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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 17, 2017

 
Dear Gail Collins 

by tristero

First of all, I very much enjoy your columns for the NY Times and often find myself laughing out loud as I read them. That is a Very Good Thing (tm) right now, when there is so little to laugh at. But today, apropos Donald Trump, when you write:
We had no idea how bad this guy was going to be. Admit it — during the campaign you did not consider the possibility that if a terrible tragedy struck the country involving all of our worst political ghosts of the past plus neo-Nazism, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would know the appropriate thing to say but Donald Trump would have no idea.
I can only respond that yes, I did know how bad this guy was going to be. Nearly every one of my friends did. The only exceptions were people like you, professional journalists.

But not just any old professional journalists. To be very clear, the only people I know who are in the least bit surprised at how awful Trump would be are top journalists, my talented, hard-working reporter/editor friends who have won major prizes - including the Pulitzer - and who work for major media - including, dear Gail, your own paper.

So the "we" you are talking about, the only ones with any intelligence who somehow convinced themselves that Trump would - what's the phrasing? oh, yes, "pivot" and "become presidential" on January 20. Despite clear evidence that he was a racist, an anti-Semite (despite his son-in-law), more ignorant of world affairs than a deer tick who grew up in solitary confinement, and thoroughly corrupt and incompetent. Every single friend of mine could see what was coming quite clearly - except for those of you who toil for the mainstream media.

I assume this is just groupthink. Like every other other cohort, journalists mostly talk to other journalists and form a group consensus about things that concern the group. But had you truly listened to any of your non-journalist friends instead of dismissing them as just misinformed civilians with a blatantly liberal bias, you wouldn't be the slightest bit gobsmacked at what's going on- and you'd be doing a much better job of reporting it..

But ironies of ironies, when it comes to national political trends, mainstream journalists as a group often don't listen carefully, especially when it comes to hearing out the concerns of liberals, scientists, and other normal people. Even the New Yorker's David Remnick - no dummy - fell for George Bush's lies about Iraq partly because he wouldn't listen to clear, evidence-based voices that debunked those lies but fell outside the purview of his mainstream journalist vision. And just two days ago, the New York Times fell for rightwing false equivalence framing by publishing before his obscene press conference a disgraceful article that could easily be construed as equating a few shoving counter-protestors in Charlottesville with the violence of the Nazis.

Sadly, if you actually read this letter (very unlikely, I know), you'll surely dismiss it, or vigorously defend your colleagues. Many of us have failed when we've tried to tell our journalist friends that they are being played for suckers by rightwing liars and mountebanks masquerading as sober, reasonable, serious people.

Sure, afterwards, after the Iraq debacle was clearly a catastrophe, after Trump received billions in free publicity, the mainstream media published mea culpas - and then fell again for the next set of rightwing talking points and lies.

So, Gail, because I so admire your work, I urge you to listen to your non-journalists friends, the ones who strike you as thoroughly cynical about the GOP and the rightwing - and not just the Nazis, but the Ryans and the Kasich's, too.

Unlike you and your peers, we believe Trump, his cronies, and most of the nationally prominent GOP are extremely dangerous and have no incentive to mitigate their extremism. And we know - absolutely know - that far worse lies ahead. These people have barely started.

Much love and great respect,

tristero
 
He holds his breath until he turns blue

by digby



Good lord, he's worse than I thought:

President Donald Trump’s decision to double down on his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do.

Trump’s temper has been a constant force in this eight-month-old White House. He’s made policy decisions after becoming irritated with staffers and has escalated fights in the past few weeks with everyone from the Senate majority leader to the volatile dictator of North Korea.


The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting.”

For Trump, anger serves as a way to manage staff, express his displeasure or simply as an outlet that soothes him. Often, aides and advisers say, he’ll get mad at a specific staffer or broader situation, unload from the Oval Office and then three hours later act as if nothing ever occurred even if others still feel rattled by it. Negative television coverage and lawyers earn particular ire from him.

White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticizes him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him.


That latter trigger — of attempting to corral him — set in motion the past five tense days surrounding Charlottesville. On Saturday, the president failed to condemn white supremacists, who had marched through the city shouting anti-Semitic chants and assaulting counterprotesters. One of them killed a 32-year-old woman and injured roughly 20 others when he rammed his car at a high speed into a crowd.

Under intense pressure from aides and fellow Republican lawmakers, whose support the president needs to advance his agenda, Trump gave a more conciliatory speech on Monday. He clarified that he does not support specifically the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, but then he backtracked to his more defiant stance just 24 hours later during an impromptu news conference at Trump Tower, meant to focus on infrastructure.

“I do think there is blame — yes, I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said, equating the actions of the white supremacists with the other protesters. Hate group leaders like David Duke saw the comments as yet another sign of the president’s support.

The majority of Trump’s top aides, with the notable exception of Steve Bannon, had been encouraging Trump to put to an end this damaging news cycle and talk that makes him seem sympathetic to groups that widely decry Jews, minorities and women. But the president did not want to be told what to do and seemed in high spirits on Tuesday evening, even as headlines streamed out about his seeming overtures to hate groups, according to one White House adviser who spoke to him.

The president “thinks he's right. He still thinks he's right,” an adviser said.

He's not right. In the head.

Get a load of this:


But in this White House, Trump’s anger isn’t just a side detail for stories about the various warring ideological factions, or who’s up and down in the West Wing. Instead, that anger and its rallying cry helped to fuel his rise to the White House, and now Trump uses it as a way to govern, present himself to the American public and even create policy.

In one stark example, the president’s dislike of being told what to do played a role in his decision to abruptly ban all transgender people from the military: a move opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, and the head of the Coast Guard, who vowed not to honor the president’s decree.

