills its coffers by selling nostalgia, many of its residents would agree with the now-popular saying “We’re not in Mayberry anymore.”

If only the real Mount Airy, which has experienced decades of economic and social decline, were like the Mayberry facade, muses Mayor David Rowe. If only his city and the rest of America could return to the 1950s again.

“Now it’s about secular progressivism, not the values you get out of this book,” such as honesty and hard work, said Rowe, 72, jabbing his finger at the leather Bible on his office desk.

But as Donald Trump prepares to move into the White House, Rowe and many of his constituents are hoping for a return to the past…

Seventy-four percent of white evangelicals believe American culture has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s — more than any other group of Americans — compared with 56 percent of all whites, according to a 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. In sharp contrast, 62 percent of African Americans and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans think the culture has changed for the better, the survey said.

“You think back to the 1990s, and conservative Christians could throw around the phrase ‘moral majority,’ and there was a kernel of truth to that,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive at PRRI and author of “The End of White Christian America.” “Even in 2008, they could say the country is on our side on [same-sex marriage], and that’s changed so quickly in this last decade. The election hit on fundamental questions about what America is and should be.”…

Thomas, who blames the loss of his $75,000-a-year factory job on Obama, now makes $18,000 working in his friend’s gun store and pawnshop. He is hopeful Trump will bring jobs back.

His colleague, Dreama Staples, 53, said people are bringing in their prized possessions to sell so they can buy groceries and gas. At 4.8 percent, the unemployment rate in Surry County is similar to the national figure, but Staples said that finding full-time work with benefits is difficult. She said she has grown angry over what she considers government overreach.

“We’re losing control of our freedoms,” Staples said. “The government was taking away our rights. Taxes are higher, our jobs are gone, and it just feels less Christian.”…

Not everyone is nostalgic for the 1950s.

Ron Jessup, 68, who grew up in Mount Airy during that era, found the place generally friendly then, he said — as long as he and other blacks obeyed the racist laws and social mores of the time.

If African Americans went to the theater, they sat upstairs, he said. If they went to the restaurants, they avoided the counter. “We understood what was considered our place,” said Jessup, who is retired from his job as a high school principal in nearby Winston-Salem. Even now, all five Surry County commissioners are white.
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Brow-Raising Read: Peter Not-Bathory Thiel Has No Patience with Your Illogical Humanity

As Thiel would no doubt explain — possibly via a letter from his lawyers — someone who can plausibly style himself a ‘chess prodigy’ cannot be called stupid. (Clueless would be my term.) He simply fails to honor certain metrics popular with lesser beings, ‘soft’ terms like empathy and humor, or self-awareness.

To interview such a challenging subject, the NYTimes‘ Maureen Dowd is perhaps uniquely suited, given her long career of sucking up to those celebrities her bosses admire in combination with her natural instinct to take the mickey. As a brief interval of laughter — “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself“:

Let others tremble at the thought that Donald J. Trump may go too far. Peter Thiel worries that Mr. Trump may not go far enough.

“Everyone says Trump is going to change everything way too much,” says the famed venture capitalist, contrarian and member of the Trump transition team. “Well, maybe Trump is going to change everything way too little. That seems like the much more plausible risk to me.”

Mr. Thiel is comfortable being a walking oxymoron: He is driven to save the world from the apocalypse. Yet he helped boost the man regarded by many as a danger to the planet.

“The election had an apocalyptic feel to it,” says Mr. Thiel, wearing a gray Zegna suit and sipping white wine in a red leather booth at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan. “There was a way in which Trump was funny, so you could be apocalyptic and funny at the same time. It’s a strange combination, but it’s somehow very powerful psychologically.”…

He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”…

(This is the high-IQ, expensively-educated version of “How do you know it’s dangerous to drink bleach? Just because a bunch of quote-unquote scientists told you so?”)

I ask if he’s comfortable with the idea that Vice President-elect Mike Pence, regarded in the gay community as an unreconstructed homophobe, is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

“You know, maybe I should be worried but I’m not that worried about it,” he replies. “I don’t know. People know too many gay people. There are just all these ways I think stuff has just shifted. For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.”…
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Another Standard Falls?

Is it common for U.S. presidents to use public communication venues to openly shill for companies owned by their supporters? I can’t recall such a case, but perhaps I’ve missed it. Anyhoo, this morning:

The backstory is that Linda Bean, a board member who owns a company stake but doesn’t participate in its daily operations, is a Trump super-donor — so super that she violated the law to bankroll Trump. As a result of that publicity, L.L. Bean was added to the Grab Your Wallet boycott list of companies that sell Trump merchandise or whose owners fund Trump.

L.L. Bean’s chairman, Shawn Gorman, appealed the company’s placement on the list on Facebook last weekend. From the Portland Press Herald:

Shawn Gorman, executive chairman of the L.L. Bean board and great grandson of company founder Leon Leonwood Bean, posted a statement on Facebook late Sunday night saying he was “deeply troubled” by the portrayal of the company and called the boycott campaign by Grab Your Wallet “misguided.” He said L.L. Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters or make political contributions.

“We fully acknowledge and respect that some may disagree with the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors,” Gorman wrote. “Like most large families, the more than 50 family member-owners of the business hold views and embrace causes across the political spectrum, just as our employees and customers do. And as every member of the family would agree, no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that (Leon Leonwood Bean) built.”

Well, if Gorman hoped to contain the PR damage, Trump just dropped a huge turd on that communication strategy. I probably buy more shit online from L.L. Bean than any other single store, and I closed my account this morning and told them why.

It’s not that one crackpot Bean family member supports Trump — I understand all too well that we can’t choose our relatives. But the man who will be POTUS in eight days has no goddamned business hawking products made by his supporters. “Unseemly” and “inappropriate” seem too weak a description for that kind of shamelessness.

Also, is it okay to call Trump a fascist now? I’ve had pushback on the use of that term since the classic definition of fascism includes economic control. He’s not even sworn in yet, but Trump is personally meddling in industries, bending companies to his will and setting up his family members and hangers-on to profit massively from his presidential power. Duck, quack, walk, etc.

Twitler in the Bunker

Here’s how the brittle narcissist who will be President of the United States in nine days spent his morning so far:

So the man who owes his squeaker EC victory in part to fake news is shrieking that he’s the victim of fake news. We’re supposed to dismiss the intel reports on the say-so of the foreign autocrat who allegedly has Twitler by the short-n-curlies.

We’re supposed to take Trump’s word for it that he has no business dealings with Russia, even though he refuses to release his tax returns and other financial information that could verify the claim, and one of his own sociopathic whelps is on record bragging about Russian money flowing into TrumpCo.

And the situation is comparable to Nazi Germany — with Trump as the victim.

This is real life, folks, but damned if it still doesn’t seem like some queasy nightmare conjured by late-night pizza and cheap booze.