Things are about to get worse

Racists marched through the campus of the University of Virginia on August 11th carrying torches.

If you want the news media to lose interest in your scandals and incompetence, offer them a war.

North Korea today poses no more threat to us or its neighbors than it has for the past fifty years. With a little saber-rattling, Trump has briefly succeeded in distracting the cable news media. It won’t be enough to save him. Soon, he’ll need more.

The most dangerous threat to peace and stability in the world is the president of the United States. That threat is about to reach a critical stage.

FBI agents raided the home of Paul Manafort in the early morning hours of July 26th. A grand jury has been empaneled to facilitate evidence collection and consider potential indictments. Despite threats and obstruction from the administration, the special prosecutor is investigating Trump family ties to money laundering operations for Russian organized crime figures.

Walls are closing in on the Trump family, with implications extending far beyond politics. Republicans continue to back Trump, but what happens when we start to see indictments? Unless the president’s stupidity blunders us into some accident, there isn’t going to be a war soon in Korea. However, the posturing we see right now from the Trump family and their retainers could be a prelude to war right here at home.

What does Donald Trump do when the indictments begin to land? How does he respond when federal marshals attempt to arrest Jared Kushner? More to the point, who exactly, has the authority and the will to carry out arrest warrants against Trump insiders or even family members? Will the marshals do it? FBI agents? Local police or sheriffs?

Trump is likely to pardon whoever gets indicted, but that won’t stop the civil suits and property seizures associated with their corrupt business deals. That won’t stop banks and quasi-legitimate businesses from fleeing their exposure to Trump assets. Federal and state indictments against Trump family members will destroy their business empire, regardless of the outcome of any imagined trial. And there will, of course, never be a trial.

Picture a law enforcement official with a court order in one hand and conflicting instructions from the president in the other. Which orders will that official follow? You might assume that an officer will “follow the law,” but what will they do when the law is vague, their individual loyalties are divided, and precedents are unavailable? What will they do when their immediate supervisor sides with Trump?

Take that same ambiguity into the barracks, and the scenarios get very dark, very quickly. What happens when an embattled, discredited, and increasingly incoherent Commander in Chief tries to hastily engineer a war to distract the public. Will generals obey him? Will all our generals obey him? What happens to the ones who won’t, and to the troops they command?

Our most hopeful endgame remains the one discussed here back in the spring. As the scope and severity of looming indictments becomes clear, perhaps Trump simply piles the family into their gold-plated flying ark and flees the country. Beyond the reach of extradition, they could retain most of their financial empire and carry on their lives as exiled royalty. That would be great, but Trump may be too mentally ill and deluded to seize that opportunity while it remains open.

Instead, when justice closes in, Trump may try to split American institutions to retain his hold on power. The unprecedented circumstances make it hard to predict how key players will behave. It will not be enough for sitting officials to merely “follow the law.” There is no settled law to govern the scenarios beginning to play out. We are left to count on human decency and patriotism to win the day. Our faith in those virtues has so far fed a spectacular political failure, as Republicans in Congress have hidden behind cowardice and collusion.

Southern Conservatives who have been pining for the destruction of the republic for generations will seize every opportunity to wreak havoc. Their allies in Russia have assembled an impressive propaganda and disinformation apparatus to aid them. They will fan the slightest ember into a flame. Outcomes probably depend on the success of the wider public in converting Trump’s supporters into pariahs. That won’t stop them from inciting violence, but it will limit their reach, particularly their influence over law enforcement and the military.

What can we do about this individually? Very little. Almost all the bolts in this machine have been assembled through years of work by far-right activists. It’s too late now to dismantle it. We’re going to find out what they can accomplish once that machine is unleashed. All we can do now is to rob the president’s supporters of any sheen of legitimacy. This threat is emerging from a bold and unpopular minority. Their future hinges on public apathy and distraction. A concentrated public effort to identify and isolate his supporters will be critical. The weak and cowardly in both parties and in our corporate establishment will follow the prevailing winds. The public mood influences that wind.

To reach a conclusion of this crisis with a minimum of harm, everyone from your neighbor to your state legislator needs to feel pressure to take a side early, before any threat of organized violence emerges. If people feel unsafe culturally and economically in supporting Donald Trump, he will be left with no help beyond a core of his most committed supporters. That core is small, and it is dominated by people who aren’t terribly clever or effective. Want to beat Donald Trump? Become as unbearable to be around as the idiots who support him have been for decades. Don’t be quiet.

Things are about to get worse. However, be aware that the worst stage of the crisis probably comes after Trump leaves office. Trump is incompetent. Forces that move into the space left open by his fall will be smarter and more capable. None of their priorities will have changed. Decisions we made decades ago placed us here. Discounting the threat from the religious right and underestimating the danger of George W. Bush laid the ground-work for our present crisis. Decisions we make now will determine the state of play in the immediate post-Trump era.

We have years of dangerous political unrest ahead of us, a challenging road to travel toward a more stable future. Brace yourselves.