The president had grown tired of White House lawyers telling him what he could and could not do on the ban and numerous other issues such as labor regulations, said one informal White House adviser. While multiple factors were in play with the transgender ban, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by the lawyers’ calls for further study and caution, so he took it upon himself to tweet out the news of the ban, partly as a reminder to the lawyers who’s in charge, the adviser said.

“For Trump, there came a moment where he wanted to re-establish that he was going to do what he was going to do,” said the adviser, who knows both the president and members of the staff. “He let his lawyers know that it’s his job to make decisions and their job to figure out how to implement it.”

This is not correct. The lawyers are there to tell him what's legal and illegal. He seems to think that isn't relevant.

Jesus.

Paul Krugman had it right when he tagged Trump as this guy:



.
 

Poor little fascist

by Tom Sullivan

Typical bully. Loud talk, brash talk when he thinks he is dominant in the interaction. Not so tough when the power dynamic is not stacked in his favor by firearms and numbers.

Time reports that Facebook yesterday shut down Christopher Cantwell's Facebook and Instagram accounts after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. Cantwell featured prominently in a documentary on the protest produced by Vice. (You should watch it.)

Cantwell displays the arsenal he carries to be “ready for violence” at peaceful demonstatrations. He tells Vice he considers the car attack justified that killed 32-year old Heather Heyer on Saturday. In a later, personal video, Cantwell wipes away tears at the prospect of facing arrest (unconfirmed) over his participation in the Charlottesville protest.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Cantwell as a "36-year-old self-proclaimed fascist" who from his home in Keene, New Hampshire hosts the call-in talk show, "Radical Agenda," streamed on Facebook and UStream three days a week:

On his show and in mordant essays published on his website Christophercantwell.com, this 36-year-old self-proclaimed fascist – whose style borrows from such mainstream shock jocks as Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony — argues for an Anglo ethno state free of African-Americans, Jews and non-white immigrants, save, perhaps, for the occasional exception.

In Cantwell’s world, Blacks are prone to violence and have lower IQs; Jews spread communism and can’t be trusted; immigrants are outbreeding whites; and a race war is all but inevitable.
“I want to be peaceful. I want to be law-abiding. That was the whole entire point of this,” Cantwell states in his personal video. “I’m watching CNN talk about this as a violent, white nationalist protest. We have done everything in our power to keep this peaceful!” he insists.

Including coming armed to the teeth. You know, just in case. Zenobia Jeffries of Yes! magazine rolls her eyes at such nonsense repeated by media outlets,"What happened in Charlottesville was white nationalist extremists inciting a riot."

David Frum, writing for The Atlantic, decries the broadening, open display of firearms as weapons of intimidation:
But take care: As David Graham has observed here at The Atlantic, the right to carry arms is America’s most unequally upheld right. Ohio is an open-carry state. Yet Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old, was shot dead in Cleveland within seconds of being observed carrying what proved to be a pellet gun. John Crawford was shot dead for moving around an Ohio Walmart with an air rifle he had picked up from a display shelf. Minnesota allows concealed-carry permit-holders to open carry if they wish—yet Minnesotan Philando Castile was killed after merely telling a police officer he had a legal gun in his car.

On the other hand, every white man who played vigilante in Charlottesville this weekend went home unharmed to his family, having successfully overawed the police—and having sent a chilling message of warning to lawful protesters.

No other democracy on Earth tolerates such antics. When libertarian-minded Americans lament the over-militarization of police, they might give some thought to what it takes to police a society where potential lawbreakers think it their right to accumulate force that would do credit to a Somali warlord. And not only accumulate it, but carry that force into public to brandish against fellow citizens who think differently from their local paramilitaries.
"Free speech" backed by threat of violence is not only anti-American, it is vile and as cowardly as Cantwell. Openly display of weaponry is not a celebration of freedom, but immaturity. Maybe after drying his tears, buying yet another weapon will soothe his nerves.

There have been many requests for people to look themselves in the mirror after the Charlottesville violence. What is there isn't pretty. If antifa members are as morally superior as they believe, they'll look themselves in the mirror too and leave their sticks and mace and masks at home.

"You're not so tough without your car, are ya?" – quote from Kindergarten Cop.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 
They can always get him on tax evasion

by Dennis Hartley




I’ve been trying to process President Trump’s insane “impromptu” press conference yesterday, in which the leader of the free world obstinately stood his ground in tacit support of the odious ideology that fueled the tragedy in Charlottesville. I have never witnessed any presidential press conference quite like this one in my lifetime:




You know who he’s really beginning to remind me of? I know what you’re thinking…but Hitler and Mussolini are too easy; I’m thinking in terms of form, over content. I think he’s modelling himself (consciously or subconsciously) after underworld kingpin Al Capone.

Think about it. Trump, like fellow native New Yorker Capone was wont to do, revels in public attention, and the more outrageous and/or egregious his misdeeds, the more unapologetic his public stance. Granted, Trump hasn’t murdered anyone (that we know of), but shares a gangster’s intuition for opportunistic profiteering.

That’s why Trump’s base loves him. He’s a natural-born outlaw:



As the historian notes in the clip, regarding Capone’s bluster:

“…he’s not going to deny that he’s a bootlegger; he’s not ashamed of being a criminal.”

And as “Capone” himself confides to the viewer:

“Those twits kept trying to nail me, and came up with squat. Of course, they didn’t have enough evidence to bring me to trial.”

Remind you of anyone else who calls impromptu press conferences, ostensibly to strut about and tout their ill-gained prestige, amazing accomplishments, and gloat over the inability of the law to nail ’em?

General Kelly? Sir, we feel you. We really do.


 
Fox News is Trump's brain

by digby




If you want to know where he gets his misinformation, this clears it up:




He has the entire federal government at his disposal. This is who he listens to. And so do his followers.

And if you're wondering about how this alternate universe is organized, take a look at this:
THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SHOOK the foundations of American politics. Media reports immediately looked for external disruption to explain the unanticipated victory—with theories ranging from Russian hacking to “fake news.”

We have a less exotic, but perhaps more disconcerting explanation: Our own study of over 1.25 million stories published online between April 1, 2015 and Election Day shows that a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world. This pro-Trump media sphere appears to have not only successfully set the agenda for the conservative media sphere, but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.

While concerns about political and media polarization online are longstanding, our study suggests that polarization was asymmetric. Pro-Clinton audiences were highly attentive to traditional media outlets, which continued to be the most prominent outlets across the public sphere, alongside more left-oriented online sites. But pro-Trump audiences paid the majority of their attention to polarized outlets that have developed recently, many of them only since the 2008 election season.

Attacks on the integrity and professionalism of opposing media were also a central theme of right-wing media. Rather than “fake news” in the sense of wholly fabricated falsities, many of the most-shared stories can more accurately be understood as disinformation: the purposeful construction of true or partly true bits of information into a message that is, at its core, misleading. Over the course of the election, this turned the right-wing media system into an internally coherent, relatively insulated knowledge community, reinforcing the shared worldview of readers and shielding them from journalism that challenged it. The prevalence of such material has created an environment in which the President can tell supporters about events in Sweden that never happened, or a presidential advisor can reference a non-existent “Bowling Green massacre.”

We began to study this ecosystem by looking at the landscape of what sites people share. If a person shares a link from Breitbart, is he or she more likely also to share a link from Fox News or from The New York Times? We analyzed hyperlinking patterns, social media sharing patterns on Facebook and Twitter, and topic and language patterns in the content of the 1.25 million stories, published by 25,000 sources over the course of the election, using Media Cloud, an open-source platform for studying media ecosystems developed by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and MIT’s Center for Civic Media.

When we map media sources this way, we see that Breitbart became the center of a distinct right-wing media ecosystem, surrounded by Fox News, the Daily Caller, the Gateway Pundit, the Washington Examiner, Infowars, Conservative Treehouse, and Truthfeed.
Read the rest.

Breitbart is the center of the right wing universe. It's former editor, Steve Bannon is in the White House and is still affiliated with the site.

I don't think he's going anywhere.

.




 
You know who else was really into aesthetics

by digby

A movement of good looking clean-cut men




Elle Reeve, who made that Vice documentary about the Charlottesville rally was on Nicole Wallace's show and had some very interesting insights into this movement.  She has followed up with some of the people she interviewed and Wallace asked her what their next steps are. She said:
They want to avoid PR disasters like killing a person. But they also want to focus on aesthetics. That means getting rid of swastikas because they call that a dead ideology so there's no point in bringing that out.  
They also want to cut out, as they call it, white trash. They want to look like a middle class movement with clean cut good looking men. Its a movement focused on aesthetics. They want to look like successful people so that people want to join them.

When asked why it is they are so willing to show their faces on camera:
They feel emboldened by the events of the last year of political events. But they also have the internet. And that means that they can fund-raise from their supporters. There's a site called researcher than can raise money for an alt-right cause, they can raise a hundred thousand dollars overnight. So they don't have to depend on normal jobs anymore. They don't have to worry about getting fired for their vile beliefs. 
Is the "alt-right" distinct from white supremacy?
Only in tactics and the audience they're looking for. They are not burning crosses. They are using social media. They're using jokes and memes. They want to portray themselves as witty as intellectual as appealing to college students and not people that you would associate with racist movement of the past.

This is not new, actually. The original fascist movements were also extremely focused on aesthetics and wished to portray themselves as "clean-cut, good looking men." In fact, it's a hallmark of the ideology:






.


 
Baltimore FTW

by digby





Crews quietly removed Baltimore’s Confederate monuments early Wednesday, days after deadly unrest in Charlottesville as white nationalists rallied to defend a statue in that city.

The sudden removal of four statues, without fanfare or advance notice, marks an attempt by Baltimore leaders to avoid a long, bruising conflict that has embroiled Charlottesville and other communities rethinking how they honor figures who fought to preserve slavery.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) announced Monday she was in talks with contractors to haul away the statues, and the city council approved a removal plan that night. Some activists had vowed to destroy the monuments before the government could act.

The Jackson-Lee Monument in Wyman Park is removed Wednesday morning. (Denise Sanders/The Baltimore Sun)
Photos and video on social media Wednesday morning showed crews using cranes to remove statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, then hauling them away on a flatbed truck. Statues honoring Confederate women and Roger B. Taney, the former chief justice who authored the notorious proslavery Dred Scott decision, also were removed.

This is smart. Just do it, don't talk about it. These statues are gathering places for Nazis now. Move them out to a museum or some kind of Slavery Memorial where they can be used to teach about the civil war. But no more public displays celebrating he confederacy. They mostly put them up to defy the civil rights movement. It's long past time to take them down.


.
 
