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Thursday, August 17, 2017

As California goes, so goes the nation (hopefully)

by digby

Amanda Marcotte took a look at the various actions being undertaken in the nation's most populous states to block Trump's odious agenda:

After Donald Trump’s shocking meltdown on Tuesday afternoon, it’s even clearer that progressives need effective strategies to blunt the effect of having a conspiracy-theory-driven, racist authoritarian in the Oval Office, backed by a congressional majority that is still too afraid to offer meaningful checks on his worst behavior. The good news is that some of the nation’s biggest cities and states remain controlled by Democrats. Activists and politicians in those states are looking for meaningful ways to throw wrenches in the Trump agenda.

At the top of that list is California, which not only has the largest population of any state but is controlled by progressive Democrats (relatively speaking) who seem ready and eager to fight Trump, especially on the issues of climate change and immigration. (New York is the next biggest state controlled by Democrats, but intra-party warfare has crippled the ability of progressives to get much done.)

California fired a significant shot across the bow at Trump on Monday, when state Attorney General Xavier Becerra declared that the state would sue the Trump administration over threats to withdraw law enforcement grants if the local and state police refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to deport immigrants. The lawsuit will be joined with an earlier one filed by the city of San Francisco.

“It’s a low blow to our men and women who wear the badge, for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Becerra said during a press conference announcing the suit. California received $28 million in law enforcement grants from the federal government this year, money it could lose if the police prioritize actual crime-fighting over federal demands that they focus their resources on deporting people.

“The government’s plan for deporting millions of people in this country is to coerce local law enforcement to be their force-multipliers,” explained Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ rights for the ACLU of California.

Pasquarella noted that most deportations currently occur because of an encounter with local law enforcement. By resisting pressure to step up efforts to persecute undocumented immigrants, she said, California can make it safe for people to “access basic services that are vital to our state and communities without fear of deportation, like schools and hospitals and libraries and health clinics.”

Some Democrats in the state are trying to take this idea even further, backing SB 54, titled the California Values Act. According to The Los Angeles Times, the bill would prohibit “state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.”

Read on.

The biggest, bluest state in the nation has a lot of firepower at its disposal. I'm proud to see that it's taking a lead in doing whatever it can to stop Trump. Whether it will succeed is unknown, but I do look forward to seeing Jeff Sessions have to publicly denounce states' rights in order to defend his authoritarian policies.

Give him a bottle and put him to bed

by digby

It's embarrassing and stupid but in a way, you can't blame him. He said much worse than that to Republican leaders right to their faces on national TV during the campaign and they all came crawling back, begging for an opportunity to kiss his ring and promising to do everything they could to help him.

Graham and Flake have voted for everything he's wanted so far, so what the downside of insulting them to entertain himself and his cult? Nothing as far as I can tell. Both Graham and Flake will be there when he needs them.

It's a tough debate"

by digby

On Tuesday night CNN reported that the WH had instructed their surrogates to back the President's line that both sides were to blame for Charlottesville. And they did:
What’s a Fox and Friends host to do when they desperately want to push President Donald Trump’s narrative the “both sides” are to blame for Charlottesville, but their guests want to talk about what’s really going on in America right now?

Abby Huntsman found out Wednesday morning, in a segment first spotted by Mediaite, when she tried to start a debate over the statues of Confederate-era slaveholders but found her guests unexpectedly agreeing with each other about how “morally bankrupt” our president has become on the issue of race.

“It’s beyond a monument. This is about hatred. This is about white supremacy,” Wendy Osefo said, representing the left. “As a mother, to hear the president of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened,” she added of the white supremacist terror attack that killed Heather Heyer, “as a black woman of two black boys, my heart bleeds. This is not talking points. This is personal. We as a nation, as a country, have to do better.”

Huntsman responded by simply echoing Trump—“there are good people on both sides of this debate”—and trying to get her representative from the right, Gianno Caldwell, to address the statue issue instead of responding to what Osefo had said.

He did not comply.

“I come today with a very heavy heart,” Caldwell said, already starting to tear up. “Last night I couldn’t sleep at all because president Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country.”

Caldwell went on, getting progressively more emotional as did Osefo.

“Strong emotions there, and, you know, it’s a tough debate,” was all Huntsman could come up with.

You'll recall that her daddy has been nominated by Trump to be the US Ambassador to Russia.



Monument to Trump's stupidity

by digby

Never say he's not interested in history:
When Donald J. Trump bought a fixer-upper golf club on Lowes Island here for $13 million in 2009, he poured millions more into reconfiguring its two courses. He angered conservationists by chopping down more than 400 trees to open up views of the Potomac River. And he shocked no one by renaming the club after himself.

But that wasn’t enough. Mr. Trump also upgraded its place in history.

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

Like many of Mr. Trump’s claims, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.

“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.

“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”

Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.) 

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly marking “The River of Blood."

In a phone interview, Mr. Trump called himself a “a big history fan” but deflected, played down and then simply disputed the local historians’ assertions of historical fact.

“That was a prime site for river crossings,” Mr. Trump said. “So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them.”

The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, where, as an official historical marker notes, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.

But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.

“How would they know that?” Mr. Trump asked when told that local historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”

Mr. Trump repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood. But he said he did not remember their names.

Then he said the historians had spoken not to him but to “my people.” But he refused to identify any underlings who might still possess the historians’ names.

“Write your story the way you want to write it,” Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. “You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”

In its small way, the plaque bears out Mr. Trump’s reputation for being preoccupied with grandeur, superlatives and his own name, but less so with verifiable facts, even when his audience is relatively small.

