This week’s New Yorker cover

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“President Trump’s weak pushback to hate groups—as if he was trying not to alienate them as voters—compelled me to take up my pen,” David Plunkert, the artist behind next week’s issue, said. Plunkert seldom takes on political subject matter, but felt moved to do so in light of Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. “A picture does a better job showing my thoughts than words do; it can have a light touch on a subject that’s extremely scary.”

How cartoons are mocking the president’s Trump Tower press conference

  The Washington Post
“I’M NOT putting anybody on a moral plane,” President Trump said Tuesdayduring his heated news conference from the lobby of Trump Tower, as The Washington Post reported, while speaking to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. “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.”Here is “the way it is” through the lens of some American cartoonists, who viewed events a bit differently:

 

by David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star (CagleCartoons.com) 2017

 

TAYLOR JONES (Cagle Cartoons):

JEFF DANZIGER (Rutland Herald):

CLAY BENNETT (Chattanooga Times Free Press):

SIGNE WILKINSON (Philly.com):

Trump must go … The Washington Post Op/ED

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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. No one who comes from a past such as mine, which includes similar mobs rising up and ultimately collaborating in the murder of dozens of my family members in Hitler’s Europe, could view Trump’s performance without a degree of fear as well. Certainly, the same must be true for African Americans who have watched such mobs lynch their family members and seek to deny them the most basic rights.

That is why condemnation of what happened in Charlottesville came so quickly and naturally from leaders of conscience worldwide. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has stepped up to fill the void as leader of the West created by Trump’s moral bankruptcy and incompetence, immediately called the actions of the white supremacists in Virginia “horrifying” and “evil” and stated, “It is racist, far-right violence and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens.” She also swiftly displayed humanity and sensitivity by expressing sympathy to the family of Heather Heyer, killed by an extreme right-wing act of terrorism in the streets of Charlottesville. Trump has yet to speak to Heyer’s family directly or visit the site of the attack, steps he took, for example, following an incident at Ohio State, when the attacker was Muslim.

From the United Kingdom to Italy to the Vatican to China, the violence in the United States and the racism of the extremists were decried by leaders who seemed to grasp the values for which the United States has fought throughout the past century. This tracks with a broader trend in which foreign leaders, some once seen as the United States’ closest allies, have found themselves having to distance themselves from the inflammatory language and actions of the American president.

Some of us have long been urging people to see that the Trump presidency was “not normal.” But we are past such discussions now. There is only one conclusion that any American patriot of either party can draw. Trump must go.

It has been perfectly natural during the first few months of this presidency for commentators and political leaders to treat Trump, his statements and actions like those of his predecessors. But in the past week, the dangers of his reflexive behavior have become even more crystal clear. In a matter of days, the president’s reckless remarks have triggered fears of nuclear war with North Korea, he threatened military action against Venezuela, he continued his quiet war against the environment and the U.S. public health system and then, in response to Charlottesville, he revealed his true colors and that he is not preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution as his oath requires. Rather, he is at war with it and its values — from a free press, to an independent judiciary, to equal protection for all under the law.

Since the Team of Sycophants will never invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him, the responsibility lies with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to reveal his wrongdoing. A great task is upon whistle-blowers in the government to challenge Trump’s attacks on American institutions, upon Congress to investigate not only his ties to Russia but also his possible corruption, and ultimately, upon the American people to vote out Trump supporters and enablers on Capitol Hill, and then, ensure a suitable replacement for him in 2020.

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.

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Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

By Robin Wright ~ The New Yorker

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A day after the brawling and racist brutality and deaths in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe asked, “How did we get to this place?” The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, Saint Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.

America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy askedto evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.

“We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,” Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville. The pattern of civil strife has evolved worldwide over the past sixty years. Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.

Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

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When the President Is Un-American ~ Paul Krugman ~ NYT Op/ED

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A torch-lit parade of neo-Nazis and segregationists marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night. Credit Edu Bayer for The New York Times

Remember back in 2008, when Sarah Palin used to talk about the “real America”? She meant rural and small-town residents — white residents, it went without saying — who supposedly embodied the nation’s true essence.

She was harshly condemned for those remarks, and rightly so — and not just because the real, real America is a multiracial, multicultural land of great metropolitan areas as well as small towns. More fundamentally, what makes America America is that it is built around an idea: the idea that all men are created equal, and are entitled to basic human rights. Take away that idea and we’re just a giant version of a two-bit autocracy.

And maybe that is what we have, in fact, become. For Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the murderous white supremacists in Charlottesville finally confirms what has become increasingly obvious: The current president of the United States isn’t a real American.

Real Americans understand that our nation is built around values, not the “blood and soil” of the marchers’ chants; what makes you an American is your attempt to live up to those values, not the place or race your ancestors came from. And when we fall short in our effort to live up to our ideals, as we all too often do, at least we realize and acknowledge our failure.

But the man who began his political ascent by falsely questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth — a blood-and-soil argument if ever there was one — clearly cares nothing about the openness and inclusiveness that have always been essential parts of who we are as a nation.

