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Aug. 16 2017 6:54 PM

Today in Conservative Media: The Confederate Monument Debate Is About Ideology, Not Slavery

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Conservatives continued to debate the Charlottesville protests and the ethics of defending Confederate monuments on Wednesday. In an emotional segment on Fox & Friends, both Republican analyst Gianno Caldwell and Democratic political analyst Wendy Osefo tearfully condemned President Trump’s Tuesday remarks, in which he stated that “fine people” were among those who demonstrated to defend Charlottesville’s monument to Robert E. Lee.

Caldwell: Last night I couldn’t sleep at all because President Trump, our president has literally betrayed the conscience of our country. The very moral fabric in which we’ve made progress when it comes to race relations in America--he’s failed us. And it’s very unfortunate that our president would say things like he did in that press conference yesterday. When he says, ‘Well, you know, there are good people on the side of the Nazis. They weren’t all Nazis. They weren’t all white supremacists.’ Mr. President—good people don’t pal around with Nazis and white supremacists.  This has become very troubling. And for anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump did and said at that press conference yesterday—it’s completely lost and the potential to be morally bankrupt.

At the Daily Wire, Aaron Bandler wrote about a potential effort to remove the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, Georgia.:

Clearly, there is a lot of evil, ugly racism associated with the Stone Mountain monument.

And yet, [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay] Bookman argues that it should not be taken down.
"It is easier and simpler and more emotionally gratifying to say it should just be removed, but removal would itself be a form of whitewashing of our history every bit as deceptive as the carving itself," wrote Bookman. "While the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP is right to condemn the carving itself as 'a glorification of white supremacy,' that glorification happened."
In other words, the monument serves as an ugly reminder of the evil racism that took place in the state and in the country and as a teaching opportunity to ensure that the state and the country doesn't fall back into that evil time period.

On his show, Rush Limbaugh had an exchange with a caller who argued he had given insufficient attention to the morality of slavery in his coverage of  Confederate monument controversies:

Kathy: We have this heritage of people being treated very, very poorly and horribly and killed in some cases and lynched in some cases, and I just think that when we talk about these issues that verge on slavery, I hope that we will be a little more direct in being honest about what it was really all about. That was a long sentence.
Limbaugh: Well, do you know that the Native Americans were slaveholders? Did you know that Christopher Columbus, the ostensible discoverer of America —
Kathy: Yeah.
Limbaugh: — it was the order… The United States was not in any way unique in this. In fact, what makes the United States unique is that we are the first serious major country, population that ended it. We went to war to end it, and 500,000 citizens of this country died in that effort. Nobody here denies slavery. Nobody’s denying it at all. But there’s a missing sense of proportion about this — and I have to disagree with you on one thing, Kathy. This is ideological. Every bit of this is ideological. It is left versus right, centrist versus whatever. It is. And the fact that a lot of people don’t see that is, I think, what permits much of this to happen.

At National Review, Ian Tuttle took aim at President Trump’s reference to an “alt-left” that had stirred up trouble in Charlottesville. “By ‘alt-left,’ Trump and others seem to be referring primarily to Antifa, the black-clad ‘anti-fascists’ who rioted on Inauguration Day in D.C., at Berkeley shortly after (to forestall an appearance by alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos), and have made appearances elsewhere (most recently in Seattle),” he wrote. “But Antifa has never cast itself as a political alternative to the Democratic party as currently constituted, and it has no positive agenda (‘anti-fascism’). No one is running on the Antifa platform.”

In other news:

Multiple outlets reported the FBI’s reopening of a Freedom of Information Act request from Trump attorney Jay Sekulow about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton last year. From the Washington Free Beacon:

The letter reopening the FOIA dated Aug. 10 came after Sekulow pointed out in an appearance on Fox and on the ACLJ's website that it had recently received documents from the Department of Justice (DOJ) showing that FBI emails and other agency documents exist about the tarmac meeting.
Critics of Comey's handling of the agency's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email abuses point to the tarmac meeting as a turning point in the probe. After the late June meeting created a media firestorm questioning whether Lynch could remain impartial in the probe, Lynch announced that she would accept Comey's determination on whether or not to indict Clinton based on the FBI's email findings.