"This is not the end of Heather's legacy"
by digby



Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, gave an amazing eulogy today:
My child's famous Facebook post was, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." 
She paid attention. She made a lot of us pay attention. Oh, my gosh, dinner with her, we knew it was going to be an ordeal of listening. And conversation. And perhaps disagreement, but it was going to happen. 
And so my husband would say, okay, I'm going to go out in the car and play on my video game for a while and we would sit and grill and she and I would talk and I would listen and we would negotiate and I would listen and we talked about all the stuff. 
We talked about politics. We talked about anything that caught her eye that she felt was fair, unfair, she would talk about her feelings about the office, and how things were going. She just talked. The girl loved to talk and she was single, so there was nobody to listen at home, so mama got a lot of it. And that was wonderful. 
You never think you're going to bury your child. You never think to take those pictures, they ask me for pictures for this and I struggled. 
I had pictures from her childhood. But I had to go to Facebook to find pictures of my child because we were always together. I saw her a couple of times a month at least and we would text each other fairly often and Facebook message at bed time, I love you, I love you, you're doing okay? Yep, I love you.

So I have no regrets on that part. Take pictures of the ones that you love because you don't know when they're not going to be there. 
But here's what I want to say to you today. This could be a storm in a tea cup and could all be for nothing. This -- I could have said, look, let's don't do this publicly, let's have a small private funeral, but, you know, that's not who Heather was. Anybody who knew Heather said, yeah, this is the way she had to go, big and large. Had to have the world involved because that's my child. She's just that way. Always has been. And she will continue to be. 
Because here's the message. Although Heather was a caring and compassionate person, so were a lot of you. A lot of you go that extra mile. And I think the reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. We don't all have to die. We don't all have to sacrifice our lives.
They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what, you just magnified her. [ cheers and applause ]
Thank you. Thank you. So here's what I want to happen. You ask me what can I do? So many caring people, pages of pages I'm going through, I'm reading pages of pages of pages how she is touching the world.
I want this to spread. I don't want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy. This is not the end of Heather's legacy. 
You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. What is there that I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see and what to turn away, I don't want to get involved in that, I don't want to speak up, they'll be annoyed with me, my boss might think less of me. I don't care. You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done and you make it happen. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world. 
My child had a high school education, my child was no saint. She was hard to raise, because everything was a negotiation. Not kidding. 
But, you know what, she was a firm believer in whatever she believed. And let's do that. Let's find that spark of conviction. Let's find in ourselves that action. Let's spread this. Let's have the uncomfortable dialogue. 
It ain't easy sitting down and saying, well, why are you upset? It ain't easy sitting down and going, yeah, well, I think this way and I don't agree with you. But I'm going to respectfully listen to what you have to say. We're not going to sit around and shake hands and go Kumbaya and I'm sorry, it is not all about forgiveness. I know that's not a popular trend. 
But the truth is, we are going to have our differences, we are going to be angry with each other, but let's channel that not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let's channel that difference, that anger into righteous action. 
Right now, down the road, there is a blood drive going on in Heather's name. Right now, there are people who are here willing to listen to one another and talk to one another. Last night in New England they had a peaceful rally in Heather's name to have some difficult dialogues.
If you ever want to see one of those dialogues look like, look at her Facebook post. I'm telling you, they were rough sometimes. But they were dialogues. And the conversations have to happen. That's the only way we're going to carry Heather's spark through. 
So, remember in your heart, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. And I want you to pay attention, find what's wrong, don't ignore it, don't look the other way, you make a point to look at it, and say to yourself, what can I do to make a difference? And that's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile. I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I got to give her up, we're going to make it count.


 
The hate burns bright

by digby

If you marched with this you aren't a good person


I wrote about you-know-what for Salon this morning:

While we've been polarized over many issues in our society over the last 70 years or so, if there was one thing we could truly say was a consensus position among Americans of all political stripes it was that Nazis are bad and that decent people shun them.

Our president made it clear yesterday, once and for all, that he doesn't agree with that.

Over the week-end he had issued a very weak condemnation of the horrific events in Charlottesville, insisting that "many sides" were responsible for the violence. 48 hours later, after tremendous public criticism, came forward with an obviously insincere rote denunciation of white supremacy, Nazis and the KKK. But he couldn't leave it at that. It's clearly impossible for him to even pretend to condemn far right white supremacists with whom he obviously feels sympathy so on Tuesday Donald Trump turned around and held a press conference in which he once again condemned counter-protesters and insisted that all the "good people" who were simply protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee had been treated abominably.

Rachel Maddow put together a voice-over of his comments with a montage of all those "good people":




If you carried a torch with those Nazis, if you marched alongside them as they chanted "Jews will not replace us" and "blood and soil" you are not a "very fine person." You are, at best, a Nazi sympathizer. At worst, you are a Nazi.  If you stood and chanted with men and women who wore hoods emblazoned with confederate flags you are a KKK sympathizer. If you stand up for these people's good intentions and walk in solidarity with their "defense of cultural heritage" you are at least a fellow traveler in white supremacy, more likely a white supremacist yourself.

Nobody marching with that crowd is a decent person, nobody.

President Trump made clear that he believes the Nazis who went on to the campus of the University of Virginia on Friday night are just regular folks with a legitimate grievance "innocently" protesting. This is the final proof, as if we needed any at this late date, that his ignorance knows no bounds.

It's probable that Trump has no knowledge of this because he has no knowledge of virtually anything but his own press clippings, but the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the march, knew very well what image he was evoking with that march on Friday night  --- Nazi torchlight parades such as this one:




Trump doesn't only have a woeful lack of understanding about why people would be appalled and upset at the sight of hundreds of white (mostly) men carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans, he also portrayed them as good people protecting their "history" and their "culture" indicating that idiotic earlier comments such as when he absurdly said “people don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War, why could that one not have been worked out?” were a pretty good indication of his lack of education on the subject. (He also seemed to think that Frederick Douglass is still alive.)

