America’s Rage Puppet


I remember clearly when Donald Trump’s birther crusade stopped being funny. There was never anything truly comical about it, of course; it was always an outrageous racist lie concocted to delegitimize the first black president. But living in a nation of 320M people, a not-negligible percentage of whom are raving idiots, we learn to laugh. Baratunde Thurston taught me to stop laughing and see the tragedy of it.

When President Obama produced his “long-form” birth certificate in 2011, I perceived it as a president hilariously smacking down an absurd, malignant, preening blowhard. Thurston saw it as an affirmation that the president — and by extension Thurston himself, and all other black people — were still less than full citizens. Even with a black man in the Oval Office.

Five years later, we’ve come full circle. That very same absurd, malignant, preening blowhard — whose birther antics should have banished him from the company of serious people forever — has instead been elevated to head one of our two major political parties. And this time, he’s telling Hillary Clinton, and by extension all women, that their aspirations are illegitimate and that they are less than full citizens.

Trump’s vile misogyny and painfully obvious lack of basic human decency — and more importantly, its echoes from tens of millions of our fellow Americans — have tarnished what should have been a joyous celebration of a historical milestone. We see them. We understand the implications.


Trump had help from nearly the entire GOP establishment, the Beltway media, his abhorrent family, his pack of ghastly political operatives, the Putin-reanimated remnants of the KGB and a self-important wanker with a grudge residing in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London as a fugitive from justice.

But that’s only the latest cast of characters. The hit has been out for Hillary Clinton ever since she emerged from Arkansas as a woman with a national profile and an agenda of her own.

During the recent debate, Clinton called Trump Putin’s puppet, and good for her. It’s about goddamned time someone said as much while the country was listening.

But Trump is not just Putin’s puppet. He’s America’s rage puppet, dancing in a fury because change is coming — no, it is here. And there are so many hands on the strings. That’s the tragedy of it.

Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread: Candy Nation

This map purports to show states’ favorite Halloween candies by 2015 purchase volume:


Seriously, candy corn, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oregon and Wyoming? WTF is wrong with you people?

Polling Goodies, Plus Right for the Wrong Reasons

New polling results released by Bloomberg today look good for Clinton:


An excerpt from the accompanying analysis:

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 9 percentage points in the survey of likely voters, taken after a leaked video prompted a series of women to come forward alleging the Republican made unwanted sexual advances.

Support for Trump among critical groups of voters, including men and the less educated, has weakened in the campaign’s closing days, a trajectory that could translate into a landslide loss for Republicans in the Electoral College and setbacks in down-ballot races that will determine control of the House and Senate.

“This poll shows movement toward Clinton with all the right groups it takes to win—including men and those without a college degree,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey ahead of the final debate Wednesday. “Their alignment with Clinton is a formidable change in the algebra.”

And to think I used to hate algebra!

In other good news from an unexpected quarter, Lil’ Marco is apparently immune to the Assange fanboi fever that has gripped the rest of the GOP:

Sen. Marco Rubio tells ABC News Republicans are making a mistake by jumping on allegedly hacked emails released by Wikileaks to criticize Hillary Clinton. In fact, he says he won’t talk about the hacked emails at all.

“As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it,” Rubio tells ABC news. “Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”

Now, we know Lil’ Marco lacks the courage of any conviction except his belief that he should be reelected to the no-show senate job he is on record disdaining. He has endorsed the presidential candidate he once rightly called out as a dangerous, unqualified conman in a transparent attempt to save his own bacon.

So why is he willing to indulge in truth-telling about WikiLeaks and its role as Putin’s cat’s paw as Russia attempts to interfere with a U.S. election? My guess is he’s seen polling that scares the bejeebus out of him and is attempting to micro-target specific groups in Florida.

Rubio is walking a tightrope over twin vats of boiling acid — the Trumpenproletariet in the Florida interior and panhandle on one side and reflexive Cold Warriors in South Florida on the other. He dares not offend the former by repudiating Trump and is attempting to curry favor with the latter by taking a shot at the revanchist Putin.

Lil’ Marco might also be optimistically calculating that when he runs against President Hillary Clinton in 2020, Putin might prefer to continue to deal with the incumbent rather than a callow, empty suit who built his political identity around a phony “Cuban exile” story. Ironically, Rubio may be the rare case where WikiLeaks apologists like Greenwald and Billmon, who like to tar fellow Democrats with the “red baiter” brush, might actually have a point.

But however he arrived at it, Rubio is correct to reject attempts by a foreign power to screw with our election. So is the nation of Ecuador, which has done us the favor of putting the proper name to that exercise while our own Beltway press mostly ignores Putin’s brazen power play in favor of hunting bits of salacious political gossip.