Sekulow described the turnaround on Fox & Friends:

Sekulow: The biggest issue is not so much what we’ve gotten so far—which is significant. It shows communication to the Department of Justice and the FBI, the Department of Justice and the White House were all involved with this Clinton-Lynch meeting ... but there was a three page email produced, which they redacted completely—that means three blank pages—that were the “talking points” and they refused to release those.

Aug. 16 2017 5:34 PM

Today's Impeach-O-Meter: Does Anyone Care What CEOs Do?

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

So many CEOs resigned or were ready to resign from Donald Trump's two corporate advisory councils today that one of the councils self-disbanded just before Trump announced, in a face-saving move which did not save face, that he had totally decided to dissolve them both, you can't fire me because I quit, etc.

This raises the question: Who cares?

On the one hand: A Republican president that Fortune 500 CEOs and Wall Street executives don't want to be seen with even as he's preparing to cut taxes is a politically toxic president indeed. Politicians also don't generally love headlines along the lines of Everyone Is Abandoning [Name of Politician] Because He's Objectively Pro-KKK.

On the other hand, to quote my colleague Jim Newell, "It doesn't hurt Trump's support to have corporations trash him. It happened daily for two years, and then he won the presidency. This is all a public show, and the Republican government and these corporations are still very much on the same team."

Both sides of this argument have some merit, as our president likes to say about arguments between Nazis and non-Nazis, but, in the end, as always, I believe that Jim is wrong. Corporations will look for any excuse not to take a position on a controversy; that the freakin' CEO of Walmart has openly dumped the white-working-class hero Republican president is a pretty strong indiciator, in my expert opinion, that Trump has really screwed up even by his own low standards. These CEOs, I believe, would absolutely, no doubt kill a drifter to get President Pence in office right now if that's what it took.

That said, I'm not going to actually raise the meter until we see a Charlottesville-related drop in the polls. You never know—it could be Jim's lucky day!

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Aug. 16 2017 1:48 PM

CEOs Disband Advisory Council in Mass Rejection of Trump’s Remarks

CNBC is reporting that the members of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum—a group that included representatives from GM, Walmart, Pepsi, Boeing, and a number of top financial firms—have decided to dissolve their group in the wake of Donald Trump's remarks defending the white supremacist rally/riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. From CNBC:

"The thinking was it was important to do as a group," a member told CNBC. "As a panel, not as individuals because it would have more significant impact. It makes a central point that it's not going to go forward. It's done." ... The business leaders chose to dissolve the council in order to "condemn" the president's comments about the Charlottesville violence, the same member said. The member described Trump's defiant press conference on Tuesday as a "tripwire."

In a transparent attempt to save face, Trump announced after CNBC reported the news that he would be dissolving both the Strategic and Policy Forum and the American Manufacturing Council, a similar group that was also hemorrhaging members:

Here's what he said on the subject Tuesday, though:

The Strategic and Policy Forum did subsequently issue an evenly worded statement, which presented the decision as one made in tandem with Trump:

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Sure, guys. Sure!

Aug. 16 2017 12:17 PM

A Guide to the Companies That Haven’t Quit Trump’s Advisory Councils. (Update: Everyone Is Quitting.)

Update, 1:03 p.m.: CNBC says the Strategic and Policy Forum is disbanding completely—a remarkable mass vote of no-confidence in a Republican president by executives from Goldman Sachs, GM, JPMorgan, Walmart, Boeing, and other corporate American heavy hitters. Campbell's Soup, meanwhile, has quit the Manufacturing Council.