He believes what he wants to believe. Here was his tweet storm this morning:

You can never comparably replace a statue. Never.

Donald Trump, David Duke and Vladimir Putin

by digby

I wrote this for Salon this morning:

Most of America is probably still feeling overwhelmed by the events in Charlottesville last weekend and our president’s outrageous reaction. Media reports suggest, however, that while Donald Trump has been even more volatile and short-tempered than usual lately, he is feeling a lot better after his Tuesday press conference, having freed himself of the burden of pretending to have a moral compass.

Refusing to pass judgment on allies and supporters, no matter what they do, is a fundamental characteristic of the man and a sincere reflection of his beliefs. This is the man, after all, who refused to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for killing political rivals and members of the press when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly pressed him on it, saying, “There are a lot of killers.You think our country’s so innocent?”

So it appears that letting off that steam on Tuesday made Trump feel a little more like himself. This has been a rough couple of weeks, even by the standards of his soap opera of a presidency. Indeed, looking back it seems that Trump started to come a bit more unglued than usual right about the time he learned that special counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury in the Russia investigation and the FBI had staged an early morning search of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s home.

We still don’t know what Trump is so worried about, but he’s definitely worried about something. Thinking about nuclear war and Nazi rallies was undoubtedly a nice distraction from whatever it is that’s bothering him so much.

But whether the president knows it or not, even the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally has deep connections to the global white nationalist movement, and the epicenter of that movement is in Moscow under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Take, for instance, Matthew Heimbach, who was crowned by Think Progress as the “most important white supremacist of 2016″ and was one of the organizers of the Charlottesville event. Heimbach is the man who was arrested at a Trump campaign rally for pushing and screaming at a protester, and who later claimed in court that he believed Trump had “deputized” the crowd to defend him against the protesters.

Heimbach says, “Putin is the leader, really, of the anti-globalist forces around the world” and calls “Russia our most powerful ally” — and by “our,” he means the forces of white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center dubbed him “The Little Führer.” Heimbach is also a member of the World National Conservative Movement, a product of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM):

The manifesto of the movement claims that the world is governed by the ideology of “liberalism, multiculturalism and tolerance.” This, in the view of the activists, results in “the erosion of nations, massive migration from countries with foreign civilizational bases, falling away from religion, replacement of spirituality by materialism, impoverishment of cultures, destruction of the family and healthy moral values” through “abortion, propaganda of debauchery and acceptance of sexual perversions”. Furthermore, the manifesto refers to the “super-national institutions” such as the EU and NATO, and argues that these forces represent “the global cabal” which, in the Russian cultural discourse, is essentially a euphemistic reference to the global Jewish conspiracy. The WNCM aims to counter liberalism and globalisation by staging a “conservative revolution” and bringing far right parties to power in Western societies.

That sounds strangely familiar doesn’t it?

Heimbach isn’t the only white supremacist Trump follower with a strong connection to Russia. Two years ago, The New York Timesreported on a conference in St. Petersburg featuring a big name in right-wing hate:

Railing against same-sex marriage, immigration, New York financiers, radical Islam and globalization, among other targets, one speaker after another lauded Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin as a pillar of robust, conservative, even manly values. . . . 
The United States, as the main adversary, attracted the most hostility, but a couple of American speakers received warm applause by painting Washington as an aggressor trying to export its misguided new values. 
Jared Taylor, who runs a website called American Renaissance, said the descendants of white Europeans risked being swept away by a wave of Africans, Central Americans and Asians. The United States, which he said worshiped diversity rather than Christianity, “is the greatest enemy of tradition everywhere.”

Jared Taylor is credited with coining the term alt-right. Here he is explaining what it means:

You will recall that President Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon once described his far-right news site Breitbart as “the platform of the alt-right.”

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, another organizer of the Unite the Right gathering, has praised Russia as the “sole white power in the world.” Spencer’s wife, the Russian born Nina Kouprianova (from whom he is reportedly separated) has helped the movement by translating the influential neo-fascist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, who promotes what the Daily Beast describes as “the modern incarnation of ‘Eurasianism,’ a geopolitical theory positing Russia as the inheritor of ‘Eternal Rome.'” Dugin has ties to virtually every American white supremacist leader in one way or another.

And then there’s David Duke, the noted former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who tweeted his gratitude for Trump’s support after his raucous press conference on Tuesday and told TV interviewers in Charlottesville, “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Duke has said that Russia is the “key to white survival“ and has spent quite a bit of time there. He has ties to Dugin as well.

After all the furious activity over the weekend, The Daily Stormer, the biggest neo-Nazi web site, was kicked off its American server. Wouldn’t you know it? It landed at a Russian domain.

None of this is to say that there is a secret international white supremacist conspiracy led by Trump and Putin. After all, it isn’t much of a secret: These ties are all out in the open. The point is that this is all of a piece: Trump’s casual immorality, his admiration for Putin and his sympathy for the white supremacists in America and their “cause” are not separate issues.

It may indeed turn out that Trump or members of his campaign team colluded with the Russian government to win the election, or that he had illegal financial dealings with oligarchs and kleptocrats that made him vulnerable to blackmail. It could be both of those things or something else entirely. But regardless of his legal exposure, it’s also clear that Trump is sincerely sympathetic to white nationalists who are devoted admirers of Vladimir Putin’s white nationalism. How much he knows or understands about that connection is impossible to say. But it’s yet another link between Donald Trump and Russia, and this one may be the most disturbing of all.

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,

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.


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.

* * * * * * * *

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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-


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: