Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He is a Performance Artist (AKA It's All About the Show, Explained, CONt. Part 4)

UPDATE:  "For his entire life, Trump has made grandiose promises and ominous threats — and rarely delivered on any. When he was in business, Reuters found, he frequently threatened to sue news organizations for libel, but the last time he followed through was 33 years ago, in 1984. Trump says that he never settles cases out of court. In fact, he has settled at least 100 times, according to USA Today.

In his political life, he has followed the same strategy of bluster. In 2011, he said that he had investigators who 'cannot believe what they’re finding' about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and that he would at some point 'be revealing some interesting things.' He had nothing. During the campaign, he vowed that he would label China a currency manipulator, move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, make Mexico pay for a border wall and initiate an investigation into Hillary Clinton. So far, nada. After being elected, he signaled to China that he might recognize Taiwan. Within weeks of taking office, he folded. He implied that he had tapes of his conversations with then-FBI Director James B. Comey. Of course, he had none.

Even now, as he deals with a nuclear crisis, Trump has made claims that could be easily shown to be false. He tweeted that his first presidential order was to 'modernize' the United States’ nuclear arsenal. In fact, he simply followed a congressional mandate to authorize a review of the arsenal, which hasn’t been completed yet. Does he think the North Koreans don’t know this? . .

'I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,' Tillerson said on Wednesday. This was an unusual, perhaps even unprecedented statement. The secretary of state seems to have been telling Americans — and the world — to ignore the rhetoric, not of the North Korean dictator, but of his own boss, the president of the United States. It is probably what Trump’s associates have done for him all his life. They know that the guiding mantra for him has been not the art of the deal, but the art of the bluff."

Read the Washington Post, Trump has been making ominous threats his whole life.

"This was Trump in his element: At his luxurious private golf club here in Bedminster, the cameras trained on him, his vice president and national security advisers looking on admiringly, he parried queries — at times even gleefully — like a tennis player.

Engaging with people — journalists, advisers, friends and even foes — is Trump’s lifeblood. . .

The president’s exchanges with a small pool of traveling reporters lacked the formality of a full-fledged news conference. (His last was in February.) After each answer, he made eye contact with a reporter, as if to say, 'Gimme another!'

'It was like he was a dam that had suddenly burst free and he was able to unload a lot that was on his mind,' presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. . .

“This is what [Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general]  will learn very quickly, which is when you put this guy in a cage and think you’re controlling him, things like this happen,” said one Trump confidant, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Also watching it unfold on television was Trump biographer Tim O’Brien. The moment, he said, was vintage Trump.

'President Trump is a performance artist and he loves being on stage. .?.?. He was very much Trump unshackled and unfettered and reveling in this moment,' said O’Brien, author of the 2005 book 'Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald.' . .

O’Brien said Trump 'was in his element,' but added, 'I don’t think it’s a good thing. Donald Trump in his element is someone who’s living in his own private Idaho, inside his own head. He’s constantly scripting how he sees the world and his role in it.' . .

Trump lives to be in the arena himself, said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser.

'He realizes that the best way for him to control his message is to be the message,' Nunberg said.

Read the Washington Post, ‘When you put this guy in a cage and think you’re controlling him, things like this happen’.

Trump's Big CON: Repeat Twice Daily: "He's So Pretty" (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 9))

"Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.

One White House official said the only feedback the White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten in all these months is: 'It needs to be more fucking positive.' That’s why some in the White House ruefully refer to the packet as 'the propaganda document.'"

Read Vice News, Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day.

Now repeat after me:  He's so pretty!

Trump's Big CON: He's Gotta Help His Supporters Hate, Hate, Hate, CONt.

UPDATE XIII: If you had any doubt, The Donald made it clear.

Read the Washington Post:

Trump puts a fine point on it: He sides with the alt-right in Charlottesville, which explained that to Trump, marchers "defending their 'heritage'" by chanting anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans (such as bigots, racist, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan) are the moral equals of those "those protesting their racism, hatred and belief in the inferiority of African Americans, Jews and other minorities";

Trump’s rhetorical ricochet on Charlottesville highlights basic truths about the president, which noted that:

Trump "does not like to be told what to say. He will always find a way to pull the conversation back to himself. And he is preternaturally inclined to dance with the ones who brought him. . .