60 Comments

  1. From the parent of one of the deplorables who was caught on social media. My heart breaks for this family.

    My name is Pearce Tefft, and I am writing to all, with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist who has been featured in a number of local news stories over the last several months.

    On Friday night, my son traveled to Charlottesville, Va., and was interviewed by a national news outlet while marching with reported white nationalists, who allegedly went on to kill a person.

    I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.

    I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.

    Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now.

    Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast.

    His hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association? Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview.

    He once joked, “The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.”

    Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all.

      1. Chris, actions like these, outing and shaming people for their beliefs, no matter how abhorrent those beliefs, and getting them fired from their jobs or expelled from school, is as bad as Germans turning in their neighbors to the Nazi authorities during WW2, or Americans turning in fellow artists during the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s. What is happening today may be worse, because it’s done without pressure from the authorities. Back then you did it to save your own livelihood. Speak up or be backlisted or arrested yourself. Today self-righteous people are outing people willingly and voluntarily, engaging in the very same type of behavior characteristic of the Nazis they are purportedly outraged over.

      2. Um. No. Show me the corpses and I’ll grant you the equivalency.

        What I see here is a bloodless version of war. Still war, but with the carnage removed it becomes a significant human achievement.

        There is still a mob element to it, but again, no bodies swinging in the breeze. Just like with the introduction of democracy (which was derided as mob rule), we will have to find ways to tame the abuses of this system, but it seems like a far more humane and moral way to resolve these fundamental differences than the methods that preceded it.

      3. Tutt, are these people being outed for their beliefs, or for their words and deeds?

        This particular event happened entirely in the private sphere: there was no government involvement. Outside of certain categories (race, gender, age) we generally allow discrimination in the private sphere. That at least complicates things, and differentiates what happened here from, say, Germans in WW2.

        I think you raise an important point, though. We no longer accept that it is proper to stone adulterous women, but society has always policed private behavior to some extent, and we need to use that power circumspectly.

      4. I will state the obvious. I am all for the general public stepping up when the authorities that are supposed protect us have failed.

        They want to target the terrorist leaders, and decapitate these groups? Excellent.
        They want to target terrorists based on reliable information from the terrorists’ own recorded public statements, be it verbal or written, go for it.

        But sooner or later, (likely has already happened) where someone innocent is in the wrong place at the wrong time and inadvertently photobombs some event or some group.
        Or worse, just is mistaken for someone else.

        How many lives have been ruined when wrongly convicted in a court of law? Then visualize what happens when there is no need for a court of law like we have in the social justice forums.

        My previous statements clearly indicate that I am about 3 steps away from vigilantism, but it has to be carefully vetted, if that makes any sense.

      5. I have to agree with Creigh Gordon. These people could have quietly gone about their lives believing as they wish but as soon as they acted as a mob on those beliefs they should be shunned.

      6. You’re right, given the absence of corpses, this isn’t as bad as Nazi Germany. But it’s still troubling that people are being fired for expressing their beliefs *outside of work*. Unless a racist’s beliefs affect his work product, I don’t think they should be fired. Which rally or protest he chooses to join in his own time is up to him.

        I understand that firing someone for their racist beliefs (or indeed, any reason outside of a race, gender, ethnicity) is legal, and in the absence of unions ( 😉 ) workers have no recourse when they’re hired at-will. But I don’t think this is a road we should go down. If the Hobby Lobby CEO fires a worker for peacefully marching in support of gay rights, we would rightly be up in arms. How is this different?

        What this will lead to is people fearful to express their political views, especially if they’re not the dominant view. While no one has a legal right to their job, making you risk your job every time you express yourself is just another way to suppress political expression. Democracy *is* very close to mob rule if it’s not tempered with strong protection for minority views.

        The blog weeklysift.com had an awesome article a few years back that our society is governed both by laws and by norms. While these companies aren’t breaking any laws, they are certainly breaking the norm we’ve had that what you do in your private life is off-limits to your employer as long as you fulfill your job duties.

      7. It’s bigger than your job. Imagine being 24 and single, and this white nationalist crap is on your facebook timeline. Or it shows up in an image on someone else’s FB profile calling you out. How are you going to get a date? Seriously?

        We are moving into a world in which the the encapsulations we used to engage in are breaking down. By that I mean all those little compartments of our lives, where we held our inconsistencies. This is weird stuff.

    1. There is a example of moral courage. That was probably the toughest thing Mr. Tefft has ever done, but it is also the right thing, however painful, for him, the other members of the family, and the county. He also leaves the door open for his son to repent. He has done everything exactly right. I hope he has a good outcome from his bravery.

    2. Kay Ray, I believe you have just one child, an adult son. How would you handle the situation if he became a White supremacist? Would you disown him, when he is all you have in the world? Tell him he was not welcome in your home until he changed his ways?

      This is not a challenge. My questions are sincere. I have no kids of my own, but I have relatives who would never forsake their kids, even when they’ve committed crimes, and they visit them in prison regularly.