He clearly has no understanding of the complexity of the issues at hand but more importantly, all signs point to him being in direct sympathy with the Nazi-KKK contingent. When asked by one of the reporters if he placed white supremacists and the counter-protesters on the same moral plane, he replied, "I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane." That is obvious. He is completely without moral authority. Indeed, it's not clear that he has any morals at all.

But we already knew that, didn't we? This is a person who has shown over and over again that he's racist, misogynist and xenophobic. There's little need to recapitulate it all now. His obtuse reaction to Charlottesville is really just the latest in a long string of behaviors that should have made him unelectable but actually helped him win.

Vice filmed the events in Charlottesville over the week-end for an HBO documentary that aired on Tuesday and which you can watch on Youtube. It's a frightening film but one of the most chilling realizations as you watch it is the fact that so many of these white supremacists are so heavily armed. Considering that the NRA was the advocacy group most passionately supportive of Trump, this makes sense.

 In fact, since the election they have been relentlessly pushing the idea that it's the left that's violent and the right needs to protect itself and prepare to fight back. This was also a subtle theme of Trump's remarks on Tuesday in which he repeatedly stated that the "alt-left" was the aggressor in Charlottesville.

Trump's biggest fan was thrilled:




People at his rallies cheered "the wall" and shouted "hang the bitch" and pushed African American protesters around on national TV and everyone who voted for him saw it. People unfurled confederate flags and  supporters shouted Nazi slogans. Many people noted the shadow of white supremacy hanging over the campaign including Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton who gave a speech almost exactly a year ago on the subject of the "alt-right" in which she said:
Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.

On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant. “We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,” one white supremacist said. Duke laughed. There’s still more work to do, he said.

No one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here. The names may have changed… Racists now call themselves “racialists.” White supremacists now call themselves “white nationalists.” The paranoid fringe now calls itself “alt-right.” But the hate burns just as bright.
Thanks to the man who defeated her and who is now working to normalize Nazism in America, it’s burning brighter every day.



 

Flags of the defeated

by Tom Sullivan


Huntsville, Ala.: “Heroes fell … in defence of the principles which gave birth to the Confederate cause.” Which principles? Image via Twitter.

One has to wonder why the flags and icons of defeated, racist regimes are cherished among the alt-right's self-described patriots. The answer is simple. Because the alt-right represents the former, not the latter. So does the sitting president.

Answering press questions in New York yesterday, the president of the United States gave aid and comfort to racists, white nationalists, and bigots worldwide. The families of the innocent dead and injured in Charlottesville will wait. What mattered more to the president was a woman on social media saying something flattering about his Saturday statement. He spent the press conference trying to deflect blame for the violence from the neo-nazis, klansmen, white nationalists, and armed miitia that attended the Friday tiki torch parade and the rally Saturday. They came to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After yesterday's presidential encouragement, they will be back, and more of them.

"Tuesday was a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere," the Washington Post's lead editorial begins:

When a white supremacist stands accused of running his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19, Americans of goodwill mourn and demand justice. When this is done in the context of a rally where swastikas are borne and racist and anti-Semitic epithets hurled, the only morally justifiable reaction is disgust. When the nation’s leader does not understand this, the nation can only weep.
"Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa," David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted in confirmation.

Chris Cillizza at CNN writes, "When David Duke is praising you, it might be time to re-examine what you're doing with your life."

Kudos to Josh Marshall for two posts reminding us where all those Confederate memorials came from. In a darker twist to how fans of Ronald Reagan scrambled to cement his legacy by naming landmarks, bridges, and roads after the Gipper, southerners sought to rebrand their treason against the United States as something more noble. With markers like this one, for example:
From the outset of the post-Civil War period, disorder reigned in areas with few federal troops. An 1868 report to Ulysses S. Grant written by General George Henry Thomas who oversaw Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of other states declares:
The controlling cause of the unsettled condition of affairs in the Department is that the greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of virtues of freedmen, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for Southern independence failed. This is of course intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the Government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains.
With dawn of the Jim Crow era, the insurgents' relations (many, white women) took to erecting cheaply made "racist kitch," essentially mail-order monuments to the "the boys in gray," thereby to whitewash the history of the Civil War and reassert white dominance. (You wondered why that statue in Durham crumpled so easily?)

Addressing plans to remove the city's statues, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a speech in May:
These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
A new generation of counterfeit patriots wants to preserve that fake history and their own sense that men who share their complexion are still in charge. They are taking up arms again and, as an ally, have an anti-Lincoln with a taste for eugenics in the White House shouting "fake news."

Satirist Andy Borowitz declares at New Yorker, "Millions Willing to Work for Mueller for Free If That Would Speed Things Up." My sentiments exactly.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

 
In all their glory

by digby



Watch this and then have a stiff drink:




“VICE News Tonight” correspondent Elle Reeve went behind the scenes with white nationalist leaders, including Christopher Cantwell, Robert Ray, David Duke, and Matthew Heimbach — as well as counterprotesters. VICE News Tonight also spoke with residents of Charlottesville, members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Charlottesville Police.

.
 
Good people do not march with Nazis. #simpleruleofthumb

by digby


One of those good people at the Charlottesville Nazi rally















Holy shit. 

Today the president left no doubt that he is a white supremacist. 
Here's the transcript of that batshit press conference:
Reporter: Why do you think these CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?

Trump: Because they are not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at some of those people that you're talking about, they're outside of the country. They're having a lot of their product made outside. If you look at Merck as an example. Take a look where — excuse me, excuse me. Take a look at where their product is made. It's made outside of our country. We want products made in the country. Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they are leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside and I've been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you're referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country. You can't do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country. That's what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.

Reporter: Why did you wait so long to put that last statement out?

Trump: I didn't wait long. I didn't wait long. I didn't wait long.