[Then he] turned to one of his favorite rhetorical tools, using casual language to strip away any definite blame, any clear moral stand, and instead send the message that nothing is certain, that everything is negotiable, that ethics are always situational. 'You can call it terrorism,' he said. 'You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want.'";

Everyone working for Trump knows his Charlottesville response is an abomination, which stated that "the president adamantly defended his original statement that the fault lies with bigotry on 'many sides' and reiterated that 'there’s blame on both sides' for what happened. He said that the rallying white supremacists and Nazis had been treated 'unfairly' by the media, and that there 'were very fine people on both sides.'";

Trump just hit a new low, which explained that

Trump "after putting Nazis on the same moral plane as anti-Nazis, put the father of our country and the author of the Declaration of Independence on the same moral plane as two men who made war on America. Duke and white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer applauded Trump’s performance. . .

It’s more than words. The administration proposed eliminating the 'Countering Violent Extremism' program; officials argued that the effort should target only Islamist radicalization, not right-wing extremism. In June, the Trump administration canceled a grant to a group called Life After Hate, which rehabilitates neo-Nazis. 'At a time when this is the biggest threat in our country, to pull funding from the only organization in the United States helping people disengage from this is pretty suspect to me,' the group’s co-founder Christian Picciolini told me.

And now we have the spectacle of the president, in response to reporters’ questions, defending the character and motives of the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville.

Trump, who has issued scores of tweets without benefit of accurate information, explained his initial unwillingness to single out the white supremacist who drove into a crowd of demonstrators: 'Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.'

Trump, who has criticized others for failing to use the phrase 'radical Islamic terrorism,' declined to call the incident terrorism, dismissing the question as 'legal semantics.'

Asked about the culpability of the 'alt-right' in the Charlottesville attack, Trump replied: 'Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging them?'";

The nation can only weep, an editorial that stated:

"TUESDAY WAS a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere. The president of the United States all but declared that he has their backs.

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. . .

That car in Charlottesville did not kill or wound just the 20 bodies it struck. It damaged the nation. Mr. Trump not only failed to help the country heal; he made the wound wider and deeper.";

President Trump must go, which argued:

"Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon gave the most disgusting public performance in the history of the American presidency. Framed by the vulgar excess of the lobby of Trump Tower, the president of the United States shook loose the constraints of his more decent-minded advisers and, speaking from his heart, defended white supremacists and by extension, their credos of hatred. He equated with those thugs the courageous Americans who had gathered to stand up to the racism, anti-Semitism and doctrine of violence that won the cheers and Nazi salutes of the alt-right hordes to whom Trump felt such loyalty.

After several days in which Trump and his advisers wrestled with what should have been a straightforward task — condemning the instigators of the unrest that rocked Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend — Trump revealed the reason that finding those words was such a struggle. He, too, is an extremist.

No one who values the best of what the United States has stood for could watch without feeling revulsion, anger or heartbreak. . .

Every day Trump remains in office is a victory for the extremists. But in that same moment on Tuesday, Trump made it clear that to defeat the champions of hatred in the United States, he must go. That he also must go to preserve the United States’ standing in the world, to ensure the safety of our people and our way of life has also been made clear in the past week. It is now time that we follow his dangerous words with our own actions. It is why Heather Heyer was on that street in Charlottesville. We owe it to her and to ourselves to remove him from office as soon as the law permits. Trump himself has demonstrated the price of each day of delay."; and

What did you expect from Trump?, which pointed out:

"Plainly, the New York education system, Fordham University and Wharton School of Business have failed Trump, promoting him without ensuring that he possessed basic reasoning skills and a grasp of American history. But in these institutions’ defense, he is unteachable, we have learned. . .

Trump apologists have run out of excuses and credibility. He was at the time plainly the more objectionable of the two main party candidates; in refusing to recognize that they did the country great harm. They can make amends by denouncing him and withdrawing all support. In short, Trump’s embrace and verbal defense of neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be disqualifying from public service. All true patriots must do their utmost to get him out of the Oval Office as fast as possible."

Republicans, cut the outrage. It’s time to disown Trump., which suggested that:

Among other things, "Trump must be shunned and ostracized. He is not fit for polite company, let alone the presidency. He has demolished the rules of civilized behavior, and therefore should enjoy none of the ceremonial niceties that are extended to normal presidents.

Republicans’ words are insufficient and, at this point, insufferable. When we look back at this time, the only thing people will ask is: 'What did you do?' Republicans will need a better answer than 'I was outraged and gave tough quotes — on background.'

But hey, "source close to Stephen Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, said he was proud of the president’s performance Tuesday."