      1. I would be disgusted and probably follow in Mr. Tefft’s foot steps. I can’t abide people filled with so much hate and certainly don’t want it in my home. I kicked a person out of my car once for making a racial slur. If you are willing to kill someone because they are different, you should be removed from society for everyone’s safety and that applies to all races and religions. Hatred eats your soul away. Having a kid in prison is entirely different than believing someone “subhuman” because they are not white.

        Luckily, that won’t happen as my son was raised to accept people for their character and not their skin color or religion and was also able to travel while young and exposed to other cultures and belief systems.

        Off topic, but one of the things that is puzzling is how some of these white supremacist types reconcile having Asian or Hispanic wives. If these people are just animals are they committing bestiality?

      2. We cannot see into the minds and hearts of other people, especially those who have been watching a loved one destroy himself over years. We don’t know what efforts this family made to try to help their son and brother, but, it is obvious they failed. Why speak out now? I see the father’s lament as a cry of despair not only for his son but to other parents and our broken society generally. How is it possible that in the United States of America we can be living among people who wish to hurt others simply for holding different beliefs, which is intrinsic to our democracy? Could I have written such a letter? I don’t think so but neither will I judge this heartbroken father for doing so. Grief compels emotions and actions that are unpredictable. It breaks people open. I believe the greater message is to recognize that as parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children from danger while understanding we cannot protect them from their choices or life’s many dangers.

        Those who took part in this protest, both peacefully and with the express intent to inflict violence, lost their right to anonymity. The alt-right leaders have already announced future protests in TX, FL, WA, MA and in one month, again in Charlotte. They come to these events prepared to inflict harm. They must be stopped. Impressionable youth are being led down very dark, dangerous paths by hard-core racists. I believe what this father was really trying to achieve is to send a warning to other parents to be watchful of their childrens’ activities and stop them if they can before it is too late.

  2. ” …those who imagine that Trump’s removal will put things right are likewise deluding themselves. To persist in thinking that he defines the problem is to commit an error of the first order. Trump is not cause, but consequence.”

    Be careful what you ask for. Trump’s departure will not end the conflict that is central to these times. When you honestly (and humbly) confront who in your own family circle voted for this man, try to get to the “why” of their decision then and their insistence now that “white nationalists” are NOT Trump’s base, who, then, is? Your brother? Sister? Former good friend(s)? How can they look at the world around them and see it so differently than you do? Where is the disconnect?

    Why?

    By Andrew J. Bacevich, http://lobelog.com/slouching-toward-mar-a-lago/

    1. Excellent article, but Bacevich’s fourth point, a balanced Federal budget, almost certainly is incompatible with the other economic points. A balanced Federal budget freezes the amount of base money held by the private sector. This would be deflationary and tend toward recessionary. Keynes believed that the private sector, without stimulus from a government deficit, would rarely if ever result in full employment. Full employment for people who want to work is a must for the rest of his points to be effective, and without an ongoing deficit full employment will be sporadic at best.

      It’s not so much a question of choosing between guns and butter as it is between full use of available labor resources and leaving some of the labor resource sitting in front of the TV popping opioids and beating up on the kids and spouse.

    1. Just in case we need a reminder of how vile these traitors are we can take a look at what they said about the victim.

      What Daily Stormer is saying about victim. Really classy guys.

      Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Sl**
      1) She was Fat and a Drain on Society – Despite feigned outrage by the media, most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness. A 32-year-old woman without children is a burden on society and has no value.
      2) Too Fat to Dodge a Dodge – A Dodge Challenger is a fast car. Fat people like Heather fatty fat are slow, slow, slow.
      3) Protesting White Men – She was attending the rally to protest white men. Her social media history shows that she sought the complete abolition of the white race.
      4) Driver was a Straight Player – The driver of the of the car, James Fields, was a hardcore player, and sources claim that he didn’t give a a fuck.
      5) Publicity Stunt by Dodge? – The same day of the crash, Dodge was promoting a “Roadkill Nights” event.

      How low can they sink? According to them a woman who doesn’t have children is a drain on society? Anyone watching The Handmaid’s Tale?

      1. “According to them a woman who doesn’t have children is a drain on society?”

        No shock there. All proper little fascists believe that women have only one purpose- breed cannon fodder for the greater glory of the state.

        I really would love to set up a reservation somewhere and quarantine these fools.

      2. I think the wall part would be a waste of $. Get enough gun worshipping authoritarian white power types in a place, and I’ll keep myself far away from it.

        I do wonder if some form of segregation is going to be the most peaceful alternative. These people don’t like people of color and White people like me who wish to peacefully coexist. I am pestimistic that we can negotiate with them. I do not wish to sink to their level by calling for them to be killed. The only civilized response I can see is to shun them.