Reporter: It was at least 48 hours.

Trump: I wanted to make sure — unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don't make statements that direct unless you know the fact. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don't know the facts, and it's a very, very important process to me, and it's a very important statement, so I don't want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to — I brought it. I brought it. I brought it. As I said — remember this, Saturday — we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America, and then I went on from there. Now, here's the thing. Excuse me, excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here's the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn't even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts, so I don't want to rush into a statement.

So, making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman, who I hear is a fantastic young woman — and it was on NBC — her mother wrote me and said — through I guess Twitter, social media — the nicest things, and I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually an incredible young woman. But her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike — excuse me — unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement I like to know the facts.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: They don't. They don't.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Listen, how about- how about a couple of infrastructure questions?

Reporter: Was that terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?

Trump: Say it. What?

Reporter: The CEO of Wal-Mart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?

Trump: Not at all. I think the country — look, you take a look. I've created over a million jobs since I'm president. The country is booming, the stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we've ever had in the history of our country. We're doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So, the head of Wal-Mart, whom I know, who is a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean, I do it the same way. You know why? Because I want to make sure, when I make a statement that the statement is correct, and there was no way — there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters — unlike a lot of reporters. I know, David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts, and the facts as they started coming out were very well-stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn't have made it sooner because I didn't know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don't know all of the facts. It was very important — excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly, because if I would have made a fast statement — and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made with knowledge, with great knowledge. There's still things — excuse me, there's still things that people don't know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts. Okay.

Reporter: Two questions. Was this terrorism and can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Trump: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country, and that is ... you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That's what I'd call it. Because there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible inexcusable thing.

Reporter: Can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon? Can you talk about that?

Trump: Go ahead.

Reporter: I would echo Maggie's question. Steve Bannon has-

Trump: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.

Reporter: Can you tell us broadly — do you still have confidence in Steve?

Trump: Well, we'll see. Look, I like Mr. Bannon, he's a friend of mine, but Mr. Bannon came on very late — you know that. I went through 17 senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him, he's a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He's a good person, he actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. But we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he's a good person and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.

Reporter: Do you have confidence in him?

Another reporter: John McCain has called on you to defend your national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Trump: I have already done it. I did it the last time.

Reporter: And he called on you again to —

Trump: Senator McCain? You mean the one who voted against Obamacare?

Reporter: And he said-

Trump: Who is senator- You mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good health care?

Reporter: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

Trump: Well, I don't know. I can't tell you. I'm sure Senator McCain must know what he's talking about. But when you say the alt-right...uh, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: No, define it for me. Come on, let's go.

Reporter: Senator McCain defined them as the same groups.

Trump: OK. What about the alt-left that came charging at-

[Indistinct.]

Trump: Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging, with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day-

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Wait a minute. I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

Reporter: Is it the same level as neo-Nazis?

Trump: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you have- You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Go ahead.

Reporter: Do you think what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?

Trump: Those people, all of those people- excuse me. I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.

Reporter: Well, white nationalists-

Trump: Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. So … Excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you'd know it if you were honest reporters — which in many cases you're not. But many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? But they were there to protest- excuse me. You take a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of the Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question. Go ahead.

Reporter: Should statues of Robert E. Lee stay up?

Trump: I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located.

Reporter: Are you against the Confederacy?

Another reporter: How concerned are you about race relations in America and do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?

Trump: I think they have gotten better- or the same- I- look. They've been frayed for a long time, and you can ask President Obama about that because he'd make speeches about it. But, I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs — you see where companies are moving back into our country — I think that's going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our country, we have two car companies that just announced, we have FoxConn in Wisconsin just announced. We have many companies, I say pouring back into the country. I think that's going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It's jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay and, when they have that, you watch how race relations will be. And I'll tell you, we're spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We're fixing the inner cities. We're doing far more than anybody's done with respect to the inner cities. It's a priority for me, and it's very important.

Reporter: Mr. President, are you putting what you're calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

Trump: I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I'm saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side — you can call them the left, you've just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group, so you can say what you want but that's the way it is.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Reporter: Mr. President, your words-

Another reporter: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are there-

Trump: Well, I do think there's blame- Yes. I do think there's blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either and- and- and- and if you reported it accurately, you would say it.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Reporter: Neo-Nazis started this in Charlottesville. They showed up at Charlottesville, they-

Trump: Excuse me.

Reporter: To protest the removal of that-

Trump: [Inaudible.] You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

Reporter: Do you support white nationalists, then?

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Well, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down- Excuse me. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?

Reporter: I do love Thomas Jefferson-

Trump: OK, good. Well, are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So, you know what? It's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture and you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned, totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group, too.

Reporter: Who was treated unfairly? Sir, I'm sorry I don't understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just don't understand what you were saying.

Trump: No. No. There were people in that rally — and I looked the night before. If you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people: neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest — and very legally protest, because you know- I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So, I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country. Does anybody have a final- does anybody- you have an infrastructure question.

Reporter: What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn't get health care. You're-

Trump: Well, you know, I'll tell you. We came very close with health care, unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last minute. You'll have to ask John McCain why he did that. But we came very close to health care. We will end up getting health care. But we'll get the infrastructure and actually, infrastructure is something that I think we'll have bipartisan support on. I actually think- I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.

Reporter: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family- have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?

Trump: No, I'll be reaching out. I'll be reaching out.

Reporter: When will you be reaching out?

Trump: I was very — I thought that the statement put out, the mother's statement, I thought was a beautiful statement. I must tell you, I was- it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific, and really under the- under the kind of stress that she's under and the heartache that she's under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really something I won't forget. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

He said this:

Trump: Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. 
Reporter: Well, white nationalists- 
Trump: Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. So … Excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you'd know it if you were honest reporters — which in many cases you're not. But many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? But they were there to protest- excuse me. You take a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of the Robert E. Lee.

