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Trump’s record-shattering race to majority disapproval

[ 227 ] January 30, 2017 |

Here’s how many days after their election it took various presidents to achieve majority disapproval in the Gallup poll:

Reagan: 727
Bush I: 1336
Clinton: 573
Bush II: 1205
Obama: 936

Trump: 8

Trump was elected under freakish circumstances, and he’s not running against Hillary Clinton any more.  His first week was a combination of grotesque incompetence and fascisant gestures like putting Steve Bannon (described accurately this morning in the Times as a “right-wing agitator” with no other qualifications for the position) on the National Security Council.

Trump is incapable of tolerating criticism.  For a narcissist of his magnitude, the current outcry against him among the public and in the media inflicts the sort of grave psychic injury that’s difficult for a less twisted person to comprehend.

He is very vulnerable in both political and psychological terms, and he needs to be mocked and otherwise attacked relentlessly until he is driven from office, whether that’s next month or after the midterms, or in January of 2021.


Comments (227)

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  1. Lurks says:

    We should make a playlist of apropos songs for him. Either titles or general sentiment of the song itself.

    That would be amusing, if we could get a popular playlist on one of the online services that was nothing but suggestively derogatory songs about him and his administration.

  2. bizarroMike says:

    It is frightening to see this happening. I mean, did the guy who spent years on some racist crap about Obama really believe that being President would be a rollicking good time free from criticism? I guess the answer is yes.

    The mixture of cruelty, incompetence, and back-biting that defined his first week are nearly impossible for me to understand, and I just lived through it. I hope you are right and he is driven from office in shame. My goal is to be part of the force pushing him out.

    • tsam says:

      I think he honestly believed he could president so good that all the people would love him. All the best people.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Now he’s going to make them love him.

        Anybody who grew up in an abusive home knows how this goes.

        Trump’s going to get the belt….

        • busker type says:

          The fact that he’s getting bipartisan pushback in the senate gives me a lot of hope.

          • catclub says:

            Not me.

            Any day, the Congress could pass a law with bipartisan majorities stopping his executive orders. I do not see that happening for a looong time.

          • CrunchyFrog says:

            You know which group isn’t pushing back – in fact is in lockstep enthusiastic support of Trump?

            Border police.

            Also, state and local police, national police agencies, and the military.

            What Bannon learned this past weekend is that if he issues an executive order to one of these groups telling them to crack down on other races they will not only do so vigorously and without question – they’ll go above and beyond what the order says.

            Trump meant every thing he said when campaigning. A lot of it won’t happen – Mexico won’t pay for it – the GOP Congress won’t pass a law giving everyone cheaper health care. But he meant it. And America’s armed authorities are poised to support him.

            • efgoldman says:

              Also, state and local police, national police agencies, and the military

              So far (and it’s only been just over a week – holy shit!) they haven’t ordered the military to do anything, so there is nothing on which to push back.
              There’s been a lot of speculative fantasy, here and elsewhere, about a military coup, or martial law, or civil war on the horizon.
              Most (not all) senior military officers are highly professional, very well educated and understand their limits and responsibilities. There are a lot of ways not to follow a stupid or illegal order without flatly refusing.
              Do I believe Cantaloupe Cankersore might wish to do any of those things? Yes. He is, after all, clearly deranged. Bannonazi is a malignancy that needs to be excised. But the JCS and senior commanders are not going to act on his whim.

        • tsam says:

          Now he’s going to make them love him.

          Yeah, that seems like his type right down to the last fucked up personality trait. He thinks he’s a god among men, and that people are put here for his use.

    • randy khan says:

      Well, he figured that since he was a white guy, it wouldn’t be that hard for him.

      I considered a sarcasm tag, and then realized it might actually be true.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        It’s not about the white guy bit: he also called W and Reagan morons all the time. It’s that as Mike says, he just presumed everyone would luuuurv him because he is so great.

    • SNF says:

      I honestly think his thought process was that he would be one of the “great” presidents immediately, and the “great” presidents like Lincoln are universally loved while in office.

      Trump is emotionally hollow. He feels like no matter what he does, people don’t actually love him, and he is desperate for approval. He honestly thought that being president would finally give him the respect and love he wants so desperately.

    • C.V. Danes says:

      Every day for the next 4 years is going to be like the day after the debates. I really think Trump is going to push the limits of unpopularity.

  3. tsam says:

    Are we sure we want pence instead? All the same crazy, but with a thin layer of political skills on the outside. It almost makes more sense to let the most incompetent dummy keep writing things that take courts less than a couple days to pound holes into.

    • Paul Campos says:

      The GOP is on its way to becoming a fascist ethno-nationalist party, but it’s not there yet. Having a “normal” Republican like Pence as president would be awful in many ways, but it would be a step back from the abyss of fascism and/or civil war, which is where we’re heading now.

      Also he would be less likely to nuke somebody because they hurt his feelings.

      • tsam says:

        That’s a good point.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          Also, a VP coming as a result of the party ditched the incumbent “outsider” president is a dead man walking in 2020.

          • William Berry says:

            I certainly hope so.

            I’ve worried that Pence will be seen as the guy who came in, picked up the pieces, and restored “sanity”. Such a figure might garner a good deal of good will from the relatively apolitical, “independent” center of the electorate (the crucial swing voters, iow).