Update, 12:50 p.m.: The New York Times is reporting that the members of Trump's other CEO council—the Strategic and Policy Forum, whose most prominent consumer-facing members are Walmart, GM, IBM, and Pepsi—might disband their group completely

Original post, 12:17 p.m.: Donald Trump has a thing called the President's American Manufacturing Council that mainly seems to involve bringing CEOs to the White House for photo ops during which everyone congratulates each other for being a Job Creator. Some of these CEOs, though, have recently realized they don't necessarily want their companies, whose employees and customers probably aren't all white assholes, affiliated with a president who is underlining his long personal history of racism by literally praising a rally during which white protesters carried torches and shouted Nazi slogans. Four corporations and two organizations have quit the council:

  • Merck (whose CEO, Kenneth Frazier, is black)
  • Under Armour
  • Intel
  • 3M
  • The AFL-CIO
  • The Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • Dow Chemical
  • Harris Corporation (which specializes in space- and defense-related technology)
  • Dell
  • Nucor Corporation (a steel company)
  • Whirlpool
  • Johnson & Johnson (which released a truly remarkable statement Tuesday, which self-seriously discussed the sacred importance of "standing up for our belief[s]" and "speaking out" but didn't criticize Trump or announce a resignation from the council)
  • United Technologies (aerospace)
  • Lockheed Martin (defense)
  • GE
  • Dana Inc. (an automotive technology manufacturer that is actually based in Maumee, Ohio, the hometown of James Fields Jr., the white supremacist who is believed to have run over and killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia)
  • The Timken Company (auto parts)
  • Campbell's Soup (which is taking a disproportionate amount of heat online for remaining on the council, mainly because it's funny/surreal that a soup company is effectively condoning white supremacists)
  • Boeing
  • Caterpillar
  • Newell Brands (which markets a variety of consumer products)
  • International Paper
  • Corning (glass and other materials-technology-type-stuff)

If you're itching for a boycott, here are some of the things those companies sell:

  • Dell computers
  • Whirlpool hot tubs
  • GE lightbulbs, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and other appliances
  • Band-Aids, Tylenol, Benadryl, Listerine, Johnson's baby shampoo, Aveeno products, Neutragena products (all sold by Johnson & Johnson)
  • Newell Brands products such as Rubbermaid containers, Sharpies, Elmer's Glue, Graco strollers and car seats, Mr. Coffee coffeemakers, Oster blenders, and more
  • Napalm (just kidding, Dow Chemical stopped making napalm in 1969)
  • Lockheed Martin tanks, helicopters, etc.
  • Campbell's Soup ... soups

In summary, for Americans who don't love Hitler, it may be time to switch to Progresso even though their tomato soup isn't as good.

Aug. 16 2017 11:43 AM

Dealing With Trump’s Latest Outrages Is Getting Increasingly Awkward for World Leaders

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When asked about President Trump’s equivocating response to the racist rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that there is “no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them” and that “it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them."

Opposition lawmakers want her to go further and have renewed calls for May to withdraw the invitation she issued to Trump in January to make a state visit to Britain later this year. (Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson bafflingly defended that invitation at the time by pointing out that Robert Mugabe had also once made a state visit.)

Trump presents a no-win situation for May. Her government still hopes to forge a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, so she can’t exactly afford to completely alienate a president who seems to set trade policy based on personal animus. On the other hand, Trump is deeply disliked by the British public and every new outrage provides May’s opponents with easy ammunition to use against her at a time when her political position is precarious, to say the least. If and when it ever happens, the state visit is going to be deeply uncomfortable.