Here are those nice fellows who were just peacefully protesting on behalf of their culture:





.


 
COINTELPRO Redux

by digby




This too was predictable:
If you’ve visited the website DisruptJ20, which helped organize protests during the inauguration of Donald Trump, the Department of Justice is interested in learning more about you.

On Saturday, a judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia approved a search warrant that would require DreamHost, DisruptJ20’s provider, to turn over a wide range of information about the site and its visitors. In addition to information about the site’s creators, the DOJ demands “logs showing connections related to the website, and any other transactional information, including records of session times and duration.” In short, the government is looking for records of everyone who even visited the site, which is to say it's effectively compiling info on those who showed even a modicum of interest in protesting the administration.

DreamHost is resisting the effort. In a blog post, the company acknowledges that it has “no insight into the affidavit for the search warrant (those records are sealed).” Nevertheless, DreamHost also writes that its general counsel “has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution.” As it goes on to explain, turning over the requested records would mean providing 1.3 million visitor IP addresses, along with “contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people.”
As ZDNet notes, “Several purported members of [DisruptJ20] were arrested for alleged violent conduct during the protests.” It links to a Washington Post article from January that claims, “Police said in court filings that the damage caused by the group was in excess of $100,000.”

In advance of the inauguration itself, however, the organizers claimed on their site laid out sweeping, but still legal, goals. “We’re planning a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations–the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it,” they claimed.

DreamHost’s blog post stresses that those who came to the site in search of information about such activities had every right to do so, just as they had every right to protest the inauguration. As such, it’s not clear why the DOJ would need their IP addresses and other, related data. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” the post reads. “This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority.”

If the Sessions DOJ is investigating Trump antagonists I assume I'm already on their radar. But the next step is to start compiling information about average citizens who have done nothing more than investigate where they might go to protest. Of course they are...

.


 
We were warned

by digby




Evan at Wonkette says what I'd guess quite a few people have been thinking the last couple of days:
We know, we know, we know. Hillary Clinton is a terrible rage harpy who should abandon public life forever and probably stop showing her lady face anywhere outside her house, because she ran such a BAD CAMPAIGN and offered NO VISION for solving Regular (White People’s) Problems, despite how she talked about those things constantly and her website was full of solutions and plans to make all Americans’ lives better, even the lives of the literal tens of thousands of white people in the Rust Belt who, with the help of Russia, propelled Donald Trump to the most historic negative three million popular vote U.S. American presidential victory in all of world history.

MAYBE if she had talked about those things in her 33,000 missing EMAILS, you know? Ever think about that, Hillghazi???? And MAYBE if she hadn’t run around hurting Real America’s feelings all the time by saying lots of Trump supporters belonged in something called the Basket Of Deplorables — such a divisive asshole, that Hillary! — then we wouldn’t be sitting here witnessing the aftermath of an actual act of detestable terrorism committed by economic insecurity actual Nazis.

Oh wait, sorry, what we meant to say is that maybe if fuckers had LISTENED TO HER when she committed the crime of saying something very true about how Donald Trump was enabling, encouraging and emboldening a certain group of racist neo-Nazi white supremacist Fuckhead-Americans, and maybe if folks on MANY SIDES had pulled their thumbs out of their assholes and voted for the only fucking qualified AND VIABLE opponent to Trump and everything he represents, we wouldn’t have the actual Basket of Deplorables partying its way through the streets of Charlottesville like it’s Germany, 1936.

Shall we revisit that famous speech? Take it away, Hillz!
“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Hillary Clinton ended up having to apologize for that speech, because Hillary Clinton ends up having to apologize for everything. Even though literally every single thing she said there was true, just like it was true when she gave that entire speech how the “alt-right” and white nationalists are just the same old fucking racist bigot Nazis we’ve always had, just with more media-friendly code names, and then she told the story about Donald Trump’s OWN vast racist history.

Read the rest at Wonkette.

Here's that alt-right speech. I thought it was extremely important at the time. But the media was obsessed with the fact that she had a cough so that was that.



An excerpt:

Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election. It’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for President of the United States.

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties.

His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous. In just the past week, under the guise of “outreach” to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in insulting and ignorant terms:

“Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen… Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”

Those are his words.

Donald Trump misses so much. He doesn’t see the success of black leaders in every field…The vibrancy of black-owned businesses…Or the strength of the black church… He doesn’t see the excellence of historically black colleges and universities or the pride of black parents watching their children thrive…And he certainly doesn’t have any solutions to take on the reality of systemic racism and create more equity and opportunity in communities of color.

It takes a lot of nerve to ask people he’s ignored and mistreated for decades, “What do you have to lose?” The answer is everything!

Trump’s lack of knowledge or experience or solutions would be bad enough.But what he’s doing here is more sinister. Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters. It’s a disturbing preview of what kind of President he’d be.

This is what I want to make clear today:

A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself – that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere. After all, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a nominee for President of the United States – could really believe all the things he says.

But the hard truth is, there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it.

Maya Angelou once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Well, throughout his career and this campaign, Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is. We should believe him. When Trump was getting his start in business, he was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black and Latino tenants. Their applications would be marked with a “C” – “C” for “colored” – and then rejected. Three years later, the Justice Department took Trump back to court because he hadn’t changed.

The pattern continued through the decades.