      3. Sunday’s Belief section of the Houston Chronicle ran a WaPo article entitled, “Blessed Are the Poor?” by Julie Zauzmer. The gist of the article which was lvery well developed (two pages) is this: “Christians are more likely to peg poverty on lack of effort.” It breaks down the survey by race, religion, and party. I’m not sure there’s a place big enough in America to contain all of those who feel this way. Education, passage of time will help but I no longer buy the argument that “these bigots and racists will die off”…self-correcting the problem. One only needs to look at the growth of these alt-right, white nationalist groups and their age demography to understand this is a societal and cultural problem with far deeper and broader roots than any of us are comfortable acknowledging.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/03/christians-are-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-blame-a-persons-poverty-on-lack-of-effort/?

        An application has already been submitted in Charlottesville for another protest in one month in the same place by the same alt-right group that organized the disaster this weekend, and others are being scheduled in FL, TX (A&M) and WA. I agree with you: shun them. Don’t attend. I am reminded how I felt about media coverage of Trump during the campaign….asking myself why they continued to give him exposure even as none of us (myself included) believed it could possibly help him be elected POTUS… In hindsight, we were all wrong. Indeed, WaPo’s ever-present statement, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is a compelling phrase in terms of what the best response should be. I don’t know anymore but I no longer ignore these people thinking America could never support movements like this. They do and they are.

      4. Several members of this mob have been outed and names posted online after pictures were released. So far one guy has lost his job and another young man’s family has disowned him in disgust.

        I’d like to put them all on an island somewhere and let them try and exist all Lord of the Flies like.

      5. Mary, could it be that it’s Protestants (as opposed to Catholics) who tend to think people are poor because of lack of effort? Their Christian charity may be tempered by their strong belief in the Protestant work ethic.

      6. Tutta, in reading the article, this is explained. The real question is, is it a valid criticism? I don’t think Protestants work any harder than Catholics. Or white people work as hard as brown and black people. They may, however, talk more about how much harder they work than poor people who they see as taking their money. It really doesn’t matter – the point is, the concept of Christianity as I was taught, is not to judge, and to help those who are less fortunate. I am not suggesting helping those who refuse to help themselves, rather, I am suggesting this is a BS argument by many religious zealots in a false attempt to defend their indefensible views under the cloak of criticism of “effort”. You and I both know how hard many people work yet are criticized for receiving government assistance of any kind.

        My retort for people like this? Try living on minimum wage. Working multiple jobs. Raising children as a single parent. Being poor. Try walking in these peoples’ shoes before assigning blanket labels to them.

        I’m sorry but I am too weary of political excuses to not see this for anything more than it is – one more effort to fault people who are poor for receiving taxpayer help. I’m tired of it and I know you know this is hurtful to poor, striving people.

      7. Kay Ray and Fly, despite everything we are seeing these days, I still think respectful communication is the key — firm, no-nonsense dialogue, but without insults — not in an online environment, which is rife with misunderstanding, but face-to-face if possible (but not “in your face”). And if things escalate, turn away so everyone can cool off — momentarily, or for good if there’s truly no hope. But try.

        We can keep our distance without the need to turn people into social pariahs. Outing and shaming people won’t change hearts and minds in any case.

      8. Outing people seems to be having some effect. When your family casts you out, your university questions your status, and other things go south due to someone putting a name to your face, it matters. Perhaps a telephoto lens might be the weapon of choice against these cretins.

        It’s one thing to be a nameless angry white guy. When you have to defend your crack head views to people who thought they knew you, it gets real. The KKK did not wear sheets to make a fashion statement!

      9. Mike, I thought the original purpose of the KKK’s sheets was to spook Black people and scare them away from the voting polls, and now it’s just the official “uniform.” I don’t know about back then, but in modern times you can usually see their faces in photos, so I don’t think it’s about hiding.

      10. It was about hiding as well. In fact, that was a pretty big part of it. One of the things that made the group so slippery was the fact that everyone might pretty much know the sheriff was a member, but you could never quite prove it. In fact, you couldn’t prove that anyone was a member.

      11. Ok, I just Googled “KKK” under “Images,” and I see some photos of faces, but most show the sheets covering the faces. I stand corrected on the part about hiding, but I do remember the original purpose of the sheets being to scare Black people away from the polls.

        So “KKK” is now in my search history. What does that say about me? Remember that article that said that you can determine a person’s political beliefs by looking at their search history, and I disagreed, because I said that some people just search for certain things out of curiosity?

      12. Fly, what I’m always struck by is these guys believe whites are superior yet they look like they are scrapings at the bottom of the gene pool themselves. They are as far from the Aryan ideal as you can get.

  3. White nationalist RIchard Spencer may be coming to Gainesville, FL on Sept. 12 (one day after 9/11) to give a talk. People here are already on edge since we remember the ruckus caused by Terry Jones (a local pastor who burned the Koran back in 2012). The president of the University of Florida has issued a statement which clearly disassociates UF from the values held by Spencer and his organization while affirming his first amendment rights. More at http://bit.ly/2vvnOTC

    1. Supposedly, the reason Trump didn’t “name” the white supremacists is because he didn’t want to dignify or attribute any attention to them by name.