“You Have to Start with the Truth”

Didn’t know the noble truth-tellers at WikiLeaks had their own merch shop on Twitter:

The Twitter account for the shop is followed by the verified WikiLeaks account, so it appears to be an actual thing, not some false flag cooked up by an organization that wants to make WikiLeaks look bad. And given the clumsiness of the copy on the shirt, it looks like WikiLeaks is outsourcing its snark; it’s probably much funnier in the original Russian.

The only thing that’s “transparent” about WikiLeaks is its role as an avid supporter of authoritarians who would harm the U.S., both domestic (Trump) and foreign (Putin). Any media coverage of WikiLeaks-published stolen documents should come with a warning label to that effect.

Burying the Brand


Some folks theorize that Donald Trump originally conceived his candidacy as a brand-building exercise. There’s some evidence for that, including the fact that he often uses media coverage of his campaign for advertising purposes, as when he turned his “birther renunciation” presser into an infomercial for his DC hotel.

But if that’s the case, Trump has proved as inept at spinning political coverage into commercial gain as he was at hawking steaks, running an airline and operating casinos. New York Mag:

Donald Trump’s D.C. Hotel Shows His Brand Is Sinking Along With His Poll Numbers

Trump’s biggest disaster of the campaign — the revelations of a lewd tape in which he boasted about sexually accosting women — has led critics to throw more shade on his businesses. Fellow celebrity-billionaire Mark Cuban tweeted this on Friday night:

Every single @realDonaldTrump hotel and golf course is toast. Done. Over. Bernie Madoff now has a better brand.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) October 8, 2016

He might not be wrong. Take Trump’s latest, most lavish venture: the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which has become a focal point for grievances against the unconventional Republican presidential candidate…

For a five-star hotel in downtown Washington to have vacancies during major IMF meetings is a little like having empty rooms when the Super Bowl is in town. “The reason why there were vacancies is the political atmosphere. People don’t want to go there for fear that they would be asked, ‘Why are you staying here?’” says Ada Pena, a travel agent with ABA Travel in Washington, D.C.

The explosive tape of Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women will only “aggravate that feeling, especially when there are other options,” she says.

The hotel not only has a prime location and swank interiors, it boasts a branded Ivanka Trump spa, and tourist attractions related the building’s old function as a post office. But none of that seems to be attracting guests.

“You don’t see taxis stopping by like they do at the Marriott or the Willard, which are nearby,” says Pena, who works in the area. “It’s dark. There is no feeling of hospitality.” Locals aren’t eating at the restaurant for lunch either, she says.

“It’s a shame that it is called Trump because it’s a beautiful property. But overall, his brand is hurting,” the travel agent adds.

This is a real problem for Trump since his entire business model centers on licensing the Trump name to convey a Liberace-themed notion of conspicuous consumption. Unfortunately for the Trump brand, overt white supremacists are decidedly downscale and thus unable to afford luxury items.

Maybe Ivanka can cut a deal with Walmart for a discount shoes and accessories line, and Donald can peddle clip-on ties and wife-beater undershirts. Made in CHI-nuh, of course.

Another Vendor Disappoints Trump

As usual, Trump is full of shit: There has been extensive media coverage of the mostly innocuous cache of purloined emails in the mainstream media, though it has been overshadowed by PussyGate. Gee, I wonder why the media is focusing on PussyGate instead of emails that portray a political organization engaged in political strategerizing? Maybe a genius TV impresario like Donald J. Trump can solve that mystery.

Meanwhile, Balloon Juice favorite Glenn Greenwald has published another screed denouncing objections to the “inconvenient truths” published by WikiLeaks as neo-red baiting. He accused Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald of being “hysterical,” “overwrought” and engaging in “righteous group-think” (and Greenwald should know from these qualities!) for doubting WikiLeaks’ objectivity and lauds WikiLeaks’ “perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents.” Read more

Creamsicle Meltdown

New PRRI research released today shows Trump on the losing end of a historic gender gap:


As expected, non-whites favor Clinton over Trump by huge margins (72% vs. 17%), but Clinton is also annihilating Trump among white women with a college degree (68% to 29%), and even white women without a degree are split 40%-40% between Clinton and Trump. The findings can be read in full here.

Meanwhile, the incomparable Sam Bee weighed in on PussyGate and presidential debate #2. The whole show was fabulous, but here’s a clip:

Samantha Bee called presidential debate #2 a “grotesque travesty of democracy.” Pretty much! As I mentioned yesterday, many of us lady folk were angry and disgusted at the spectacle of a qualified woman like Hillary Clinton being stalked and insulted by hirsute walking Roofie.

Bee says Trump knows he’s losing and is therefore prepared to “suicide-bomb” the election. If Trump’s Twitter output this morning is any indication, Bee is dead right about that:

Uh-oh. He’s shaking out the Tic Tacs right now and limbering up the stubby orange fingers. It’s time to protect your pussy, America! C’mon ladies — and allies of all genders! Let’s knee this sleazy shitbag in the groin and step over his bloated carcass into history!