State regulators fined one of Trump’s casinos for repeatedly removing black dealers from the floor. No wonder the turn-over rate for his minority employees was way above average. And let’s not forget Trump first gained political prominence leading the charge for the so-called “Birthers.” He promoted the racist lie that President Obama isn’t really an American citizen – part of a sustained effort to delegitimize America’s first black President.

In 2015, Trump launched his own campaign for President with another racist lie. He described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. And he accused the Mexican government of actively sending them across the border. None of that is true.

Oh, and by the way, Mexico’s not paying for his wall either. If it ever gets built, you can be sure that American taxpayers will be stuck with the bill.

Since then, there’s been a steady stream of bigotry. We all remember when Trump said a distinguished federal judge born in Indiana couldn’t be trusted to do his job because, quote, “He’s a Mexican.”

Think about that.

The man who today is the standard bearer of the Republican Party said a federal judge was incapable of doing his job solely because of his heritage. Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, described that as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” To this day, he’s never apologized to Judge Curiel.

But for Trump, that’s just par for the course. This is someone who retweets white supremacists online, like the user who goes by the name “white-genocide-TM.” Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to 11 million people. His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist website.

The Trump campaign also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California. They only dropped him under pressure. When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn’t do it. Only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack.

And when Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them. Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones. Trump said thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t.

He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because he was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it. Of course there’s absolutely no evidence of that. Just recently, Trump claimed President Obama founded ISIS. And then he repeated that nonsense over and over.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. All I can say is, Donald, dream on.

This is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel.It’s what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs. He said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. Trump didn’t challenge those lies. He went on Jones’ show and said: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

This man wants to be President of the United States.

I’ve stood by President Obama’s side as he made the toughest decisions a Commander-in-Chief ever has to make.In times of crisis, our country depends on steady leadership… clear thinking… and calm judgment… because one wrong move can mean the difference between life and death. The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction, and who buys so easily into racially-tinged rumors. Someone detached from reality should never be in charge of making decisions that are as real as they come.

It’s another reason why Donald Trump is simply temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States.

[...]
Don’t worry, some will say, as President, Trump will be surrounded by smart advisors who will rein in his worst impulses. So when a tweet gets under his skin and he wants to retaliate with a cruise missile, maybe cooler heads will be there to convince him not to.

Maybe.

But look at who he’s put in charge of his campaign. Trump likes to say he only hires the “best people.” But he’s had to fire so many campaign managers it’s like an episode of the Apprentice. The latest shake-up was designed to – quote – “Let Trump be Trump.” To do that, he hired Stephen Bannon, the head of a right-wing website called Breitbart.com, as campaign CEO.

To give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they’ve published:

“Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”

“Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”

“Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield”

“Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.”

That one came shortly after the Charleston massacre, when Democrats and Republicans alike were doing everything they could to heal racial divides. Breitbart tried to enflame them further.

Just imagine – Donald Trump reading that and thinking: “this is what I need more of in my campaign.”

Bannon has nasty things to say about pretty much everyone. This spring, he railed against Paul Ryan for, quote “rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second.” No wonder he’s gone to work for Trump – the only Presidential candidate ever to get into a public feud with the Pope.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, Breitbart embraces “ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas.Race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas –– all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’” Alt-Right is short for “Alternative Right.”

The Wall Street Journal describes it as a loosely organized movement, mostly online, that “rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity.”The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump Campaign represents a landmark achievement for the “Alt-Right.” A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party.

This is part of a broader story -- the rising tide of hardline, right-wing nationalism around the world. Just yesterday, one of Britain’s most prominent right-wing leaders, Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum on leaving the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi. Farage has called for a ban on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and health services, has said women are quote “worth less” than men, and supports scrapping laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race -- that’s who Trump wants by his side.

The godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, Farage has appeared regularly on Russian propaganda programs. Now he’s standing on the same stage as the Republican nominee.

Trump himself heaps praise on Putin and embrace pro-Russian policies. He talks casually of abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and of giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe more generally.

American presidents from Truman to Reagan have rejected the kind of approach Trump is taking on Russia.

We should, too.

All of this adds up to something we’ve never seen before.

Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.

On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant.

“We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,” one white supremacist said.

Duke laughed. There’s still more work to do, he said.

No one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here. The names may have changed… Racists now call themselves “racialists.” White supremacists now call themselves “white nationalists.” The paranoid fringe now calls itself “alt-right.” But the hate burns just as bright.

[...]

And now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well. Don’t be fooled. There’s an old Mexican proverb that says “Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.” We know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won’t change that.

He says he wants to “make America great again,” but his real message remains “Make America hate again.” This isn’t just about one election. It’s about who we are as a nation.It’s about the kind of example we want to set for our children and grandchildren.

Next time you watch Donald Trump rant on television, think about all the kids listening across our country. They hear a lot more than we think. Parents and teachers are already worried about what they’re calling the “Trump Effect.” Bullying and harassment are on the rise in our schools, especially targeting students of color, Muslims, and immigrants.

At a recent high school basketball game in Indiana, white students held up Trump signs and taunted Latino players on the opposing team with chants of “Build the wall!” and “Speak English.” After a similar incident in Iowa, one frustrated school principal said, “They see it in a presidential campaign and now it's OK for everyone to say this.” We wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior in our own homes. How can we stand for it from a candidate for president?

There was a lot more to the speech, I just hit the highlights.

It was stark and true. And it was written off by too many as some kind of paranoid rant designed to cynically manipulate the populace into voting for the unrepentant, corrupt warhawk Hillary Clinton whose cough showed she was unfit to be president.

She wasn't the only one who sounded this alarm. Many of us tried to get the word out and were dismissed as hysterics while the media persisted in their pursuit of a "both sides", "but her emails" narrative that made no sense whatsoever.

And now here we are:


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