Read Bloomberg, Trump Drags GOP Onto Dangerous Ground, This Time Over Race.

(And don't forget Sebastian Gorka, another White House Trump aide, "who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man . . . [and] wore a medal from the Hungarian nationalist organization Vitezi Rend, a longtime anti-Semitic group that claimed Gorka as one of its own."

UPDATE XII:  Read the Washington Post, An ugly pattern is taking shape. Trump exaggerates certain threats. He plays down other ones., which states:

"Trump continually exaggerates the threat posed by immigration. . .

Trump appears to be reluctant to confront the far-right fringe threat — and the Russian threat to future elections."

The reasons are obvious.

But if you need a hint:

Read CNN, Trump has attacked just about everyone on Twitter. But not white supremacists.

Or read the Washington Post, I watched Trump all last year. His response to Charlottesville was no surprise., which notes that "[a] quiet wink at white supremacists followed by a belated condemnation fits the pattern he established in the campaign.

UPDATE XI:  Excerpts from WP, Trump acts like the president of the Red States of America:

"Compare Trump’s muted reaction to Charlottesville with his animated response last December to a similar incident in Columbus, another college town where an extremist plowed a car into a crowd of people. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State University student, drove a Honda sedan through a crowd outside a school building last November before emerging from the vehicle and slashing at people with a butcher knife. As president-elect, Trump flew to OSU to meet with survivors and praise the cop who shot the attacker. 'This is a great honor for me today,' Trump told reporters during the visit. 'We’re in a fantastic state that I love, Ohio.' One big difference: Artan was a Somali Muslim refugee. It's not even clear Trump has tried to call the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer. . .

In this context, Trump’s announcement that he is mulling a pardon for Joe Arpaio can be viewed as a strategic sop to mollify some of the most xenophobic elements of his nativist base. The president told Fox News in an interview published yesterday that he is 'seriously considering' a full pardon to the former Arizona sheriff, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order that he stop racially profiling Hispanics.

'I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,' the president told Gregg Jarrett. He called Arpaio a “great American patriot” who has “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration”: “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? … He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

Arpaio, who remains a 'birther' and has insisted he has proof that Obama was not born in Hawaii, lost reelection last year. He was an early Trump endorser — going to Iowa for the announcement — and linked himself closely with the GOP nominee — speaking in prime time during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. . .

In stark contrast to his caution after Charlottesville, it took Trump just 54 minutes to attack the chief executive of Merck by name on Monday morning after he resigned from the president’s manufacturing council. Kenneth C. Frazier, one of the few African American chief executives in the Fortune 500, touted the virtues of diversity in a statement. “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said. “America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

POTUS continued to use his social media bully pulpit to go after him last night . . .

Meanwhile, even after his speech yesterday, Trump still has not reacted publicly to a bomb that was detonated at a Minnesota mosque Aug. 5. Sebastian Gorka, a far-right nationalist on Trump’s National Security Council, defended his silence last week. 'There's a great rule: all initial reports are false,' Gorka said on MSNBC from the White House briefing room. 'You have to check them. You have to find out who the perpetrators are. … We've had a series of crimes committed — alleged hate crimes — by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left. So let's wait and see.' (The governor of Minnesota had already declared the mosque attack as 'an act of terrorism' when Gorka said this.)

The president, of course, showed no such caution after attacks this spring in Paris and London. And don’t forget when he falsely described a casino robbery in Manila as a terrorist attack. Or his attacks on Mexican immigrants.

Finally, Trump’s botched response to Charlottesville should be viewed as another consequence of electing the first president in American history with no prior governing experience. 'Say what you will about politicians as a group, but it is striking how all of them, from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, knew the right thing to say in response to Charlottesville,' writes Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University. 'Running for office repeatedly tends to hone one’s rhetorical instincts. At a minimum, most professional politicians learn the do’s and don’ts of political rhetoric. Trump’s political education has different roots. He has learned the art of political rhetoric from three sources: reality television, Twitter and ‘the shows.’ His miscues this past week can be traced to the pathologies inherent in each of these arenas.' . .

'The president is confident that his lazy musings are equal to history. They are not,' [Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote in a column this weekend. 'Trump could offer no context for this latest conflict. No inspiring ideals from the author of the Declaration of Independence, who called Charlottesville home. No healing words from the president who was killed by a white supremacist. By his flat, foolish utterance, Trump proved once again that he has no place in the company of these leaders.'"