            A lot depends on the timing of the succession and on who the Ds come up with to run in 2020.

            Of course, we are trying to be rational and analytical about all this. Which is probably a mug’s game, given that every hand dealt in this nightmarish game contains one or more wild cards.

            • Brien Jackson says:

              Well he’d also be the VP who ran with Trump and have a fractured party to run with.

              • njorl says:

                A fractured Republican party doesn’t mean much. It has to actually be discredited for it to affect elections. Any Republican who cares about which side of the “fracture” a candidate is on is going to vote for the Republican nominee for president regardless. The “fracture” only affects how happy he is about it.
                Republicans who don’t care much will stay home if the party is discredited, but they won’t care about any fracture.

            • ChrisS says:

              Pence restoring “sanity” would be difficult considering that his policies are 95% as repugnant as Trump’s. Hell Indiana didn’t even like him.

      • Steve says:

        I keep revising up my subjective probability of major social unrest. Look where we are after just 1 week.

        • ΧΤΠΔ says:

          At what level of approval ratings do heads of state start getting removed, at least in broadly democratic countries?

          • Paul Campos says:

            Parliamentary systems have a reasonable mechanism to deal with this problem and we don’t, so it’s hard to compare. Nixon was down to 27% when he was forced to resign.

            • (((Malaclypse))) says:

              There’s that number again.

              • humanoid.panda says:

                And of course, Nixon wasn’t forced to resign because his approval was low (W got below that, I think). He was forced to resign because elites united against him.

                • ExpatJK says:

                  Indeed, GOP Congress members were clearly willing to vote to get rid of him. Unlikely to happen this time around.

                • Rob in CT says:

                  Right, and they learned a lesson from that: that they shouldn’t have.

                • catclub says:

                  Right, and they learned a lesson from that: that they shouldn’t have.

                  Just like all the good laws passed after the Democrats left to fight a war in 1861 – if they had stayed, none of those laws even pass.

                  The lesson – stay and obstruct.
                  Likewise Bush was down to 23% approval and no chance of popular removal by congress.

            • tsam says:

              Yeah, we really do need a “no confidence” vote with something like a supermajority in both chambers…? Isn’t that sort of how the parliamentary systems work?

              Looking at all of this and the relatively small number of completely terrible and incompetent presidents we’ve had, it all sort of seems like a miracle we’ve made it through the 19th and 20th centuries in one piece.

              • vic rattlehead says:

                We’re about to learn firsthand the instability inherent in the presidential system. Of course, political scientists have known this for years, but ‘Murican Exceptionalism!

                A vote of no confidence by a supermajority? That’s essentially what you need for impeachment right? I suppose it would be better though-no need to drum up charges just-we don’t think you can govern anymore. Would be more honest.

                How about also, if Congress doesn’t act-if you get X signatures a plebiscite is held within 3-6 months on the incumbent.

                • tsam says:

                  That’s essentially what you need for impeachment right?

                  I guess that IS impeachment. I don’t know much about law, but I think it’s more or less the same thing.

              • Richard Gadsden says:

                Simple majority in both, but only a constructive vote (ie naming a replacement).

            • The Temporary Name says:

              Parliaments exist on norms though. When someone just wants to ignore the norms they’re not so hot either.

          • NewishLawyer says:

            As Paul said, our system does not have this kind of safety valve. Westminister systems has the vote of no confidence which forces an election pronto.

            Trump is still really popular with Republicans and as long as that continues (and Congress can jam through their agenda), he will not be removed. He will be protected.

            • Richard Gadsden says:

              Vote of no confidence does not always force an election. It can result in the PM being replaced as well (Churchill for Chamberlain in 1940 being the last UK example, but there are much more recent ones in other countries, e.g. Germany in 1982)

        • Richard Gadsden says:

          I had a spare couple of hours.

      • Woodrowfan says:

        Pence is a Dominionist. I’m not so sure he’s less of an authoritarian than Trump, just less vocal about it.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

          Pence serves his vision of God, while Trump serves himself.

          That said, it’s hard to know which one is more dangerous, though we’re likely to find out because I can’t see Trump lasting 4 years.

      • dogboy says:

        There was a good piece over the weekend about the peril Pence represents.
        I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting Someone Like Mike Pence as a Messiah

        These people didn’t come out of the blue like it seemed. This plan, this Christofascist takeover of the US government, has been in the works for decades. When evangelical conservatism started becoming popular and more mainstream around the 1970s, the foundation was being laid for the tragedy playing out right now.

      • Snarki, child of Loki says:

        Pres. Trump: “DAMN these tweets are making me look bad! The NSA has tracked their IP address, let’s nuke em!”

        Bannon: “Okay, what’s the IP?”

        Pres. Trump: “, it seems to be the source of ALL the crazy bad tweets!”

        Bannon: “Bombs away!”

        Pres. Trump: “Was there supposed to be fireworks tonight? I love fireworks.”

      • rewenzo says:

        I think part of any deal that removes Trump would also have to remove Pence. By agreeing to be his vice president, and being a core part of his campaign, and supporting him thus far, Pence has displayed AT LEAST shitty judgment, and is clearly unfit for the Presidency. Paul Ryan needs to step in as Acting President of the United States, pass an amended Succession Act which would call for a special election, and schedule a special election.