      That’s crap. He sure doesn’t mind calling out Muslims and other groups by name. He got caught playing the ends against the middle. I expect so little from him yet he continues to disgust me with his inane, despicable behavior.

      1. Yes, I did. There are simply too many posting opportunities with this man (-; I also noted that he was silent when Elon Musk and Robert Eiger announced their resignations following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords. Coincidence? These men are not the first to resign from Trump advisory councils, and I expect there will be more.

        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-virginia-protests-merck-idUSKCN1AU1FM

        Hope you can find time to see The Inconvenient Sequel, Fly. It was very well done.

  4. Take a moment to breathe and clear your thoughts. Count upwards to five and then downwards back to zero. Another breath, and then follow me with this thought experiment.

    Take yourself back to this day, 2016. Trump is now the official GOP candidate. People on this website are writing what would happen if. Op-Eds spread all over the Internet write ‘what-if’ mock headlines to describe what they believe a Trump administration would be like.

    Think again to what you said you expected back then. What you thought or even feared might happen. Think about what other people were saying might happen. Think about the worst that might happen.

    And now read today’s NYTimes weekend briefing:

    —————————————————

    Your Weekend Briefing

    Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.

    1. The United States faced new levels of crisis both domestically and internationally.

    Brinkmanship between President Trump and North Korea raised alarms about the threat of nuclear warfare, prompting foreign leaders to urge both sides to dial back the apocalyptic language.

    On Friday, Mr. Trump, who is at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for a working vacation, said the United States military was “locked and loaded” should the North act “unwisely.”

    Earlier, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, threatened to create “an enveloping strike” around Guam, an American territory in the Western Pacific. Above, an intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea.
    Here’s a look at where North Korea could reach with its missiles, but The Times’s Interpreter columnists say there are five reasons to believe the threat is overstated.

    2. And the bitter ideological divisions splitting the United States exploded into violence on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists had gathered to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue memorializing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
    An Ohio man was charged with murder after a car was driven into a crowd of counterdemonstrators, killing at least one person and injuring at least 19 others. About 35 were injured over all in Saturday’s violence.

    Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s governor, declared a state of emergency.

    Adding to the turmoil, a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed southwest of Charlottesville, killing two troopers. The cause was not known, but the authorities said the helicopter had been monitoring the protests.

    Many of the demonstrators wore helmets and carried shields, waved Confederate flags and chanted neo-Nazi slogans.

    In comments from New Jersey, President Trump condemned the bloodshed in what critics in both parties saw as muted, equivocal terms, blaming “many sides.”
    ____

    3. In Washington, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election marches on. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, above, is said to be in talks about interviewing current and former senior White House officials.

    As part of the investigation, the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at the home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman — a sign that the inquiry has broadened.

    The U.S.-Russia relationship took a baffling turn when Mr. Trump thanked President Vladimir Putin for ordering the United States Embassy to slash personnel, a move made in retaliation for sanctions imposed because of Russia’s election meddling.

    “I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Mr. Trump said.
    ____

    4. President Trump has, however, amplified his public criticism of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, for failing to pass a health care repeal bill.
    The rift with Mr. McConnell underscores the growing distance and distrust between Mr. Trump and his supposed allies in Washington. But it’s Mr. McConnell whom the president may need most as Republicans turn their attention to a complex set of obstacles — like keeping the government open.

    On the other side of the aisle, a bitter leadership fight in California has emerged as a cautionary tale for Democrats debating how to rebuild and seize back power.
    ____

    5. Tensions between the United States and North Korea prompted a global sell-off of stocks on Friday and motivated investors to seek havens for their money.

    What has long been considered an indomitable haven — the American dollar — may no longer be a sure thing. Since the beginning of the year, the dollar has surrendered nearly 8 percent against major currencies.

    And West Virginia hopes to buoy its economy by making high school more like the workplace. Educators say they want more help from Washington to implement one of President Trump’s promises: reviving vocational education.
    ____

    6. Looking toward the environment, critics of Scott Pruitt, who heads the E.P.A., say he is deploying extraordinary secrecy as he rolls back regulations, closes offices and eliminates staff in his push to dismantle the agency’s environmental mission.

    And the impending release of a congressionally mandated report on climate change could force President Trump to choose between science and members of his base, many of whom don’t think humans play a role in a warming planet.

    Some scientists involved in the report fear that the administration could change or suppress their findings.
    ____

    7. President Trump said he was preparing to declare the worsening opioid epidemic a national emergency. But his top health care official, Tom Price, played down the likelihood of an official declaration.

    ____

    8. The secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, is reviewing 27 national monument designations. Some designations by previous administrations may be scaled back or eliminated, the first time such a move would be made.

    The five to watch include two in Utah, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante, above, one in New Mexico, one in Maine and one in Hawaii.
    ____

    9. Silicon Valley is under a microscope after Google fired a software engineer, James Damore, who wrote a memo claiming that the gender gap in the tech industry was in part a result of biological differences, not discrimination.

    Readers from both sides responded to our coverage in droves. “With his firing, this opportunity to open his eyes is lost,” one woman said.

    For the alt-right, Google’s response to the memo was low-hanging fruit for mockery.

    Mr. Damore addressed his firing in an essay for The Wall Street Journal.

    ————————————————————–

    Looks like the only thing we got wrong about Trump in 2016 was the presumption that it wouldn’t happen. Other than that today’s NYTimes briefing reads EXACTLY like a mock future ‘what-if’ op-ed written in August 2016.

  5. Well, things certainly got worse today. I hope this is the final nail in Trump’s coffin.

    I’m reading comments on my local news comments sections and the excuses and mental gymnastics being employed by the inbred, redneck Nazi crowd is unbelievable. Everything from George Soros paid the guy to plow into the crowd to those antifa/BLM people had it coming and how dare those people fling themselves into the path of a car just trying to get away. Trumptards are so fucking (pardon my language) stupid I don’t know how they find the toilet.

    Trump’s little answer to this was tepid and gave a wink out to the Klan as he blamed “many sides” for this debacle providing whack off material to the deplorables. I have to wonder if our dear departed former comic character who left in a huff is furiously masturbating over this situation.

    1. Pretty much the same thing we’re doing, as the rightward March against progress is a pan-Western phenomenon:

      1) speak out against fascists or their apologists where you find them. Define nationality as a system of law, not a fundament of race or ethnicity.

      2) speak out for victims of fascism, wherever they are hurt by fascists. Write letters to them committing your support, donate to attacked groups’ relief funds, donate to advocacy and relief groups in general.

      3) Write letters or call your elected representatives asking if they have made a public declaration against the Charlottesville fascists and similar groups in your own country. If they haven’t, demand it and state that their failure to do so will affect your consideration for their re-election (more meaningful the more directly you elect them).

      4) figure out what your local fascist groups and political organizations are called. Find out if they have been in the news for any crimes / violence committed. Send those articles to your local and national police and security forces urging them to declare these groups terrorist organizations.

      5) write letters to the editor about the groups comparing them to the Charlottesville charlatans and calling them terrorist groups.

      6) encourage like-minded friends to do similar. Get together a group of half a dozen people committed to being engaged. Meet up at least once monthly to come up with action items for resisting fascist groups in non-violent, rule-of-law adherent ways.

      And just generally, non-US Western countries are going to have to step up their defense of liberal democracies and International order even more, because the world is never going to go back to a time when the US had never elected a candidate who ran on an explicitly illiberal campaign. Sorry, American exceptionalism was vetoed.

      1. Aaron, I applaud your ideas. However, I fear that the concept of non-violent, rule-of-law methods will not work for two reasons:

        1. The terrorists are not playing the non-violent game, and will most certainly escalate their violence in the coming months. This is not post-war India with Ghandi, or the 60’s with MLK. The terrorists are way too well-armed and emboldened for the past points in history to be replayed again.

        2. It is clear that not only are bannon and miller nazi’s, trump’s lack of condemnation proves he is a nazi as well. So when the terrorists have the backing of the white house, a spineless House and Senate, plus sessions as the AG, the “rule-of-law” will be used only against those that fight the terrorists.

        The u.s. is entering a time that may actually see the last vestige of democracy be wiped away. Apparently, 52% of republicans would be happy to “delay” the 2020 election. What happens to that number if the puppet tyrant gets into a shooting war, or when the domestic terrorism increases in breadth and ferocity (as it surely will)?

        While your ideas are most certainly a necessary step, anyone who truly wants to see democracy survive will also have to prepare to reciprocate the rising tide of violence.

        And yes, I fully realize the irony of that last statement, which is the same concept that the terrorists use as justification for what they do.

      2. Hi Dinsdale. Thanks for your response. I am going to try to take on each of your points in turn.

        “1. The terrorists are not playing the non-violent game, and will most certainly escalate their violence in the coming months.”

        The rule-of-law aspect of my argument seeks the detainment and public court trial of these terrorists. In order to clearly delineate why they are the attackers and not defenders, they should be the only ones visibly attacking.

        “This is not post-war India with Ghandi, or the 60’s with MLK.”

        You’re right, this is not post-war India or the 60s — we’re actually better off, with fully more of our citizenship invested in civil rights and justice, and white supremacy largely regarded as atavistic fringe rather than good ol’ boy behavior. Ghandi was standing up against an empire with an entire army, MLK was standing up against people whose grandfathers had been slave owners.

        “The terrorists are way too well-armed and emboldened for the past points in history to be replayed again.”

        The uptick of violence in the past year still doesn’t nearly meet our historic norms. We still, technically, statistically have higher leverage than them. The main thing is to maintain pressure on that leverage.

        The reason WHY 60s activism worked is because regular people were willing to put themselves in front of guns — guns from rightwing counter-activists, and guns from police and military forces, and sometimes those were the same guns.

        “2. It is clear that not only are bannon and miller nazi’s, trump’s lack of condemnation proves he is a nazi as well.”

        Bannon is already getting sick of Trump. Trump is reportedly getting sick of Bannon.

        I don’t disagree that these people are fascists, whose leadership is the weight pushing our society toward illiberal, anti-democratic ends, but that’s exactly why we’re fighting — to prevent them from doing that. In the meantime, acknowledging that their egos are too big and too fragile to keep them consistent is a useful way of refuting their leadership and focusing on the ground game.

        “So when the terrorists have the backing of the white house,”

        So keep up the pressure to have the administration speak out against the terrorists directly, and when they don’t, make the administration’s lack of speaking the news, so that the meme is always loud and clear that civic society does not settle with terrorism,

        “a spineless House and Senate,”

        same, but for the record, even Paul Ryan has called out ‘violence from bigotry’ in much more clear and direct terms than 45’s fussy dog whistle. This goes direct to my point about contacting your specific, directly elected officials and demanding that they take a stance — right now, today, when this has just happened, so that they take a side in history and the public sphere is clear about who the badguys are.

        “plus sessions as the AG, the “rule-of-law” will be used only against those that fight the terrorists.”

        This is what civil suits are for. Again, Sessions comes from a time when the courts were much more weighted toward KKK apologetics than today. The type of leaking that’s coming out of the administration including the Department of Justice shows that not every civil servant is on board this train. While the administration slowly, inevitably ‘drains the swamp’ of people with morals, there’s still time to fight, including on lower courts.

        Are you a member of the ACLU or similar groups yet? Because if you aren’t, you have no reason to blame the lack of law and order on this matter entirely on Sessions. It’s also your fault for not supporting groups that exist specifically to litigate this type of stuff.

        There will be more information about what to do in the case that rule of law breaks down, such that people like James Alex Fields are let go without trial. We’ll have to get to that point before I have a clearer understanding of action items with which to respond. At this point it’s far enough away that such ‘what-ifs’ require too many variables and it becomes science fiction writing.

        “The US is entering a time that may actually see the last vestige of democracy be wiped away.”

        Exactly why I’m advocating and currently working against it. I’ve seen direct results from my activism. Things are discouraging but I promise you, being involved and actually working on shit helps you feel like you have more control of the world, and it also helps you find a community of like-minded people you can rely on when things go bad. Group up, get out to the streets, and make yourself visible. Democracy will survive until the last person fighting for it is dead, and so far there are literally hundreds of millions of people in this country alone that are fighting for it. Keep it visible and keep it loud.

        “Apparently, 52% of republicans would be happy to “delay” the 2020 election.”

        At the same time, ‘moderate’ and ‘liberal’ white flight is occurring in the Republican party. It’s likely that these expanded negative factors are because the Republican party simply doesn’t have as many people as before.

        It’s like how cancer rates skyrocketed as infant mortality rates dove. It’s because more people lived long enough to get cancer.

        “What happens to that number if the puppet tyrant gets into a shooting war, or when the domestic terrorism increases in breadth and ferocity (as it surely will)?”

        What happens depends entirely on how visible and vocal you are to the 48% of Republicans who don’t think elections should be pushed off. Appeal to them and to ‘independents’ and ‘moderates’ for help against, specifically, people like James Alex Fields. Ask them what they think we should do to reduce violent attacks on American citizens by American citizens. And then ask them to consider James Alex Fields the terrorist that he is.

        “While your ideas are most certainly a necessary step, anyone who truly wants to see democracy survive will also have to prepare to reciprocate the rising tide of violence.”

        I just want to state for the record, I’m a 2nd Amendment sort of guy who believes in being able to protect your family and your wellbeing against attackers.

        But reciprocation doesn’t require violence. As stated above, there are other ways. AND, statistically speaking, violent reciprocation is more likely to hurt yourself than it is to hurt your opponent. That’s not just legally, it’s the result of creating violence.

        I don’t just talk out of my ass, I worked in security and protection of assets training including raid and counter-ambush. I worked on the production of training materials which included being involved in the field training examples. All of the literature regarding protecting yourself from violence emphasize separation, de-escalation, and situational awareness far before the guns go off. When the guns go off, all of the literature emphasizes cover, distance, and armor far before counter-fire, advancement, and even technical training like aim. In all cases survival depends more on being calm and keeping yourself under control far more than lashing out and attacking back. Even under fire.

        This specific technical area is also really useful when considering ‘engagement’ socially, politically, and civicly. Being the adult in the room, being non-threatening, being direct and clear, and being able to back off renders you far more appreciation and support than threats of violence and fire-with-fire posturing. As I work to delegimitize the fascists, I would be careful to have someone like you around who could muck up my message with direct expressions of violence.

        “And yes, I fully realize the irony of that last statement, which is the same concept that the terrorists use as justification for what they do.”

        The useful thing about having a due process is that if you run a car into a crowd of protestors, killing one and maiming 19 others, you go to court for the action that you have taken. At face value, hurting people is bad and you will be punished.

        Only afterward does ‘justification’ matter. If you did it as an accident or because you were inebriated, it could be manslaughter. But if you have a reason to do it based off your political opinion, then it’s murder and terrorism.

        If you advocate for violence, any damage that you do to people or property will be tried in context to that advocacy. And that’s precisely why we have to defend the rule of law. So that James Alex Fields is tried for murder rather than manslaughter.

      3. I agree with you but do want to point out some problem areas. Too many hate crimes go unpunished. The judicial process doesn’t “work” fairly or effectively enough to punish or prevent acts of violence such as we’ve witnessed in the last few years. Sure, members of the KKK may not be lynching blacks anymore but deaths and other indignities continue – too often, unpunished. We read daily about those who are leading critical government agencies who are actively working to destroy them and the protections painstakingly built for decades for the American public.

        The statement that hundreds of millions of Americans are fighting for Democracy – begs the question, whose, and what kind of Democracy? When freedm of speech affords a permitted opportunity to incite violence, that is wrong. We are watching our laws, policies, reputation, courts, legislatures and federal government being subverted and it is discouraging.

        Yet, I have chosen to stand up, speak out, resist, write, call, donate, and work within a democratic process. To do what I can as one person and in cooperation with others who share my concerns. I want my grandson who is going off to college to be safe – to stay away from situations like Charlottesville, while encouraging him to believe in the importance and value of his right to self-expression and belief in our democracy. My hope is that your positive outlook is shared by more Americans than those who are engendering hate. We cannot give up nor should we resort to the tyranny of those who seek to control through hate.

      4. Aaron, in your reply you make many excellent points, and are far better writer than I, so I won’t even try to discuss them on a point by point basis.

        I concede that my views on the use of violence against violence are most definitely dangerous and likely counter-productive, with a high risk of leading to anarchy.

        What it comes to down to, for me at least, is this: If all levels of gov’t, and all levels of law enforcement, acts to address the terrorism properly, using all the power that the people have vested them with, then yes, this problem can be addressed within the existing legal structure. The general citizenry will not have to react with any physical force. Given the responses I have seen in the last 24 hours at so many levels from all aspects of the political spectrum, I have more hope than I did when I first responded.

        There is already talk by the terrorists of a larger “rally” in the future. If that gathering does truly occur (which I think it will), that will be the litmus test. If law enforcement, particularly on the federal level, moves to severely limit the terrorists’ capacity for mayhem, then I am confident that this point in history will be remembered as another time when the peoples’ will once again prevailed against the will of the white house.

        However, there is another outcome of that litmus test. If, at the next gathering, we see local and state police stand by and mostly act as bystanders, and we see more comments like Pence this morning going after the media while stating “sure, of course we hate nazi’s”, and the puppet tyrant’s silence continues, then the alarm bells go off again. If the law enforcement groups that have been authorized by the people to protect them against evil refuse to act, then the people must seek their own methods, and yes, the most extreme of those methods include violence.

        This is indeed a scary time, given the rise of authoritarian regimes (Hungary, Poland, Philippines, Venezuela added to the list of usual suspects). Clearly, the U.S. is tracking that way also. Aaron, you are absolutely correct in your methodology to certainly try first to stop this trend. But I think we have to prepare for other methods if yours don’t work.

  6. Sitting in a central Florida airport Friday, my wife overheard ” you’re guy Trump is a beer short of a six pack”. If anyone responded, it was not loud enough to be overheard. I thought this is using language they can understand in the land of Trumpladites.

    Remember, “the King has no clothes” had to be repeated before it was accepted. There is no sin in calling someone a fool if they are behaving like one. The sin lies in remaining silent.

  7. I have been loud for most of my life. Regularly interact with family, friends and church brethren who supported Trump and his agenda. I am known for being intelligent, trust worthy and moral. My opinion has weight. As more stuff comes out I think more and more people can be won over. Most Trump supporters are not the radical nut wing right. Or deep south bigot Dixiecrat. We can win them over if we stay engaged. This is like wooing a lover. It takes a gentle hand. Most I know are economically insecure or afraid their culture is being overwhelmed. Put for the true hard core we need to be relentless hard.

  8. “Want to beat Donald Trump? Become as unbearable to be around as the idiots who support him have been for decades. Don’t be quiet.”

    Amen.

    “Friends” ? and family? Neighbors? Church friends? Grandchildren? If you haven’t made a stand already, now is the time – just as Chris stated. Vote with your pocketbook? Watch what the market is telling you. Make people around you get outside their comfort zone – heck, each of us who has the benefit of understanding the gravity of this situation must get outside “our” comfort zone.

    I couldn’t agree more, Chris. Will it be enough? Do we have any other choice.

  9. I agree with all you said.

    Just curious, did you wait to release this until after last night and today’s events in Virginia, or was it just (and forgive me) “luck”.
    When you have nazi’s inside the white house like bannon and miller, and with someone like sessions as the AG, this is indeed going to get a lost worse.

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