UPDATE X:  Want to understand what hate can do to victim and perpetrator,

Read the Washington Post, Three years ago, the Islamic State massacred Yazidis in Iraq. Why?, which noted that:

 "A recurrent theme in my conversations with Yazidis and testimonies of female survivors is that not only foreign fighters but also local Iraqis and Syrians, both men and women, were actively involved in their rape and enslavement. In the words of a survivor, 'They did not attack us because of their ideology, but to simply have the opportunity to rape us.'

While some Sunnis from the Sinjar area tried to protect their Yazidi neighbors, many others, including godfathers of Yazidi boys who were supposed to act as their protectors, participated in the enslavement of women and the robbing of the Yazidis and looting of their properties resulting in revenge attacks after the defeat of the Islamic State."

Then read also the Washington Post, Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists.

UPDATE IX:  "Republicans need to acknowledge an uncomfortable truth: Their party supported and still supports Trump, who feeds the monster of white resentment and who focuses their anger, fear and frustration on minorities.

The memes that immigrants are “stealing our jobs”; Christianity is a persecuted religion in the United States; Mexican immigrants are “murderers”; and millions of illegal immigrants voted in the election have given white nationalists rhetorical cover to propound their even more extreme racist views. Bannon and company have introduced in the Oval Office the “blood and soil” definition of nationalism, the suggestion that the media is the enemy of the people and a nonstop attack on the truth. They refused to abandon a presidential candidate who attacked a federal court judge on the basis of race, for heaven’s sake."

Read the Washington Post, Don’t argue with Pelosi on this one, Republicans.

Pelosi called Trump out, saying:

"'If the President is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House.'"

UPDATE VIII:  "There should be no real difficulty in condemning Nazis, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan. They are, for God’s sake, Nazis and white supremacists. This should not require moral courage. This is obvious. This is the moral equivalent of the text you type to prove you’re not a robot. . .

'It’s been going on for a long time in our country,' Trump said on Saturday. 'Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.'

If only. If only it had no place here. If only these statues had sprung up out of the earth on their own.

What did they think the mob was doing, gathered with torches?

Of course they gathered with torches, because the only liberty they have lost is the liberty to gather with torches and decide whose house to visit with terror. . .

Here we are in the year of our lord 2017 and the president of the United States lacks the moral courage to condemn Nazis and white supremacists. And they are not even making it difficult. They are saluting like Nazis and waving Nazi flags and chanting like Nazis and spewing hatred like Nazis. Maya Angelou was not wrong. When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Especially if what that person is telling you is 'I am a Nazi.'

Barely, after two days, he has managed to mumble that their ideology has (should have) no place in our society. Silence sells hats, I guess.

[But for Trump, ] there is nothing more pathological than the desire to be liked by everyone all the time. If you are continually attracting Nazis and white supremacists, you shouldn’t say, 'WOW, everyone LIKES ME! Great!' you should ask yourself, 'Where in my life have I gone seriously wrong?'"

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s despicable words.

UPDATE VII: The Donald panders to and leverages racism. So he bears responsibility for the resulting violence.

"When does racism drive people to commit violence?

'The most likely predictor of that is exposure to a kind of ideology,' [Eric Knowles, a psychology professor at New York University who studies prejudice and politics] said. Most if not all people carry implicit biases and unexamined prejudices, he said, and some may harbor feelings of fear or resentment that they don’t express in public.

'But when people come into contact with an organized ideology that valorizes or glorifies an intergroup struggle like a race struggle — that scaffolds from people’s everyday prejudices into something altogether more violent,' he said."

Read the Washington Post, Why are people still racist? What science says about America’s race problem.

UPDATE VI:  The Donald isn't racist, he just likes to retweet racist rhetoric.

Read the Washington Post, Trump retweets right-wing provocateur known for pushing false conspiracy theories.

UPDATE V:  "Trump’s reaction Saturday to the Charlottesville hate-fest is an example of what I find so troubling. I never thought a president of the United States would hedge his bets when it came to denouncing racists and anti-Semites. There is abundant boilerplate for these incidents, whole attics of cliches, but Trump could utter not a one. Instead, he pushed out some mush about an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

On Monday, the president toughened up. 'Racism is evil,' Trump said, no doubt at the urging of his aides. He denounced 'the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.' Nice try, but three days late and many dollars short. The stain of the original statement cannot be removed. It is the authentic Trump — the genuine embodiment of a president who has both identified a rage in part of the American electorate and validated it.