      • NewishLawyer says:

        He is also less likely to engage in a trade war that will hurt American consumers. He will still do plenty of race to the bottom stuff but a trade war will not be part of it.

        Plus Pence shows he caves to pressure and is really a coward despite his Christianist views.

        That being said, a few of my friends seem to think that our best hope if for Trump and Pence (because there are a lot of articles/essays going viral on how Culture Warriors were trained to pray for someone like Pence to be President) to go and Ryan to become President. I guess his aw shucks demeanor really does fool people.

    • Warren Terra says:

      That’s not fair. Pence has all the same evil, and is not the sharpest sponge under the sink, but he’s probably less crazy and less impulsive.

    • Ramon A. Clef says:

      We would need to keep up the pressure. Hang the label “Party of Trump” like an albatross around their necks, never let the country forget what the GOP willingly signed on for. Keep agitating for progressive values, no matter who is in power.

      • Kalil says:

        I suspect we’d have an assist from Big Orange himself, there: there is no scenario where he gets removed that doesn’t involve being ‘betrayed’ by the republican party. In such a scenario, he /will/ seek vengeance. There’s no chance of him going away quietly. And that plays well to the D’s advantage in such a situation…

      • catclub says:

        Hang the label “Party of Trump” like an albatross around their necks, never let the country forget


        The US the memory of a gnat when it comes to mal-government by the GOP. Nixon – barely three years.
        GWBush – 2 years. Miss me yet?

        Iran Contra? zero? negative years?

        • tsam says:

          It really is amazing how Republicans rebound from the most spectacular fuck ups and fuckery. I mean, the last one that wasn’t either a total joke or an outright crook was Dwight Eisenhower! Yet they keep coming back every 8 years. Rested and ready to break shit like a GODDAMN BOSS.

          • CP says:

            It helps that 1) the media does their “forgive and forget” spiel every time and looks forwards not back, and 2) their voters require nothing of them other than having worked hard to screw Democratic constituencies.

            • tsam says:

              Yes, and right wing media does a fantastic job of rehabilitating the reputations of these guys. They do hagiography better than anyone.

            • DamnYankees says:

              It is sadly not only the media that does this. Almost every Democrat did this in 2007-2009 as well.

              Not pushing for the prosecution of torture, for example, is one of Obama’s gravest mistakes.

              • sibusisodan says:

                Counterpoint: there’s a likelihood that moving to prosecute Bush administration officials for torture would have broken the system in similar ways to what we see currently.

                In order for such prosecution to be effective, all parties have to believe in the rule of law above the exercise of power.

    • randy khan says:

      Pence would be better. Besides the obvious nukes point, I’ve realized that Trump is enacting what I thought of as my worst realistic case scenario for him – he’s signing on to all of the standard Republican stuff *and* it turns out he meant all the crazy things he said during the campaign *and* his Administration is filled with all of his fellow inmates in the asylum. Pence is only (only!) a standard wing nut who would appoint bad people.

    • Hayden Arse says:


      And now that we are stuck with it, I really hope that the Trump administration attempts, (and fails to accomplish), its horrific agenda in a way that makes enough persuadable Americans to realize that apathy threatens them in a very real way. I hope that the Millenials, and whatever the subsequent generation is mislabeled, become active politically and learn to cherish the franchise. I hope that the obvious white nationalism of this administration makes those opposed to racism in all its forms realize that if they fail to participate, they will have to live with the consequences of whatever the racist minority is able to enact. I hope that every elected official is judged critically on the basis of whether they acquiesced to Trump or fought it with every tool at their disposal.

      My fear of Pence is that he may be more adept at disguising the horrific meanness that motivates the entire GOP agenda. This agenda is, at its core, either racist, clasist, or theocratic. Any idea based on any one of those three motivations is flatly un-American. Trump may ultimately have value in demonstrating how rotten the core of the GOP really is.

      • tsam says:

        Yeah, that’s my thought, though as others have pointed out (rightly, I believe), having a petulant brat in charge of the nuclear arsenal–one who has openly mused about why we aren’t “using them more”, is terrifying. Are there enough cool heads with enough administration influence to stop him from using them? Bannon just took a bunch of power away from the DNI and Joint Chiefs chairman.

        There’s probably enough of Trump out there now (a nice historical record of psychotic tweets) to be convincing to those who hath understanding.

    • JohnT says:

      The switch to Pence seems wildly theoretical at this point, given you’d need 20-30 GOP reps and 19 GOP Senators to vote for it, as well as 100% Democratic support.

      Trump’s actions are definitely driving to the 100% Dem support. However, even after this exciting start I’ve seen no sign that any of them have even criticised Trump, other than the 3-4 GOP reps and the 3-4 GOP Senators who have always been pretty vocal against him. Not gonna happen on present trends unless he starts a war or starts f*cking with large GOP constituencies – and which ones would they be?

      • humanoid.panda says:

        I’m pretty much with you. From where I stand, pretty much the only way the GOP turns on Trump (absent him trying to nuke Canada or something) is if they are destroyed in the midterm. And even then, it would take shape as a late W era every man for himself, rather than an impeachment.

    • eclare says:

      My biggest concern right now is that Trump will continue to ignore judicial orders (and on that point – does anyone know the latest on the CPB doing just that?). I think (hope) that Pence would not go quite that far.

    • econoclast says:

      Yes, we want Pence. Trump is going to blow up all of the post-WW2 institutions that promote peace and stability. He and Bannon have said as much, and as we saw this week, they are doing what they said they would do.

    • SNF says:

      Pence is preferable because he’s unlikely to launch a nuclear weapon.

      That is no small thing.

    • efgoldman says:

      Are we sure we want pence instead?

      Persimmon Pustule threw Pence a lifeline when he put him on the national ticket. His approval rating in bright red Indiana was in the 30s. If he’d run for re-election, he would have been buried.
      He’s perfectly capable of achieving the same thing on a national scale.

  4. yet_another_lawyer says:

    So, a point I haven’t seen discussed (doesn’t mean it hasn’t been, it’s a big internet): However Trump eventually leaves office, there’s going to be some lag time. The “gap period” between when he finds out he’ll be leaving and when he actually has to leave is likely when we’ll get the Really Good Stuff, as they won’t even have the tiniest bit of attention to public opinion. If we’re lucky, they’ll think small and just pardon themselves and everybody else they can think of on “their” side. If we’re unlucky…

    • randy khan says:

      Well, for Nixon it was about 24 hours. If they don’t have the Really Good Stuff ready, we could be lucky. But we definitely could have the first case on whether a President can pardon himself.

      • Snarki, child of Loki says:

        Right, but that was because Nixon abandoned ship early in the impeachment process.

        Anyone think that Trump is as sharp and perceptive? Anyone?

        • randy khan says:

          That suggests, actually, a shorter window – he won’t realize what’s happening until it’s way too late.

          And, frankly, I bet Nixon knew what was going to happen when the smoking gun tape was released. He just waited to make sure he was right.

  5. jpgray says:

    As with the Pernicious Pence Puzzle above, consider the Conspirator Condemnation Conundrum – we don’t decide these things, but how far are we okay with tying disasters specifically to Trump rather than the larger GOP?

    I’m of the opinion that (1) the GOP would be so grievously wounded in credibility anyway if he implodes and (2) Trump is such a massive danger that it’s worth it. Making the man and his immediate circle the focus is still a massive political win and may get him out faster.

    On the other side, I guess a quick Trump exorcism via GOP cooperation would unfortunately remove at least some of the animosity that should by rights settle indefinitely on the GOP for getting behind a dangerous lunatic crook. Would it be worth it? I say “yes.” What says LGM?

    • SNF says:

      I don’t think this question is as hard as people make it out to be.

      Even if the GOP impeaches Trump, they’ll own him. He’s their president. And voters don’t process things at the level where Republicans abandoning Trump would make a difference.

      If Trump is impeached, people who hate Trump will still associate the GOP with him, but Trump fans will be demoralized because they will feel betrayed.

      The best move politically for the GOP is to stand with Trump no matter what happens, and just accept the losses that gives them. There is no way for them to distance themselves from him now. Denouncing him only alienates their supporters without any political benefit.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        One caveat to this is if Trump’s wades into late W territory. Then,their move is to persuade Trump voters than he is a liberal interloper forced on them by the media.

        • CP says:

          It helps that they were already saying that in the primary and that even though mostly that’s ceased since the election, I still see the occasional “well, of course, I am no fan of Donald Trump” qualification in between bouts of supporting whatever he’s doing.

        • efgoldman says:

          Then,their move is to persuade Trump voters than he is a liberal interloper forced on them by the media

          Won’t work. The greater electorate either credits or blames the WH.
          They’re between the rock of going down with him, and the hard place of dumping on him, and being primaried by the mouth breathing flying monkeys who make up the bulk of primary voters.
          Whatever happens it will probably will be about a year from now, when they’ve got the pulse of their states/districts.

  6. MPAVictoria says:

    Ryan Cooper has dived into these numbers on Twitter a bit and his thoughts are scary. Basically everyone under 35 hates Trump but he is still even or positive with those over 35. Who are the ones who vote.

    • Rob in CT says:

      This is certainly part of the problem (also, the 35+ group has nearly all the money).

      But there a LOT of us 35+ers who are anti-Trump, even if he’s got a bare majority…

      • humanoid.panda says:

        Those kinds of numbers were enough to let Obama win comfortably (he lost everyone about 35 in 2012.)

        • humanoid.panda says:

          Also, it’s kinda silly to delve too deep into numbers one week into the presidency. One could easily conclude, for instance,that they represent the ceiling on Trump’s support. Also of note: all numbers are from before the ban news broke.

      • fernando says:

        I’m old and I don’t like trump. I do like some of his ideas (I sure would like to see tax reform, it kills me to pay $1500 to get my taxes done). It’s just that he’s got terrible manners and he’s incredibly insensitive. Plus some of his ideas are really stupid. And he sure looks like he’s crooked.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      If the importance of party politics can be driven home to all the new young activists out there…

  7. DamnYankees says:

    I know I’ve been incredibly pessimistic about all this, but I can’t help shake the feeling that this doesn’t matter. Something is happening here that people (present company excluded, of course) really don’t want to face up to, which is the fact that we elected someone who really doesn’t give a shit about the rule of law. And Bannon is hammering it home.