 But the present occupant of the White House has made no secret of preferring the company, not of democratic leaders, but of authoritarian rulers — not just Vladimir Putin, but people like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Rodrigo Duterte, the homicidal leader of the Philippines. When Trump visited Saudi Arabia, his commerce secretary exulted in the absence of hostile demonstrations, an absence ensured by the repressiveness of the regime.

Real Americans expect public officials to be humbled by the responsibility that comes with the job. They’re not supposed to be boastful blowhards, constantly claiming credit for things they haven’t done — like Trump bragging about job creation that has continued at more or less the same pace as under his predecessor — or which never even happened, like his mythical victory in the popular vote.

Real Americans understand that being a powerful public figure means facing criticism. That comes with the job, and you’re supposed to tolerate that criticism even if you feel it’s unfair. Foreign autocrats may rage against unflattering news reports, threaten to inflict financial harm on publications they dislike, talk about imprisoning journalists; American leaders aren’t supposed to sound like that.

Finally, real Americans who manage to achieve high office realize that they are servants of the people, meant to use their position for the public good. In practice, human nature being what it is, many officials have in fact taken financial advantage of their office. But we’ve always understood that this was wrong — and presidents, in particular, are supposed to be above such things. Now we have a leader who is transparently exploiting his office for personal enrichment, in ways that all too obviously amount in practice to influence-buying by domestic malefactors and foreign governments alike.

In short, these days we have a president who is really, truly, deeply un-American, someone who doesn’t share the values and ideals that made this country special.

In fact, he’s so deeply alienated from the American idea that he can’t even bring himself to fake it. We all know that Trump feels comfortable with white supremacists, but it’s amazing that he won’t even give them a light tap on the wrist. We all know that Putin is Trump’s kind of guy, but it’s remarkable that Trump won’t even pretend to be outraged at Putin’s meddling with our election.

Speaking of which: I have no more idea than anyone else what Robert Mueller’s probe into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, questionable financial ties, possible obstruction of justice and more will find. Trump is acting very much like someone with something big to hide, but we don’t yet know exactly what that something is.

Whatever role foreign influence may have played and may still be playing, however, we don’t need to wonder whether an anti-American cabal, hostile to everything we stand for, determined to undermine everything that truly makes this country great, has seized power in Washington. It has: it’s called the Trump administration.

Opinions: After Charlottesville: End the denial about Trump

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  The Washington Post
 

It should not have taken the death and injury of innocents to move our nation toward moral clarity. 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.

Those of us who are white regularly insist that the racists and bigots are a minority of us and that the white-power movement is a marginal and demented faction.

This is true, and the mayhem in Charlottesville called forth passionate condemnations of blood-and-soil nationalism across the spectrum of ideology. These forms of witness were a necessary defense of the American idea and underscored the shamefulness of Trump’s embrace of moral equivalence. 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.Advisers to the president tried to clean up after this moral failure, putting out a statement Sunday morning — attributed to no one — declaring that “of course” his condemnation of violence “includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” But if that “of course” is sincere, why didn’t Trump say these things in the first place? And why hang on to the president’s inexcusable moral equivalence by adding that phrase “and all extremist groups”? This was simply a weak philosophical coverup for a politician who has shown us his real instincts throughout his public life, from his birtherism to his reluctance to turn away 2016 endorsements from Klansmen and other racists.

More Republicans than usual broke with Trump after his anemic response, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was especially poignant in offering historical perspective on this episode: “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

But that so many others in the party preferred to keep their discomfort on background was itself a scandal. “I can’t tell you how sick & tired I am of the ‘privately wincing’ Republicans,” Peter Wehner, a veteran of three Republican administrations, tweeted. “It’s a self-incriminating silence.” Yes, it is.

The proper response is for Democrats and Republicans willing to take a stand to force a vote in Congress condemning the president for his opportunistic obtuseness and making clear where the vast majority of Americans stand on white supremacy. This is important for many reasons, but especially to send a message to America’s minorities that whites are willing to do more than offer rote condemnations of racism.

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 1967speak 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.

Rescue personnel help an injured woman after a car ran into a large group of counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Saturday. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

 

But history is also being made now. As is always true with Trump, self-interest is the most efficient explanation for his actions: Under pressure from the Russia investigation, he is reluctant to alienate backlash voters, who are among his most loyal supporters.

The rest of us, however, have a larger obligation to our country and to racial justice. As the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer might suggest, it is time to ask about Trump: When will we become sick and tired of being sick and tired?

The Policies of White Resentment ~ NYT

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White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.

If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.

That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new. White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back, as the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities in Colfax, La. (1873), Wilmington, N.C. (1898), Ocoee, Fla. (1920), and Tulsa, Okla. (1921), attest. White resentment needs the boogeyman of job-taking, maiden-ravaging, tax-evading, criminally inclined others to justify the policies that thwart the upward mobility and success of people of color.

The last half-century hasn’t changed that. The war on drugs, for example, branded African-Americans and Latinos as felons, which stripped them of voting rights and access to housing and education just when the civil rights movement had pushed open the doors to those opportunities in the United States.

Similarly, the intensified war on immigrants comes, not coincidentally, at the moment when Latinos have gained visible political power, asserted their place in American society and achieved greater access to schools and colleges. The ICE raids have terrorized these communities, led to attendance drop-offs in schools and silenced many from even seeking their legal rights when abused.

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