America has had these moments before. The reign of Sen. Joseph McCarthy comes to mind. He was a lying opportunist who exploited a Red Scare to ruin lives and careers. But for all his villainy, he was just a senator and, in due course, the Senate took care of its own. It censured McCarthy.

Trump, however, is vastly more powerful. His tweets dominate the news cycle. His claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton and deprived him of a popular-vote victory has seeped into the Republican electorate. The Post last week reported that about half of Republicans would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the problem is fixed.

That the problem cannot be fixed because it does not exist is almost beside the point. More important is the blatant disregard for both the Constitution and tradition. We hold presidential elections every four years. Always have. The president’s term is set by the Constitution. Look it up.

Simultaneous with the delegitimization of the electoral process has been a subversion of truth. It has been reduced to just another thing — something like an alternative to the 'alternative facts' of Kellyanne Conway’s invention. Trump’s incessant attacks on the press have taken a toll. The so-called mainstream media has for years been a GOP whipping boy, but now it is not merely in opposition, it is also corrupt. 'They’re lying, they’re cheating, they’re stealing,' Trump said during a rally in October in Grand Junction, Colo. 'They’re doing everything, these people right back here.' He was pointing to the press section. . .

Beliefs that used to be found only on the fringe of the far right have entered the Republican mainstream. The furious and unbalanced hatred of Clinton, the conviction that the election was almost stolen — all this and more have been given such legitimacy by Trump that neo-Nazis can march in Thomas Jefferson’s home town, confident that they have Trump’s support. They were wrong. They only had his indifference."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s America is not mine.

UPDATE IV:  "After two days, blistering criticism from his own party and tougher anti-white-nationalist statements from the company that makes Tiki torches and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump dragged himself to the podium for a statement that specifically condemned white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other racists. He had to begin with some self-congratulations on the economy — because his accomplishments are what he really cares about. . .

He read from a teleprompter. Speaking from his heart would have been impossible, given his obvious lack of passion and willful blindness over the past couple of days. He did not mention the 'alt-right,' nor did he announce he is firing Stephen K. Bannon, who once bragged he gave the alt-right a platform at Breitbart. He did not announce any specific policy measures. He did not apologize for his moral obtuseness. This was the weakest statement he could have gotten away with, 48 hours too late. Why did it have to come to this?

The white nationalists in Charlottesville did not hide their intentions. They were there to revel in the Trump presidency, which explicitly told them it was time to 'take their country back.' Former KKK grand wizard David Duke left no confusion as to his followers’ admiration for the president:

His invocation of the president’s name and campaign rhetoric makes the president’s equivocation all the more appalling — and revealing. Whereas any normal president or politician would renounce support from neo-Nazis and white nationalists, Trump — until forced to do so — would not criticize them, let alone refuse to accept their support. . .

Not to have rejected immediately the support or to tell the neo-Nazis they misunderstood his message shocks even the most jaded Trump critics and puts President Trump in a category of one — American politicians who gladly accept support from white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right (white nationalists with intellectual pretensions).

One might conclude from Trump’s foot-dragging and obsession with stoking racial tensions (e.g. his vote fraud commission, his crusade against legal and illegal immigrants, etc.) that, despite his apologists’ protestations, his campaign message was aimed at white resentment. Trump continues to tell those who want to 'take back their country' that 'their' country is being overrun by foreigners, non-Christians, non-whites. The majority of his followers had a more benign, non-racial interpretation (take the country back from liberals, elites, urbanites, etc.), but it surely hit home and brought out from the shadows Duke and his ilk. . .

Trump’s dance with the racists is therefore inseparable from his agenda. A nativist, populist president without the support of the most extreme defenders of Christian white America would be an impossibility."

Read the Washington Post, Why Trump had to be badgered to condemn neo-Nazis.

UPDATE III:  "Before he became a presidential candidate in 2016, the Manhattan builder spent the previous five years championing the racist birther lie that Obama was not born in the United States and, therefore, in the White House illegally. Then, on June 16, 2015, Trump set the tone for his presidential campaign when he said, 'They’re rapists' when talking about immigrants from Mexico during the announcement of his candidacy. And it has been all downhill from there with a candidacy that allowed right-wing hate to feel safe quarter and a presidency that lets it grow by pretending it’s not there.

Trump, the man who is oh so quick to thunder against radical Islamic terrorism, always gets cramps in his Twitter thumbs, loses his voice or suffers amnesia when white nationalists are involved. Like that time David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed him in February 2016, 'I know nothing about David Duke,' Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper. 'I know nothing about white supremacists.'