    This was one of the things which most worried me about Trump during the primary season, and its one thing which *really* set him apart from other Republicans. Trump never even pretending to care about civic virtues. He never extolled the virtues of democracy, of freedom, of law, of the constitution. He never said anything good about these things, because he doesn’t care about that.

    That’s genuinely strange in American politics. Even people I despise – like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul – really seem to care about law and the constitution, *as ideas*. As things to refer to. If people remember back to 2008 and 2012, people who mock Romney for his weirdly pastoral homilies to the virtues of American goodness and the blessing that was our law and our constitution. It was funny. But at least Romney cared about it as an idea. Even Bush cared about it – we all remember how the White House Counsel’s office would write these memos talking about how torture was legal. While many of us saw that as appalling, the Bush administration at least recognized that law is important. And if you want to do bad shit, you at least need to justify it in the context of the law. Because the law, the constitution, our civic norms – that’s foundational.

    People need to understand that Trump is a genuine abberation here, and a staggeringly dangerous one.

    Law doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just run on its own. The existence of a legal system only matters if the people in charge of it actually care about it. Part of the success of democracy is that, historically, it has fostered a process whereby the people who are put in charge of institutions have a respect for the rule of law, and are bound by it – both at a moral level and institutionally.

    This simply doesn’t work if you elect people who don’t give a shit. If you put someone in charge of the police, in charge of the military, in charge of the very organs of state power, who *doesn’t care* about the rule of law, and appoints his deputies and their deputies on that basis, then the rule of law basically doesn’t matter. There’s nothing a judge or a legislature can do.

    Even liberal Americans, of which I consider myself a proud member, don’t seem to understand the extraordinary danger staring them in the face here.

    The wolves are in the house. We have had this process set up for centuries aimed at keeping the wolves out. But we let them in. And we have no idea how to get them out.

    • Rob in CT says:

      We’re teetering on the brink of “The Rule of Man” rather than the Rule of Law.

    • fernando says:

      On behalf of the government of Bhutan I wish to express our concern and worry for the corruption and human rights abuses in the USA. It is our sincere hope that you hold a national dialogue between the government and the opposition. I also regret to inform you that Americans trying to flee will be turned back at the Bhutan border.

      I also wish to inform you that King Bummidol II has agreed to visit the USA and attend, together with President Trump, a cricket game between the USA and Bhutan national teams, to establish closer ties between the two countries.

      Queen Dawala and her daughters will visit the USA at the same time, with Disney World, Elvis Presley’s home and a Las Vegas show being the highlights of their visit.

      Also, we would prefer to see all dissidents kept away from their Highnesses’s presence.

      Note: Bhutan is a key importer of USA coal, used clothes, and empty shipping containers. It is interested in increasing exports to the USA of Bhutanese products to reduce the current trade deficit between the two nations. Should this trend fail to be reversed his highness is considering a 20 % import tax on all USA products.


  8. Chip Daniels says:

    What we’ve learned is that Trump/Bannon admin. is extremely inept at building alliances and coalitions.
    This is a critical flaw, since any dictatorship needs to build at least a core that is continually protected and rewarded with favors to remain loyal.
    Since arriving on the scene, his core of support hasn’t grown larger, its grown smaller.

    He isn’t going to self-destruct, not without our determined help, but it is a weakness we can exploit.

    Also, while he distracts us with his outrageous petty insults, he himself is easily distracted. His fixation with Khzir family, the beauty queen woman, the Inauguration crowd size- these weren’t a sly playbook, this was Trump being pulled off message.

    Sometimes I see despairing leftists building him up to be an 11 dimensional chess master, when we need to keep him in proportion to what he is.

    • Solar System Wolf says:

      Very true. He’s in the bunker already and he’s hardly gotten started. Even the people he appointed to the cabinet positions are probably only there because someone told him he needed to pick some people. Just look at how he brushed past Kelly and Tillerson on this latest move, and how Bannon and Kushner are his real choices for everything.

    • Nick never Nick says:

      No one at all thinks Trump is an 11-dimensional chess master, everyone thinks he’s nuts. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a plan — it’s there, somewhere, and it’s crazy. The arguments are about what, if any, the actual plan is, and whose hands have gone into making it. The more Bannon gets into the mix, the wider the range of possibilities for the plan.

      It’s just a variation of the old ‘stupid or evil’ argument. If you think the incompetence is planned, then you’re opting for ‘evil’. If you think the incompetence is random, then ‘stupid’. Personally, I’m more in favour of the latter — Kevin Drum had a good argument over the weekend arguing that the ham-handedness of the Muslim ban was strategic, and aimed at creating clear lines for the base to rally around.

  9. DamnYankees says:

    I do not despair because he is playing 11 dimensional chess. This is a constant misreading of some of the opposition, like me.

    I don’t despair because he’s smart. I despair because he’s stupid and that might be enough. You don’t need to play the game brilliantly, 8 moves ahead. You just need to do enough that the people with the guns stay on your side.

    When our military and LEO officials turn on him, I’ll buy your argument. Until then, it’s worry all the way down.

    • Chip Daniels says:

      I’m thinking of those WWII posters that carefully tread the line between worry and hope.
      Any other time this would be hyperbole, but I do think its helpful to consider ourselves resistors to outright fascism, as the WWII generation were.
      Worry is good, concern and outrage are good, nervousness appropriate.

