Sunday, August 20, 2017

NY Times -- The Benefits of Standing by the President

Blind loyalty to Trump helped Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity giant Blackstone, nail down one of the biggest deals on Wall Street this year — its selection by Saudi Arabia to manage a new $20 billion fund, the largest in the world to invest in infrastructure projects.

The Saudi’s decided on Schwarzman because he's a close adviser of Trump. The announcement of the deal was even made at the royal palace in Riyadh as Trump and Jared Kushner looked on.

Nothing illegal occurred, as far as we know. But the deal makes clear how much corporate leaders stand to gain by sticking by Trump, and how much they risk by standing up to him -- as several did this past week. Even more kudos to them.

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Ben Protess, Michael Corkery

Remembering Dick Gregory, legendary comic and civil rights activist

From politicians and actors to activists and comedians, to fans and friends — people have been taking to Twitter in droves to pay homage to Dick Gregory, the iconic satirist and civil rights activist who died on Saturday at the age of 84.

“He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live,” wrote activist Rev. Jesse Jackson. “Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

Dick Gregory was jailed and beaten by Birmingham police for parading without a permit in 1963. He took a bullet in the knee while trying to calm a crowd during the Watts riots in 1965. Two years later, he ran for mayor of Chicago against the infamous Richard Daley.

He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and in 1968 he ran for president against Richard Nixon. He pulled an astonishing 1.5 million votes—as a write-in candidate. During that campaign, he was arrested by U.S. Treasury agents for printing and distributing fake American currency with his picture on the bills as campaign literature.

He was an activist and a comedian, well known for his hunger strikes for justice. In 1967, he weighed more than 280 pounds and smoked and drank heavily. Then he began a public fast starting Thanksgiving Day to protest the war in Vietnam. 40 days later, he broke his fast with a hearty glass of fruit juice. He weighed 97 pounds.

In the summer of 1968, he fasted for 45 days as a show of solidarity with Native Americans. The following summer he did another 45 days in protest of de-facto segregation in the Chicago public schools. In 1970 he went 81 days to bring attention to the narcotics problem in America. Beginning in 1971 he went nearly three years without solid foods, again to protest the war. During that stretch he ran 900 miles from Chicago to D.C.

During the Iran hostage crisis, he traveled to Tehran in an effort to free the hostages and he traveled to the north of Ireland to advise hunger-striking IRA prisoners. In his campaign against hunger he traveled to Ethiopia more than ten times.

Throughout his life, Dick Gregory was a target of FBI and police surveillance, and he was virtually banned from the entertainment arena for his political activism.

He died today at the age of 84. We spoke with him many times on Democracy Now!, about racial profiling, the death penalty & more. Hear him tell his life story, in his own words:

February 26, 2002

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boston Globe -- In a city with fraught racial past, a day of protest against hatred and bigotry (VIDEO)

By Mark Arsenault

Today, Boston set the example of how political rallies and counter-protest should be managed. Everything the Mayor and Boston Police Department said in news conferences prior to Saturday’s rally they executed without a hitch. There were some skirmishes and confrontations but very few. We are all proud of the people of Boston and what Massachusetts and Boston stand for: “peace and love not bigotry and hate.”

A city with a fraught racial past turned out tens of thousands of protesters Saturday for an overwhelming denunciation of racism, anti-Semitism, and religious bigotry, in a demonstration that was largely peaceful though punctuated with scuffles and some edgy nose-to-nose encounters among demonstrators.

On a hot, humid day, sweaty throngs on Boston Common chanted — sometimes angrily, often profanely — against Nazis, against racism, the KKK and fascists. They held signs calling for peace, waved the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement and held placards honoring Heather Heyer, a woman killed last weekend opposing white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville.

My co-workers thought I was crazy to come here because a woman was killed last week,” said Ny Martin, 40, of Medford. “But that’s why I had to be here.

The local impetus for the massive demonstration on Boston Common was a rally planned before Charlottesville by the Boston Free Speech Coalition, a group that claims to promote open dialogue but that civil rights advocates say is linked to people who espouse racial hatred and violence. Coming a week after the Virginia violence, the Boston “free speech” event generated a massive response by residents and law enforcement.

I think it’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love not bigotry and hate, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.

Police Commissioner William B. Evans said in a press conference after the event, We probably had 40,000 people out here standing our city and that’s a good feeling.

