Trump Washes His Hands Of Everything

“It’s Been Going On For A Long Time In Our Country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s Been Going On For A Long, Long Time.”

So it’s history’s fault?

Guess if you count Trump’s history of encouraging violence at his rallies, of refusing to denounce White Supremacist supporters during his campaign, of banning people based on their religious beliefs, of judging people based on their ethnicity…

That part of Trump’s statement on Charlottesville got a lot less attention than the part where he refused to single out White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis by name. While not as immediately fury provoking, in our opinion it reveals even more about our President. Trump’s entire statement, right here:

Trump’s early Tweets this morning indicate he’s putting Charlottesville behind him (because after all, he wasn’t responsible). Focusing on more familiar subjects: trade, military, “Obstructionist Democrats“, the “wall.” He also took time to endorse a Senator, Luther Strange, who is in a heated battle to hold the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Interesting, because Strange is also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pick, and Trump’s been blaming McConnell for everything that’s gone bad for him in Washington recently, even going so far this weekend as Retweeting “Fox and Friends” suggesting McConnell might step down.

The President’s put the blame squarely on McConnell for failing to kill Obamacare, while failing to mention that Trump did very little to move the legislation along, and in fact never really said what he wanted to see in it. In January, Trump said a White House health care proposal was “very much formulated down to the final strokes.” We’re still waiting for it!

Perhaps Trump viewed his willingness to sign absolutely anything passed by Senate Republicans as giving him the most possible chances for a “win”. For him. But it didn’t quite work out that way, and as he said he’s “not going to own it.”

It’s clear he’s not going to “own” Charlottesville, either.

This pattern of deflection is reflected in a new pro-Trump TV ad too, that strangely surfaced yesterday. In it, an announcer talks of Trump’s accomplishments, and blames “mainstream media” and “career politicians” for preventing him from accomplishing his agenda by jumping on anything he says. (Please also note where white folks and people of color appear in this ad.)The reason we bring this to your attention is a lot of Far-right coverage this weekend focused on exhorting people to focus on the “unfair” response and reaction the President gets to anything he says. (Presumably because what he said was so indefensible?) All he needs is a chance!

Senator Hatch: “We Should Call Evil By Its Name”

We continue to be shocked and saddened by the violence at the White Supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended with a Neo Nazi running over a bunch of protestors, killing one: a local paralegal named Heather Heyer. She was out there doing more-or-less what many of us would’ve done if this was happening in our town.

This was not some small-time event where a small group of wacky participants would’ve been better off left alone to do their thing and leave. It was a near-referendum, by well organized, politically connected groups, designed to show how accepting this country has become of White Supremacists and Neo Nazis. They planned to show their hatred without embarrassment or fear of retribution. It didn’t quite work out that way. (It won’t be their last.)

Except for the President, who refused to single them out: by now infamously condemning the hatred and violence “on many sides, on many sides.” Saying it 2X so that there would be no mistake; no possibility he simply misspoke.

The White House later issued a “clarification” saying “of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K. neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” But that doesn’t make it any better; just saying those groups fall within the spectrum of which the President spoke wasn’t the point. It was a question of condemning Nazis. By name. Period. Easy. Hell, if you can’t do that how about at least saying “hey folks, please stop chanting my name and wearing my hats because you’re not what I stand for…”?

There was no finer rebuke than that of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch:

Something else that hit home too: an online advocate, using the Twitter handle @yesyoureracist who successfully “outed” a whole bunch of people in the Neo Nazi groups.

The Most Encouraging Thing We Heard All Weekend

A friend of ours in Florida reported “my neighbor has removed the Trump stickers from his cars.”

(Not an actual photo of him doing it)

First It Was “Fire And Fury”. Then Came “Locked And Loaded”. How Do You Escalate From There?

The President kept uncharacteristically quiet about North Korea. Meanwhile, many small but significant developments:

• The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met South Korea’s President and top military leaders today in Seoul. General Joseph Dunford assured them the U.S. priority is diplomacy. Meantime, North Korea issued a statement warning armed conflict could be sparked by “a minor incident”, and followed: “The problem is that if war occurs, it can only be turned into a nuclear war.”

• South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reporting today that North Korea has recalled its ambassadors from China, Russia, and the U.N. for a group meeting.

• China says tomorrow’s the day it will begin implementing strict new economic sanctions on North Korea. Those sanctions were adopted by the U.N. Security Council about a week ago.

• The AP reported the U.S. and North Korea are communicating through a back-channel at the U.N. that has existed for years.

And with so many possible outcomes, here are some things to consider:

• The key to the latest round of economic embargoes is oil. It could mean before long North Korea will have trouble flying military jets or running electricity grids. That is, if its two biggest oil suppliers: China and Russia, don’t cheat.

• Perhaps a little more insight into why China ultimately supported stronger sanctions after stubbornly opposing them for so long: it sees an opportunity. That became clear after China brilliantly told North Korea it would remain neutral if it initiated an attack, but would fight on its side in the event of a U.S. attack. Put more simply: it’s positioning itself as the “adult” at the table.

• Trump will move ahead with plans to crack down on China for unfair trade practices, but only a wee bit. Today he is expected to sign an executive order authorizing the USTR to determine whether to investigate intellectual property theft from U.S. technology companies. Of course, the normally eager Trump could just go ahead an order an investigation right now, but appears he’s not.

• We’ve been wondering about a far-fetched scenario where China might grow tired of the headaches Kim Jong-un is causing. And without much ideological reason to support North Korea anymore, might prefer an expanded relationship with a unified Korea (that would still honor its mining agreements in the North.) Especially since Trump says he wants to end the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea, leaving China free to fill that void. Bloomberg explores that same idea. The reason we say it’s far-fetched is there probably still is some value to China of having a buffer zone between its border and the 23,000 U.S. military personnel currently on the Korean peninsula.

• Finally, this isn’t brand new, but we came across a really good profile of Kim Jong-un, his history and his agenda. It also introduces us to 22-year old Kim Han Sol, his nephew, who has been in hiding since his father was murdered in an airport in Malaysia in February.