      But so is resolve, determination, grit and bravery of the kind where we speak up even when our voice quavers.

      We are not powerless, we aren’t helpless spectators, and we outnumber them

      We can win this fight.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        On the most basic level: we are 90% majority in the large cities, which also happen be the economic engines of the country. And at least from my own experience and what friends told me, police, who after all answers to mayors, went out of their way to be friendly to protesters. (Philly police chief was trolling “concerned travellers” on Twitter yesterday…)

        • humanoid.panda says:

          This is by the way something we should consider: Erdogan is probably best parallel to Trump. And one source of his power is that he can put millions of people on streets in major towns whenever he wants. Trump doesn’t have that ability.

    • West says:

      I share your existential fear, but I put it into different terms than your “he doesn’t give a shit” approach. I think it may be the case that Trump is a full-blown psychopath, which means he is 100% incapable of giving a shit: about other people’s pain, about suffering of anyone other than himself, about war, about nuclear exchanges. His absolute lack of compassion, his childish impulsiveness, his overweening ego and narcissism, his thin-skinned lashing back at criticism. I know it’s dangerous to make diagnoses from afar without the clinical background, so I acknowledge my lack of qualifications. But we’re talking about someone with the nuclear codes. And every single thing he’s done fits the pattern of a true psychopath. Experts say 1 of every 100 humans is a psychopath; I think one just got inaugurated president of the US, commander in chief of the most fearsome arsenal in history. If 25 million or more people die due to his impulsive ego, he will be no more capable of caring about that than he cares about stepping on a cockroach. He can’t care about it, his DNA is missing something. I could change my skin instantly from euro-pasty to deepest African black more easily than Trump could ever bring himself to feel the first twinge of empathy about any human being not named Donald Trump.

      Within the history books, a characteristic of all populations is that there’s a depressing percentage of people who love following psychopaths because of internal tendencies that cause them to lean in that direction, and weakly aspire to it. Unconsciously aware of their own inability to throw off compassion and be purely cruel, they follow the psychopath with joy, and emulate him. Also, there’s another large cohort of any population who are predisposed to be easy marks for a con man, and psychopaths are always con men. Lastly, there’s a third group who will self-bully themselves into silence at the sight of a psychopath with a following. All of them add up to millions in the US. Some of them wear uniforms and have been waiting for this day (which is not me saying I believe ALL people in uniform are that way).

      We’re way beyond just a very terrible person. I think we are dealing with a person from that 1% of the population who are by definition the most dangerous of all people, the sort who must never be allowed into power. And he’s the President.

      This is not to suggest easing off on resistance. To the contrary, it must be stepped up as best as we all can; I’m trying, getting more politically active than ever before in my life. But it is really grim.

      I lived near Three Mile Island when the accident happened. Experienced hearing the Emergency Warning System kick in on all radios in mid-song, with none of the usual “this is a test, this is just a test” prep. Pulled over to listen, considered that perhaps the missiles were flying. An “incident” at TMI almost felt like a reprieve, until later. Then I moved to CA for the tail end of the Cold War, and experienced the Loma Prieta. I am slipping back into the mode of “this could all end today.” Have to avoid fatalistic passivity and use it instead to fight. It could indeed end today, but it’s not certain to end either today or tomorrow, so we have to GET THIS MOTHERFUCKER OUT.

      It’s not “He doesn’t give a shit”, which implies choice on his part, it’s “He can’t give a shit”, which puts the choice on the rest of us.

      • DamnYankees says:

        Did you respond to the right person? I agree with all of this. I don’t think I ever said that he doesn’t give a shit.

        • West says:

          whoops, it was your previous comment up-thread, in which you started off with a tossed off comment saying “we elected someone who really doesn’t give a shit about the rule of law.”

          Clumsy of me.

  10. NewishLawyer says:

    I’m on the cynical side here still but am heartened by the opposition/resistance.

    However, Trump is still wildly popular among Republicans. IIRC his approval rating among the GOP/GOP base is 81 percent. Chait warned about this a while ago, even before the primaries. His theory is that we were headed for an era where Presidents remain highly popular within their own party and highly unpopular with the opposition.

    At best, this means Trump and possibly successive Presidents each get a term before the rage on the other side wins and/or the incumbent decides not to run because they are accomplishing nothing.

    I also suspect that the Republicans are true believers that no they are operating on limited time and are going to ram their views or as much of them down the American public’s throat.

    • humanoid.panda says:

      One important caveat to what you say: 81% percent is not so great for a president in the first week of his administration. W left office with 75% approval from Republicans (he did dip into the 60s in the summer of 08).

  11. vic rattlehead says:

    If we had a sane Republican Party, they would recognize that Trump has lost his legitimacy to govern and impeach him. Alas, party before country.

    If we have history in the next few decades, the Republican congressional leadership (in particular Ryan and McConnell) deserve to go down as von Hindenburg figures at best (and only because I’m feeling generous).

    And once again, I repeat, James Comey is an accessory before the fact to any and all crimes against humanity under Trump.

    What would really punish Trump is a damnatio memoriae fate, but we can’t let this country forget what they did. 62.9 million people have blood on their hands.

    • Rob in CT says:

      Well, if we had a sane Republican party, Trump would’ve been run out of their primaries with a single-digit vote %.