Nearly all the demonstrators were here for the right reason, Evans said, though we did have people who came here to cause problems.

Business Insider -- Steve Mnuchin's Yale classmates are urging him to resign from the Trump Administration in protest

Over 300 of Steve Mnuchin’s Yale University Class of 1985 classmates signed a letter asking him to resign as Secretary of the Treasury in response to President Donald Trump’s comments on recent events in Charlottesville.

In part, the letter to Mnuchin said,

“We do so today because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings. “President Trump made those declarations loudly, clearly, and unequivocally, and he said them as you stood next to him.

"We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing.”

The class members are made up of different political persuasions but said they cannot condone Nazis and white supremacists. “We can disagree on the means of promoting the general welfare of the country, on the size and role of government, on the nature of freedom and security, but we cannot take the side of what we know to be evil.”

Matthew Countryman, one of Mnuchin's classmates, stated their letter had nothing to do with politics: "This is not a matter of the debt ceiling or the infrastructure project. This is a question of what kind of democracy, what kind of nation will we be, and whose side is [Mnuchin] on.”

By Bryan Logan

Bannon: 'The Trump Presidency That We Fought For, and Won, Is Over'

Did Donald Trump and Steve Bannon just go from friends to enemies?

No. Their partnership, albeit in a different way, may be even stronger than ever.

Here’s Bannon’s declaration upon returning to Breitbart News after his resignation as White House Chief Strategist:

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” according to Bloomberg News. 

The Weekly Standard:

With the departure from the White House of strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who helped shape the so-called nationalist-populist program embraced by Donald Trump in his unlikely path to election, a new phase of the Trump presidency begins. Given Trump’s nature, what comes next will hardly be conventional, but it may well be less willfully disruptive—which, to Bannon, had been the point of winning the White House.

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said Friday, shortly after confirming his departure. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

By Peter J. Boyer

The secret, dangerous world of private prisons

The private prison industry is booming, and Trump will keep it that way. In one of his first acts on the job, Attorney General Jeff Sessions immediately rescinded an Obama administration order to phase-out the use of private prisons altogether.

Not surprisingly, the stock prices of for-profit prison corporations have soared since the order was revoked. One company (The GEO Group, which operates 64 prisons across the country) has already scored $774 million worth of federal contracts this year.

The Obama administration wanted to close private prisons for a reason. The Justice Department's inspector general found that privately-run facilities are far less safe than those operated by the federal Bureau of Prisons. For example, private prisons have higher rates of violence and limited access to health care.

In reversing Obama's decision, the Trump administration has once again embraced the idea that private prisons are more efficient.

Rubbish. The so-called “market” for private prisons is an utter fallacy. Prisoners aren't consumers who can switch facilities when the service is lousy. Nor do taxpayers have enough information on how inmates are treated to affect outcomes. Private prisons only create incentives to put more people behind bars.

Sessions is proving he’s every bit as awful as we had expected, once again dragging the country backwards. We must close these facilities and end mass incarceration.

For example, “Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.

The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.

Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.

If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.

Meanwhile, inmates subsist in bare-bones conditions with few programs to give them a better shot at becoming productive citizens. Each inmate is worth $24.39 a day in state money, and sheriffs trade them like horses, unloading a few extras on a colleague who has openings. A prison system that leased its convicts as plantation labor in the 1800s has come full circle and is again a nexus for profit, according to Nola.

By David Gambacorta

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Hill -- Bannon exit raises new questions for White House

“Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to the conservative Breitbart News website on Friday and said he’ll be ‘going to war’ for President Donald Trump, vowing to intensify from the outside the fight he has waged against opponents of his brand of populist conservatism.

“’If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,’ Bannon said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News hours after his departure was announced,” according to Bloomberg News.

Steve Bannon’s days at the White House are over, but questions remain over how much influence — or chaos — he will cause from the outside.

While the chief strategist’s ouster is a victory for new White House chief of staff John Kelly and his goal of eliminating leaks and bringing order to the Oval Office, some believe Bannon could be an even more disruptive force for the Trump administration from the outside.

Bannon returned to Breitbart News immediately after his departure. He had turned the news site into a right-wing juggernaut as chairman before joining the Trump campaign.

Steve’s allies in the populist-nationalist movement are ready to ride to the gates of hell with him against the West Wing Democrats and globalists like [deputy national security adviser] Dina Powell, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, [economic adviser] Gary Cohn and [national security adviser] H.R. McMaster, said one Bannon ally.

“They should all be very worried that their efforts to undermine the president will be exposed,” the ally continued. If they think what’s happened with Steve is rough, wait until they see what he does outside the White House.

By Jonathan Easley And Jordan Fabian

Bloomberg -- Bannon Says He's `Going to War for Trump' After White House Exit

Removing Steve Bannon or other alt-right factions from the White House is ridiculous. The problem is Trump. The President is a white nationalist and racist, and he believes that he is superior to others. Hate groups are Trump’s people. The only way to solve the problem is to remove Donald Trump from office.

The problem was never just Steve Bannon. It was and always will be Donald Trump, -- Senator Bernie Sanders

Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to the conservative Breitbart News website on Friday and said he’ll be going to war for President Donald Trump, vowing to intensify from the outside the fight he has waged against opponents of his brand of populist conservatism.

“’If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America, Bannon said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News hours after his departure was announced.

Bannon led the evening editorial meeting at Breitbart, where he resumed his role as executive chairman, the website said in a statement.

He left the White House earlier Friday, ending a controversial tenure as the administration is engulfed in a storm over the president’s remarks on violence in Virginia. Bannon’s departure was agreed on mutually with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

By Joshua Green, Justin Sink, Margaret Talev

Economist -- Donald Trump has no grasp of what it means to be president

Defenders of President Donald Trump offer two arguments in his favour—that he is a businessman who will curb the excesses of the state; and that he will help America stand tall again by demolishing the politically correct taboos of left-leaning, establishment elites. From the start, these arguments looked like wishful thinking. After Mr Trump’s press conference in New York on August 15th they lie in ruins.

The unscripted remarks were his third attempt to deal with violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend (see article). In them the president stepped back from Monday’s—scripted—condemnation of the white supremacists who had marched to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and fought with counter-demonstrators, including some from the left. In New York, as his new chief of staff looked on dejected, Mr Trump let rip, stressing once again that there was blame “on both sides”. He left no doubt which of those sides lies closer to his heart.

Mr Trump is not a white supremacist [I disagree here, he is a white nationalist and a racist]. He repeated his criticism of neo-Nazis and spoke out against the murder of Heather Heyer (see our Obituary). Even so, his unsteady response contains a terrible message for Americans. Far from being the savior of the Republic, their president is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office.

Another day of big news. My sympathy goes out to the victims of the horrific terrorist attack in Spain.

And back home more aftershocks from the President about our own precarious state. If you want to know how other parts of the world see what is happening here, consider this provocative cover and accompanying text from The Economist, hardly a left-wing publication. A sample quote:

"Mr Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defense of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view."

ABC -- Charlottesville victim’s mother says, 'I’m not talking to the president now after what he said' (VIDEO)

(Proud Mother Says 
Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer 
'Was About Stopping Hatred' | Common Dreams)

By Sabina Ghebremedhin, Kelly Mckelvey, 
Catherine Thorbecke  

The mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed Saturday when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said she "will not" speak with President Donald Trump in the wake of her daughter's death.

“I have not and now I will not,” Susan Bro said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts today on “Good Morning America,” adding that she believes the first phone call to her from the White House came during her daughter’s public memorial service on Wednesday.

“The first call, it looked like actually came during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message,” said Bro. “There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day and I didn’t know why.”

Bro, who had thanked Trump in a statement on Monday for his "words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred,” said she was recovering from the exhaustion of the funeral Wednesday and did not return the White House messages.

She said her opinion of Trump’s response changed after she had time to watch news coverage of the Charlottesville protests after laying Heyer, 32, to rest on Wednesday.

"I hadn’t really watched the news until last night and I’m not talking to the president now, after what he said," Bro explained. "It’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters ... with the KKK and the white supremacists."

She continued, "You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving for that."

STAT News -- White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests. Some don’t like what they find

It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86 percent European, and … 14 percent Sub-Saharan African.” The studio audience whooped and laughed and cheered. And Cobb — who was, in 2013, charged with terrorizing people while trying to create an all-white enclave in North Dakota — reacted like a sore loser in the schoolyard.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute,” he said, trying to put on an all-knowing smile. “This is called statistical noise.”

Then, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he took to the white nationalist website Stormfront to dispute those results. That’s not uncommon: With the rise of spit-in-a-cup genetic testing, there’s a trend of white nationalists using these services to prove their racial identity, and then using online forums to discuss the results.

White supremacist Craig Cobb
found out through DNA testing
that he was “86 percent European,
14 percent Sub-Saharan African.

Kevin Cederstrom/AP

By Eric Boodman

Dan Rather: Trump’s glorifying ‘the greatest band of traitors’ in US history

In a Thursday morning tweet, Donald Trump once again stood up for the principle that honoring the leaders of a 19th century rebellion whose goal was to entrench the institution of chattel slavery is similar to honoring the founders of the United States of America.

Dan Rather:

The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. To borrow a phrase from the President's own limited eloquence - Sad!

In another Twitter rant this morning, Mr. Trump has tripled down, quadrupled down (haven't we lost count by now) on his morally bankrupt false equivalence between not only Nazis, anti-Semites, other racists, and the counter-protesters. But he's now equating the greatest band of traitors in American history with our Founding Fathers.

No Robert E. Lee and George Washington are not in the same category. Go to Mt. Vernon and you will learn about a heroic but tragically flawed man who could not escape the deep prejudices of his time even as he wrestled with their moral injustices. Head to the monuments of the Confederacy and you will see only the exultations of those who sought to tear the United States asunder so they could keep in place a cruel bondage of their fellow human beings.

This could be a time for a reckoning with our history, but it seems that the only history Mr. Trump is interested in is revisionist sloganeering.

The United States abolished slavery, but at a great and bloody cost. We abolished legal segregation, also at great cost. I covered Klan rallies in the 1960s, and I have seen that hatred up close. It made my blood run cold, as a privileged, white Christian male. I could not imagine the terror it would strike in the peoples for which it was intended.

Even before this recent descent into Nazi and Klan rallies of heavily armed bigots, we had a long way to go on racial justice. Now it seems we are in danger of more bloodshed and open conflict. I have no doubt that the forces of good will win out, but at what cost?

The demons from our past have never been put to rest, but their destiny is for the trash heap of history. And all decent Americans should not only say that but act accordingly. The time for cheap words is over. The question is will Americans realize that a quick Twitter post won't do. Will theyh stand up? Will they speak openly and honestly? Will they name names? We have a President openly waving the banner of The Lost Cause.

Many have died for the cause for justice. And so I end here with a quote from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. These were words that Republicans used to stand by and I hope they do again. Mr. Lincoln's sentiments do not seem dated, but tragically of our moment:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Time -- Prominent Supporter of President Trump Admits He Regrets His Vote

Julius Krein, who founded American Affairs and has been described as a "pro-Trump journal based on the promise to "Make America Great Again," now realizes that Trump's actions threaten the future of the country. Krein now has disavowed the president for his response to Charlottesville, and he encourages others to do the same.

He writes:

"I can’t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president..."

"It is now clear that we were deluding ourselves. Either Mr. Trump is genuinely sympathetic to the David Duke types, or he is so obtuse as to be utterly incapable of learning from his worst mistakes. Either way, he continues to prove his harshest critics right..."

"Mr. Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone in the street and not lose voters. Well, someone was just killed in the street by a white supremacist in Charlottesville. His refusal this weekend to specifically and immediately denounce the groups responsible for this intolerable violence was both morally disgusting and monumentally stupid. In this, Mr. Trump failed perhaps the easiest imaginable test of presidential leadership. Rather than advance a vision of national unity that he claims to represent, his indefensible equivocation can only inflame the most vicious forces of division within our country."

Kudos to Krein for taking a stand against racism. More Trump supporters have begun to see the danger his presidency poses to the country. We all need to speak out against this demagoguery -- regardless of our political party -- to reaffirm our values as Americans,” -- Robert Reich

By Katie Reilly

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time -- Mother of Charlottesville Victim Urges 'Righteous Action' in Powerful Speech

There was a memorial service yesterday for Heather Heyer, the young woman killed over the weekend while protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Her mother offered forgiveness and urged mourners to honor her daughter by standing up to the injustices in the world:

"Let's channel ... anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let's channel that difference, that anger, into righteous action."

"You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. 'What is there I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see?' … You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world."

"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 gotta give her up, we're going to make it count."

I have no doubt that if we take these words to heart and follow in Heather's footsteps, we can overcome the hate that took her life. Find what's wrong. Don't ignore it. Ask yourself what you can do to make a difference.

By Brian Witte and Sarah Rankin

STAT -- Democrats in Congress Explore Creating an Expert Panel on Trump’s Mental Health

There is also a bill aimed at establishing a “commission on presidential capacity”

Many politicians, journalist, academics, and many in the mental health community are increasingly questioning the state of Trump’s mind and whether he is capable of continuing to be our President.

Political commentator George Will says President Trump is someone who is not able to "think and speak clearly,"and that it’s “up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict."

Robert Reich, author and chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkley, is the former Labor Secretary to President Bill Clinton. He argues that it is “now time to seriously consider the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for removal of a president who is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’.”

Trump’s deviant behavior is a problem. Many have called his mental problem to be outright dangerous for our country. But a Republican-led Congress will not take any action and that’s perhaps the most significant problem we have.

Three congressional Democrats have asked a psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine to consult with them about forming an expert panel to offer the legislators advice on assessing President Trump’s mental health.

Yale’s Dr. Bandy Lee told STAT that over the last few weeks members of Congress or their staff have asked her to discuss how members might convene psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals “to review the president’s mental health and review it on a periodic basis.” The closed meeting is expected to take place in September, she said.

The request came from three current congressmen and one former member, she said. She declined to name them, saying they told her they did not wish to be publicly identified yet.

The invitation comes as 27 representatives, all Democrats, have co-sponsored a bill to establish “a commission on presidential capacity.” The commission would carry out a provision of the 25th Amendment, which gives Congress the authority to establish a body with the power to declare a president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Under the bill, H.R. 1987, eight of the 11 members of the commission would be physicians, including four psychiatrists.

Trump has not released his medical records beyond a brief summary from his physician last year. He has said he never sought or received a mental health evaluation or therapy.

But since his election and, increasingly, his inauguration, a number of mental health experts have spoken or written about what Trump’s behavior and speech suggest about his cognitive and emotional status, including impulsivity and paranoia, with some offering formal diagnoses, such as narcissistic personality disorder.

In a book scheduled for publication in October that was edited by Lee, 27 experts offer their views of what Lee calls “Trump’s mental symptoms,” including his impulsivity, “extreme present focus,” pathological levels of narcissism, and an apparent lack of trust that is a sign of deep paranoia. The book is based on a small meeting Lee organized at Yale in April on whether psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” about any dangers Trump poses because of his psychological makeup.

By Sharon Begley

Mic -- The federal government had a plan to combat right-wing violence. Trump axed it in June.

Trump's attitude towards white supremacist groups goes beyond his rhetoric. In June, the Department of Homeland Security cancelled a $400,000 grant for Life After Hate, an organization dedicated to stopping the spread of white supremacist groups. The nonprofit offers support for neo-Nazis who want to transition back into society.

The grant was cancelled just weeks after the department released a report with the FBI warning against an increase in white supremacist violence. According to the law enforcement experts, "Lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist (WSE) movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year." The report also noted that over the past decade these groups have been responsible for more attacks than any other domestic terrorism threat.

Trump's politics of hate and division jeopardizes the safety and security of the American people.

By Jake Horowitz

Business Insider -- Steve Bannon was reportedly thrilled by Trump's wild press conference

Steve Bannon couldn't be happier with Trump's equating white supremacists with those who demonstrated against them in Charlottesville, praising Trump's shameful press conference yesterday as a defining moment.

Bannon has been advising Trump on how to fuel the haters and bigots. Trump must fire Bannon. Now-- Robert Reich

Reich is wrong. Firing Steve Bannon will not accomplish anything. Trump’s the problem. Steve Bannon is just part of the evidence that President Trump is a white nationalist and racist. I say, let Steve Bannon alone. His continued presence in the Administration may lead to an early Trump impeachment.

Trump said on Tuesday that there were "two sides to the story."

"As far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day ... You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent," Trump said. "Nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it,” Trump said.

Bannon, well-known for his far-right and nationalist views, thoroughly approved of Trump's remarks, a friend of Bannon told Politico. The news comes as the White House strategist has once again found himself in the limelight in recent days, amid reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly is scrutinizing Bannon's role in the West Wing.

Bannon has also been accused of mobilizing an effort to smear national security adviser H.R. McMaster, whose views often run counter to Bannon's and those of the administration's nationalist wing.

By Sonam Sheth

Here’s why the Mayor of New Orleans is taking down Confederate monuments (VIDEO)

By Matthew Dessem

The city of New Orleans removed a monument to Robert E. Lee on Friday [May 19], the last of four monuments to the Confederacy the city council voted to remove in 2015, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the occasion with a blunt speech about his city’s need to confront its past. “The Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity,” Landrieu told an audience at Gallier Hall, contrasting New Orleans’ multi cultural history with the ideals of the Confederacy. Landrieu dismissed claims that men like Lee, Jefferson Davis, or P.G.T. Beauregard—all of whom were depicted on the recently removed monuments—were worthy of the honor . . . .

“’It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this case, they were not patriots. … The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong,’ said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. ‘Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans, and set the tone for the next 300 years."

In defense of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Trump questioned the removal Confederate monuments. I was reminded of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's powerful speech on why these symbols of hatred and violence must come down. -- Robert Reich

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu explains why four Confederate monuments had to be torn down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Time -- How President Trump Failed His Biggest Leadership Test Yet

President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have failed to make our country safer, healthier, unified and provide whats needed for the well-being of all Americans. They have failed America, its Constitution and its people. They have failed to provide the leadership necessary to make that possible.

“Republicans should take note because what they’re supporting, either directly or indirectly, isn’t just an anti-Obama presidency but an anti-American president. Supporting a president who is uninterested, unprepared, and unwilling to learn from his mistakes isn’t just overtly political, it’s immoral. At some point, you are the company you keep.

“If Republicans can’t figure out a way to lead, it’s time for Americans to replace them with someone who can. Someone who can restore faith in government and civility into our national dialogue. Someone respectable. Someone other than the current group of politicians who can’t get over 2008,” writes Huffington Post’s Michael Starr Hopkins.

For seven months, President Donald Trump giddily has ignored the norms of his office and tried the patience of those who had more than a passing knowledge of its history.

But during Tuesday’s press conference, before the gold-plated bank of elevators inside his Midtown temple to himself, the President defended those linked to white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other racist corners of American society in a display that defied any historical precedent. So striking was his bold protection of a small but vocal part of his political base, many reporters in the marble foyer dared to interrupt the President. If he was breaking with custom, so, too, would they.

“If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said of the Friday night march around the University of Virginia campus. That torch-lit procession featured white nationalists chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

Presidents can make war, but the truest test of a commander in chief is his power to heal: Standing on burning rubble in Lower Manhattan or visiting a mosque a few days later, addressing an auditorium to memorialize those killed in coal mines or by a gunman in an elementary school classroom. A president’s words have the capacity to console a nation in grief, settle its collective fears, and call its people to action.

That was the task before Trump as he spoke for the third time since the events in Charlottesville. His first brief remarks, in which he blamed “many sides” for the violence, were heavily criticized. In heavily scripted remarks on Monday, he said all the right words, though he seemed to resent the effort. And finally, at home in Manhattan for the first time since he became president, Trump cut loose.

By Zeke J Miller

NBC News -- He 'Went Rogue': President Trump's Staff Left Stunned (VIDEO)

He ‘Went Rogue’:
President Trump’s Staff Stunned
After Latest Charlottesville Remarks

By Hallie Jackson And Kristen Welker
At least we have Chief of Staff John Kelly in the White House who knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong. It would be great if it would be more than demeanor and express his objection verbally.

Chief of Staff John Kelly stared at the floor, arms crossed. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

In front of him, President Donald Trump was in the middle of reigniting an explosive controversy the White House had tried to extinguish just a day earlier.

To Kelly's right, reporters pressed up against a velvet rope to shout questions about the president's response to the violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. With the élan of an orchestra conductor, Trump pointed at one reporter, then gestured to another. "Infrastructure question," he barked at one point. "Go ahead."

The ensuing exchange inside the lobby of Trump Tower between reporters and the president over the white nationalist rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville became one of the most extraordinary moments in a presidency that's seen plenty of them.

To President Trump's aides, it was stunning. Multiple sources inside and close to the White House described the president's senior staff as confused and frustrated, caught off guard by Trump's decision to defend his initial response to the violence in Virginia.

He went rogue, one senior White House official told NBC News.

John Kelly reacts to President Trump's latest remarks on violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.