They’re Already Here

Institutional momentum is a hell of a thing. Even desiccated institutions that have proved too hollow to perform the functions for which they were designed — e.g., to prevent an unstable, unqualified puppet of a foreign power from ascending to the office of the U.S. presidency — have a heft that keeps them rolling in their well-worn grooves toward a predetermined destination.

That’s why, though we can hope for deus ex machina in the form of a CIA bombshell, etc., we will almost certainly see Putin’s poodle sworn in as POTUS at noon this Friday, with most Democratic lawmakers in attendance. That’s when the real work of the resistance will begin.

But in the meantime, between calling our reps to try to save the ACA, I don’t see why we can’t have a little fun at the expense of the brittle narcissist who is almost certainly furious at the prospect of his inaugural becoming a very public flop that is insufficiently staffed by celebrities and attended by citizens. Read more

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.

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.

This is my offer: nothing. (Updated)

The fabulous Meryl Streep called Trump out last night while accepting a Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe event. Via WaPo, here’s an excerpt of her speech:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that — breathtaking, compassionate work. There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

With characteristic lack of self-awareness, Trump responded via Twitter that Streep is overrated and a big loser Hillary flunky. Kellyanne Conway was all over the morning news shows to repeat the lie that Trump wasn’t imitating New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, even though it’s obvious to any sentient creature who views the video that’s exactly what he was doing.

Like Trump himself, Conway is a sworn enemy of the truth. But this morning’s performance surely makes her the favorite for this year’s “Most Hilarious Use of Projection to Deny Reality” Award:

Neither Trump nor his flacks asked the violent, racist creeps who committed hate crimes in Trump’s name in the wake of their Electoral College victory to knock it off.* But Meryl Streep is the villain here because she won’t fall into line behind Cheeto Benito.

It really drives the Trumpsters nuts, this continued resistance, this lack of deference, this ongoing contempt shown toward their idol. That tells me we’re on the right track.

Give Trump a chance? Nope. He’s a person of exceedingly low character who has already damaged the country before being sworn in. I owe Trump and his pack of grifting hyenas exactly nothing.

But I believe I owe my country resistance to the Trump agenda, and my project today in service of that idea is to call my senators and urge them not to even consider confirmation of Trump’s cabinet picks without completed background checks and ethics reviews.

The Republicans have the numbers to push their slate of extremist billionaires and delusional cranks through without Democrats, and they’ll likely peel off a few flinchy blue dogs like Manchin. But to the extent the Democrats can make Trump and the GOP own that cabal of greedheads and incompetents, they should. If you agree, please consider calling your senators too.

*ETA: Turns out, my statement above is not accurate — in a 60 Minutes interview, after saying he hadn’t heard the reports of violence carried out in his name, then saying he’d only heard of a couple of incidents and attempting to minimize the issue, Trump did say, “Stop it.” Thanks to commenters who pointed that out. I don’t think it detracts from the point, though: Streep isn’t the one who is “inciting people’s worst instincts” — Conway’s boss is.

What Would Narcissus Do?

As I mentioned in the morning thread comments, the walking collection of untreated personality disorders who will be president in two weeks took time out of his busy schedule to trash his reality TV show replacement’s ratings:

Some folks believe Trump is playing eleventy-dimensional checkers, hoping to distract the media from the Russian hacking thing by starting a catfight with Ahnuld. I think that gives Trump too much credit. He sees everything through the filter of his disease, so he can’t resist wanking over ratings.

That also explains why he tells easily disprovable lies about stuff like the not-landslide Electoral College victory and outrageous whoppers about voter fraud being responsible for Clinton’s historic margin in the popular vote total. The truth causes an unbearable injury to his ego, so the truth must be denied.

It’ll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out around the report on Russian hacking in the U.S. election. President Obama was briefed on it yesterday, and Trump will be briefed today. Then a heavily redacted public version is expected to be released sometime next week.

Even multimillionaire media figures find it odd that Trump won’t accept the intel community’s consensus that Russia was behind the hacks. CNN’s Chris Cuomo tried to pin Kellyanne Conway down on that this morning, causing Conway to spin faster than a particle beam in the Hadron Collider:

Unless you’re feeling particularly masochistic, I don’t recommend watching her simper and obfuscate for the full 17-plus minutes, but she did say something right before the 10-minute mark that might come back to bite Team Shitgibbon on the ass: She insisted that the Russians didn’t want Trump to win.

However, U.S. intel intercepts allegedly captured proof that Russian poohbahs were high-fiving one another over the success of their operation when the race was called for Trump. There are rumors — unsubstantiated, as far as I can tell — that the Russians used an unflattering nickname for Trump that is more offensive than “bitch” but with similar connotations in shirtless macho horse-riding circles.

So how will the brittle narcissist react when presented with this information? Will he continue to dismiss the intel? Will he accept the intel about the hacking, blame it on Obama’s “weakness” and get into a pissing contest with Putin?

I suspect this and every other decision Trump makes — ever has made, and ever will make — will be driven by the overriding goal of minimizing damage to his fragile self-esteem, with national security considerations and even political expediency far down on the list of factors to be considered. This is who he is.

To paraphrase a line from “The Birdcage,” for Americans, the Trump presidency will be like riding a psychotic horse toward a burning barn. Shorter: WASF.

Floriduh Woman: Personal Grooming Edition

Don’t do this!

Internet punsters are celebrating Megan Barnes as Florida’s “Pubic Enemy,” others are chattering about her “razor sharp focus.”

The 37-year-old Barnes catapulted to instant fame for an alleged multi-tasking mash-up that earned the bottle-blonde’s mug shot a spot on hundreds of Web sites.

According to a startled Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Barnes was shaving her bikini area while driving south on the famed Overseas Highway when she crashed into the rear of an SUV March 2.

In the police report obtained by ABC News, the trim job was apparently essential because the arresting officer, trooper Gary Dunick, said the Indiana native told him she was heading to Key West visit her boyfriend.

“She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit,” Dunick told the Key West Citizen.

It gets weirder. In order to pay full attention to her sensitive regions, police say Barnes enlisted her ex-husband, Charles Judy, who was riding shotgun, to hold the wheel.

Yes, her ex-husband.

Much more information at the link.

Today in Stochastic Violence and Terrorism

News started to break yesterday of the horrific kidnapping, brutalization, and torture of a mentally/developmentally disabled Chicago man by four others – one of whom was an acquaintance.

A mentally disabled man attacked and racially taunted on a Facebook Live video was able to leave a West Side apartment after a neighbor complained about the noise and distracted his attackers, authorities said Thursday.

Two of them followed the neighbor downstairs and the 18-year-old victim took the opportunity to leave the building in the 3300 block of West Lexington Street, ending a five-hour ordeal, police said at a news conference.

Officers found the man wandering the streets in the Homan Square neighborhood around 5:15 p.m., police said. “I observed him wearing a tank top, inside-out, backwards, jean shorts and sandals on,” said Officer Michael Donnelly. “He was bloodied, he was battered.

“He was very discombobulated,” he added. “He was injured. He was confused.”

The four perpetrators are facing felony charges, including hate crimes charges:

Four people face felony criminal charges including hate crimes and kidnapping in the brutal beating and torturing of a mentally disabled man that was broadcasted on live on Facebook.

Jordan Hill,18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago; face felony criminal charges of aggravated kidnapping, hate crime; aggravated unlawful restraint; aggravated battery deadly weapon; robbery; PSMV and residential burglary.

Chicago police were made aware of the video Tuesday afternoon. The footage shows the suspects kicking, hitting and cutting the hair of the victim while he was gagged. Shouts of “F*** Trump!” and “F*** white people!” can be heard in the background.

At one point, the victim is held at knife point and told to curse President-elect Donald Trump. The group also forces the victim to drink water from a toilet.

The victim was held hostage for at least 24 hours and as long as 48 hours. Police believe the kidnapping took place in an apartment in the 3400 block of West Lexington on the West Side. Chicago police found the victim “in distress” walking along a street, authorities said.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi called the footage “reprehensible.”

What has gotten a lot of play, and some of it absolutely falling in line with preconceived notions and prejudices, is that the victim is White and the perpetrators are African American.

I want to make this very, very clear: people, regardless of ethnicity, what we call race in the US, religion, or any other demographic descriptor we can come up, do horrible, terrible things to their fellow humans. And they do it all the time. In this case the victim/perpetrator realities lined up to provide grist for certain people’s mills, but what happened in Chicago is, unfortunately, not restricted to any one particular ethnicity or religious group. It is also unacceptable. And it would be unacceptable if the victim was African American and the perpetrators were white. Or if the victim was LatinX and the perpetrators were Jewish-American. Or if the victim was LGBTQ and the perpetrators were Asian American. Wrong is wrong is wrong regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, or national origin. There is enough evil in the world without looking to shoehorn it into one’s ideological prejudices to score political points.

It is more important now than ever to remember and take to heart the wisdom of President Washington from his Letter to the Jewish Congregations of Newport, Rhode Island:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.