'This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,' Duke said after he slithered his way into Charlottesville on Saturday. '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.'

Trump doesn’t have the moral clarity needed to immediately denounce Duke and his “take our country back” white supremacy. Trump doesn’t have the moral authority needed to make such commanding words stick. He ceded that moral high ground ages ago. And Trump has neither the interest nor the care to turn his words into deeds that heal the nation, especially with white nationalists like Stephen K. Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka just steps away from the Oval Office. Especially when he is pursuing immigration, justice and voting rights policies that further the goals of white nationalists."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s horrible and predictable response to white supremacy in Charlottesville.

UPDATE II:  Foolishly, some people thought of Nazis as "'crazy people, stupid fanatics. Unfortunately it was not so. They knew they were not strong enough to conquer a unified country, so they split Germany into small groups. They used prejudice as a practical weapon to cripple the nation.'"

Read the Washington Post, After Charlottesville violence, World War II anti-fascist propaganda video finds a new audience.

UPDATE:  "Why does Trump resist condemning white supremacy? The most obvious answer is that he’s encouraging the racism of some of his supporters, after a campaign that derived initial energy from his racist birther conspiracy theories and in many ways was framed around the narrative that white identity and white America are under siege. White nationalism is now alive and well in the White House; we are reaping the inevitable consequences. . .

[But an additional reason is that] Trump’s resistance appears rooted in part in an instinctual sense that so doing would constitute some form of capitulation. In his remarks, Trump repeated the phrase 'on many sides' in a pointed tone, as if to signal that he will not be bullied by any objection to his false equivalence or any pressure to single out anti-black racism. . .

The message that Trump surely received — one he surely continues to believe — is that there is no reason for him to capitulate to politically correct demands that he explicitly condemn racism towards any minorities. But this raises a profound problem. It is likely that Trump views this whole affair as being all about him — that is, as all about whether he will surrender to his foes. He seems incapable of grasping that amid such crises, his office carries with it certain very grave responsibilities to the American people. . .

Trump clearly recognizes no obligation to the broader public of any kind as a function of the office entrusted to him. This isn’t just racism. It’s also his megalomaniacal inability to envision that his role might require duties above and beyond his desire to deepen his bond with certain supporters (which of course is all about him) or the fact that he doesn’t want to be seen surrendering in some vague sense.

And this could have continuing consequences.  The Times reports that white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups are only emboldened by the weekend’s events, and predict that their movement is growing — which means we may see more of this going forward. Brian Beutler argues that Trump’s refusal to call them out by name may well reflect an active desire to empower these groups and, more broadly, to realize their vision. "

Read the Washington Post, Why is Trump reluctant to condemn white terrorism? It’s his racism — and his megalomania.

While fear, anger, and hatred has been a great Republi-CON campaign strategy for many years, it is, of course, a terrible governing philosophy.

And it has proven to lead to violence.

Read the Washington Post:

White House confronts backlash over Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville,

One group loved Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville: White supremacists,

‘Look at the campaign he ran’: Charlottesville mayor is becoming one of Trump’s strongest critics,

After Charlottesville: End the denial about Trump, which noted:

"It should not have taken President Trump’s disgraceful refusal to condemn white supremacy, bigotry and Nazism to make clear to all who he is and which dark impulses he is willing to exploit to maintain his hold on power. . .

There are not, as Trump insisted Saturday, “many sides” to questions that were settled long ago: Racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination and white supremacy are unequivocally wrong.

A president who cannot bring himself to say this immediately and unequivocally squanders any claim to moral leadership. . .

For make no mistake: No matter how accurate it is to say that neo-Nazis and Klansmen represent a repugnant fringe, the fact that our president has consistently and successfully exploited white racial resentment cannot help but be taken by citizens of color as a sign of racism’s stubborn durability.

The backlash to racial progress is an old American story, from the end of Reconstruction forward. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words from 1967 speak to us still: “Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro, there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.” This is what we saw this weekend.

The battles over Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville and elsewhere, reflect our difficulty in acknowledging that these memorials are less historical markers than political statements. Many were erected explicitly in support of Jim Crow and implicitly to deny the truth that the Southern cause in the Civil War was built around a defense of slavery. Taking them down is an acknowledgment of what history teaches, not an eradication of the past." 

Trump fires back after the CEO of Merck resigned from his manufacturing council,

Raise your hand if you are pretending to be surprised.

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