      • vic rattlehead says:

        Sigh. I concede the point!

      • DamnYankees says:

        I am genuinely unclear what would have to happen for Trump to lose GOP support. I think it would have to be something like actual leaked audio of him talking about conspiring with Russia, or him talking about the “white trash” who elected him or something. There’d need to be 100% rock solid evidence that he had betrayed them. Not merely that he’s doing things bad for them, but that’s he’s consciously conning them.

        I doubt this evidence exists (or is true, to be honest).

        • Rob in CT says:

          His I could shoot someone on 5th avenue line was the truest thing he’s ever said.

          The key here is going to be peeling off some of the people who really disliked him but voted for him anyway (ugh) + (moreso) getting more people who don’t like him to show up and vote against him.

          His “base” will never learn.

          Bush the Lesser left office with high approval ratings amongst Republicans. But IIRC the # of Republicans had shrunk.

          • DamnYankees says:

            If his base never learns, then the GOP will never turn on him. That’s my point; I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

            • Rob in CT says:

              I was agreeing with you.

              • DamnYankees says:

                Well, kind of, because you said the key is to peel off the leaners. My point is I fear that’s insufficient. I don’t have much confidence than a 60-40 coalition against Trump will be sufficient in the real world where the 40% control the security apparatus of the country.

                • Rob in CT says:

                  Well, I think that it’s 2/3 or maybe 3/4 getting apathetic people to show up next time and 1/4 to 1/3 flipping fools back over.

                  I don’t have much confidence than a 60-40 coalition against Trump will be sufficient in the real world where the 40% control the security apparatus of the country.

                  60-40 would be a landslide the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.

                • DamnYankees says:

                  60-40 would be a landslide the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.

                  If they are allowed to vote.

        • vic rattlehead says:

          I realize a military coup would be horrible for American democracy, but-at what point does the brass moving against Trump/Bannon become preferable to trying to white knuckle it to 2018/20? They’re already doing some scary stuff.

          I don’t want a military junta, but I’ll take a sane General seizing power over an “elected” ethnonationalist. Beats a second holocaust.

          • Rob in CT says:

            I realize a military coup would be horrible for American democracy

            It would destroy the village in order to save it.

            [Which is Bannon’s thing]

            And I see no evidence that “The Military” is anti-Trump.

            • vic rattlehead says:

              Yeah I know that Bannon wants to tear it all down. I don’t want our institutions destroyed but my primary concern right now is avoiding genocide. That may sound silly to some but Bannon is very much laying the groundwork for ethnic cleansing. Not so subtly for anyone paying attention and knowledgeable of history.

          • ΧΤΠΔ says:

            In this case we’re assuming Mad Dog also incapacitates Pence, ZEGS, and Hatch.

            • vic rattlehead says:

              As I said above, I would happily settle for President Hatch at this point. Ryan has proven himself spineless and thus in my view unfit to succeed the man he enabled.

              Hatch hasn’t exactly been outspoken against Trump but neither is he Speaker or Majority Leader.

          • DamnYankees says:

            I have no desire for a military coup. That way lies madness. We should not be rootinf for this.

            But I would have no objection to people like those serving on the joint chiefs and other leading members of the military publicly voicing their opposition.

            • vic rattlehead says:

              I’m not rooting for it. But if the alternative is genocide then it’s the least bad outcome.

              • JohnT says:

                I think the endpoint for white ethno-nationalists is much more like an apartheid state, rather than actual genocide. They just have to make voting difficult/impossible for 5-10% more people and they are set. Each move would have GOP support, and each move would so closely resemble past GOP moves (plus they would be happening invisibly at state level) that the military wouldn’t dream of becoming involved. It’s all very doable, and bloodshed would not help. White South Africa and the Old South only killed a relatively small number of non-voting labour units.

                Seriously, the only defense against this approach seems to be the utter incompetence of the Trump administration. For example, including both Green Card holders and people in transit forced relatively large numbers (OK, a dozen) of GOP lawmakers to speak out.

        • sibusisodan says:

          I’m my more pessimistic moments, I don’t believe that any evidence of Trump’s past acts could cause him to lose support. Not even contempt for his voting Base.

          What will lose him support is an appearance of weakness and failure. But that would require his team to be hilariously incompetent over a longish period of time, while pissing off anyone with a stake in forming their image (the media)…

        • efgoldman says:

          I am genuinely unclear what would have to happen for Trump to lose GOP support.

          In terms of elected politicians, if they clearly see that they are going to go down with him. “Party over country” also means “I have to get re-elected.” It’s too early now for the 2018 calculus to enter into it, but the fingers are in the wind.

        • (((Malaclypse))) says:

          I am genuinely unclear what would have to happen for Trump to lose GOP support

          Live boy or dead girl, and I’m not at all sure a dead girl would do it.

  12. Crusty says:

    Depending on the numbers, its possible that impeaching Trump for Pence could become a re-election strategy of sorts. I prefer Pence in office to Trump because he’s slightly saner and he lacks the charisma to mobilize people like Trump. He still has a little bit of shame about saying the quiet parts out loud, alternative facts, etc. And so if it looks like Trump is gonna be a strong loser in 2020, perhaps sometime in late 2018, they’ll impeach Trump so as to say behold our great integritude, and also to give Pence a little bit of a veil of incumbency. On the other hand, they might say loser in 2020? Attorney General Sessions and Director Comey tell us that isn’t happening.

  13. Yankee says:

    I was pleased to verify that Mad Dog would have to sign off on any nuclear strike order. Theoretically that’s just identity verification, but it’s a choke point. We hang by threads, these days.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    The election was razor close. We do not have to peel off any of the Republican base. And there is a large mobilization of 35 and unders in progress, and I think that will eventuate in a significant increase in voting. Also there is no indication that Bannon is capable of building anything; his “skill” is creating chaos. And I don’t see any Bannon brownshirts in the streets trying to attack demonstrators; how do you create a fascist regime without them? I don’t mean to be Pollyanna- the situation is very serious- but there is no cause for some of the gloom and doom I’m seeing.

    • Rob in CT says:

      The worry (which I share, a bit) is that there’s no need for brownshirts if the police & other security state people are onboard.

      I still hope that they’re not all that awful, but I have doubts.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        How many arrests were there at airports- highly securitized facilities- yesterday? My daughter was at the Cleveland demo yesterday, and I didn’t need to bail her out. Let’s not be pre-emptively afraid, because it’s the best gift we can give the wannabee fascists.

        • Rob in CT says:

          Fair point (and HP made the same one)!

        • q-tip says:

          I decided not to go to the LAX protest yesterday for a bunch of reasons, including not being ready to get arrested right now (it’s a frickin’ airport). Was heartened to see there were no arrests even though the protest stopped traffic at some points and there was a threat, late in the evening, of the cops clearing people out.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        The worry (which I share, a bit) is that there’s no need for brownshirts if the police & other security state people are onboard.

        As I said above, this is early, but the evidence from the first week is that the police, at least in large cities, is going out of their way to avoid confrontation. This might be simply because the people in the streets are white, which sucks, but you know, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have the affluent middle classes out in the street protesting.

        • so-in-so says:

          OTOH, reports from some of the airports are that CBP and local police refused to acknowledge a federal judges order to give detainees access to lawyers who were on the property, and the leadership on-site refused to even meet with Congressmen who came there to investigate. So parts of the legal apparatus already seem primed to follow Trump to dictatorship without any but the slightest acknowledgement to the rule of law itself.

        • It’s not the worst thing in the world to make sure protest stays framed as something normal, either, and the public doesn’t adopt the idea that large gatherings of people are already essentially riots and have to be shut down.

          It sucks that middle class white people helps that reaction but I think it can ultimately help prevent knee-jerk reactions to all protests.

          • Steve LaBonne says:

            This is what privileged people making constructive use of our privilege looks like.

            • q-tip says:

              A good amount of twitter commentary around organizing protests at airports this weekend ran along these lines: people with iffy immigration status should hang back from protesting and people who can handle the consequences should step up. (As I mentioned above, I, white dude citizen, didn’t step up by hitting the streets, but I had reasons I considered valid and tried to make up for it with a few shekels donated to CAIR and ACLU.)

  15. tsam says:

    In the midst of all this fuckery, we get a look at some people doing some real good in the world:

    Hundreds of lawyers descended on U.S. airports this weekend to offer free legal assistance to travelers and family members of those affected by Trump’s order. Elise Viebeck and Michael Laris report: “By Saturday afternoon, arrival terminals in airports from Dulles, Va., to Chicago to San Francisco were being turned into makeshift hubs for legal aid. Lawyers assembled conference-style tables in restaurants and gathered around electrical outlets with their laptops awaiting work. Some held signs near arrivals gates introducing themselves to families in need. Social justice groups also circulated calls for help. “There’s been a call for LEGAL support at #JFK airport,” the New York City chapter of Black Lives Matter tweeted … ‘If you’re a lawyer folks on the ground are requesting you.’ Soon, lawyers had set up a base outside the terminal’s Central Diner restaurant.”

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      And there will be plenty of resources available to them. On top of already big donations to the ACLU since Friday, Google just announced the creation of a $4 million fund to support that and other organizations fighting for immigrants and refugees. It may be distasteful to our leftist purity trolls, but a big chunk of corporate America that is not down with Bannonite fascism. And in an emergency like this you take all the allies you can get.

      • TopsyJane says:

        It may be distasteful to our leftist purity trolls, but a big chunk of corporate America that is not down with Bannonite fascism.

        I wonder how down with it they would be if it didn’t affect the travel plans of their labor force. Also they want to be able to import cheap labor. However, the enemy of my enemy, etc.

        • Hogan says:

          Almost all political conflict, especially in the US, boils down to a fight between the Sane Billionaires and the Insane Billionaires. It generally follows this template:

          INSANE BILLIONAIRES: Let’s kill everyone and take their money!

          SANE BILLIONAIRES: I like the way you think. I really do. But if we keep everyone alive, and working for us, we’ll make even more money, in the long term.

          INSANE BILLIONAIRES: You communist!!!

          So from a progressive perspective, you always have to hope the Sane Billionaires win. Still, there’s generally a huge chasm between what the Sane Billionaires want and what progressives want.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          When I see a neo-Nazi running the government you better believe I’m in full-on enemy of my enemy mode.

  16. DrDick says:

    For what it is worth, that image is now my Facebook picture.

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