May’s not the only leader struggling with how to approach Trump. France’s Emmanuel Macron came to power vowing to stand up to the U.S. president and strongly criticized his stance on climate change, but then turned on the charm during a pomp-filled Bastille Day visit last month. Macron’s embrace of the deeply unpopular Trump is not the main reason for the French president’s plummeting popularity, but it certainly didn’t help. Macron, who has gone further than most French leaders in acknowledging France’s historical sins during the Holocaust and War in Algeria, hasn’t yet commented on Charlottesville.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau seems to have settled on a strategy of embracing Trump personally while making statements that implicitly distance himself from the president’s policies. Just as he tweeted that Canada was open to refugees and that “diversity is our strength” following Trump’s travel ban, he has responded to Charlottesville with a statement condemning “violence and hate.”

Ironically, this strategy has done more for Trudeau’s popularity in the United States, where he’s acquired folk hero status as a handsome charismatic anti-Trump, than in Canada, where views are more mixed.

Germany’s Angela Merkel has been distancing herself from Trump, who has repeatedly attacked her on refugee policy and other issues, since Day 1 of her presidency, and seems to have more or less given up on the prospect of a productive relationship with his administration. A spokesman for the chancellor, who is likely to win reelection next month, condemned the “right-wing extremist march” in Charlottesville as “repulsive,” “evil,” and “disgusting.”

One less direct but in some ways more interesting response to this week’s events came from the foreign ministry of China, which was responding to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom and a statement by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemning Beijing's treatment of religious minorities. Spokesperson Hua Chunying advised the U.S. government to look after its own problems and noted, without elaborating, that "everyone has seen that the facts prove the United States is not totally perfect."

Aug. 16 2017 10:56 AM

Confederate Monuments Taken Down in Baltimore in the Middle of the Night

Four monuments tied to the Confederacy and American slavery were taken down in Baltimore very early  Wednesday morning after the City Council voted for their immediate removal on Monday. From CNN:

By early Wednesday, video posted on social media showed cranes slowly lowering some of the monuments from their perches. Mayor Catherine Pugh told WBAL that some of the monuments will be sent to Confederate cemeteries.
The removals come as cities and states are considering taking down Confederate monuments following the clashes at Saturday's rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one anti-racism protester dead.

According to Baltimore's WBAL, the four monuments removed were a statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the majority opinion in Dred Scott; a monument to Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; a monument to Confederate soldiers and sailors; and a Confederate women’s monument.

The New York Times reports that small crowds were present to celebrate the removals and that Black Lives Matter was spray painted on the pedestal of the Lee-Jackson monument.

Baltimore-based writer Alec MacGillis documented the overnight removals:

Aug. 16 2017 3:40 AM

Is There a Way to Prevent the Next Charlottesville?

With more white nationalist rallies planned in the coming weeks, including one this upcoming Saturday in Boston, cities across the country may soon be looking for ways to try to prevent the sort of violence that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh is reportedly looking into legal grounds to stop the next alt-right rally from happening in his city. Those rallygoers are permitted, though, and have a First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.

Peaceably is the key word there, however. The white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville were reportedly armed to the teeth. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe claimed his state police were outgunned on Saturday, while one white nationalist leader showed off his firepower in a popular Vice News documentary about the weekend’s events. Another rallygoer in that video—clad in camouflage—seemed to be warning police that he planned to “send at least 200 people with guns” to gather equipment that was at the site of the rally. Heavily armed paramilitary groups barely distinguishable in appearance from law enforcement officials, meanwhile, made their own show of force in Charlottesville, saying they were there to keep the peace between white nationalist rallygoers and counter-protesters.

As my Slate colleagues Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern reported on Monday, those trying to exercise First Amendment rights clashed with those claiming to exercise Second Amendment rights—including Virginia’s open-carry laws—in Charlottesville, and the guns won. Current constitutional doctrine, they argued, is poorly equipped to handle a situation where one heavily armed group of assemblers is able to silence with their weaponry the free speech rights of a different group of would-be assemblers.

But University of Virginia professor Philip Zelikow argues that the Constitution does allow for restricting armed rallies. Writing in Lawfare, Zelikow notes that there is precedent for preventing groups of heavily armed white supremacists from gathering in intimidating mass assemblies:

In 1981 an organization called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organized and trained paramilitary groups to harass Vietnamese-American fishermen on the Texas Gulf coast. They, too, wore Army-surplus-style clothes and gear, not white sheets. Working with Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, David Berg and I represented the fishermen in a federal lawsuit against the Klan. We invoked a Texas law more than a century old that banned “military companies” other than those authorized by the governor. There are similar laws in most states, including Virginia.
We asked the judge to shut down the Klan’s paramilitary activities. Since this law had never been interpreted, we developed a legal standard to define the barred activity—a guideline that would distinguish scouts, hunters and Civil Air Patrol cadets from heavily armed men with assault weapons practicing for violent confrontations. We focused on private efforts to create a military or paramilitary organization that had “command structure, training and discipline so as to function as a combat or combat support unit.”

The judge granted their request, the order worked, and the group was enjoined from displays of intimidation.

Reading a description of one white supremacist group in Charlottesville by BuzzFeed News reporter Blake Montgomery, it’s hard not to think of that standard for an illegal paramilitary gathering:

Most white supremacist and Nazi groups arrived armed like a paramilitary force — carrying shields, protective gear, rods, and yes, lots of guns, utilizing Virginia’s loose firearm laws. They used militarized defensive maneuvers, shouting commands at one another to “move forward” or “retreat,” and would form a line of shields or a phalanx — it’s like they watched 300 a few times — to gain ground or shepherd someone through projectiles.

In his article, Zelikow went onto write that, while the Second Amendment guarantees a right to a “well-regulated militia,” federal courts have held that private militias do not have the right to free reign.

“When private self-styled militias get organized, equipped to fight, and travel to my town for a confrontation, this is not a Second Amendment story,” Zelikow told me over email. “They are organized to violate civil rights and intimidate my townspeople, to show their strength not with their speech, but with their firepower.”

Zelikow argues that towns and citizens have the right to sue and enjoin such heavily armed organized groups from staging such rallies. He also suggests that rallygoers like the ones in Charlottesville—as well as some of the counter-protesters—might have fit the standard for such an injunction. “[T]here were a number of clusters that deployed together with standardized dress (to recognize each other), standardized insignia, similar combat/riot gear, and similar classes of weapons,” Zelikow, who worked in multiple prior presidential administrations, said over email. “Not incidentally, the Antifa [anti-fascist] group also has some standardized identifiers (red neckerchiefs, for example), deploys together in an obviously coordinated way, and carried assault weapons.”

(At least one leftist group was reported to have showed up armed with guns.)

Ultimately, Zelikow compares the appearance of these sorts of heavily armed groups asserting the right to mass public assembly to darker periods in world and U.S. history:

This is not a recipe for free speech, even heated speech. These are the ingredients for civil violence. Historians will find it all too reminiscent of the setups for the pitched street battles in late-stage Weimar Germany, except that then the two sides were not nearly so well armed.
My point is that American law and the civil power in America is not now, and never has been, helpless in the face of such preparations for organized civil violence. Some of the more shameful episodes in our earlier history, such as race massacres, labor violence, and anti-religious riots (for instance against the Mormons) arose when the civil power stood by in such situations.

The coming weeks seem likely to continue to test that line between protected assembly and unprotected civil violence. The ability of civil authorities to respond when that line is crossed also seems likely to face some very serious challenges.

Aug. 15 2017 9:58 PM

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Now Trump’s Even Losing at Twitter… to Obama

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

Well, that was quite something. Donald Trump has held many unhinged press conferences during his run to the White House, and many more during his stay there, but, on Tuesday, a 21st-century president of the United States stood in the lobby of a New York City high rise and tut-tutted reporters and the general eyesight-having public over what is, and what is not, a white supremacist. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump said of the neo-Nazis marching with torches in Charlottesville over the weekend. “Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.”

Two days ago, Donald Trump didn’t say enough (or much of anything); now he’s a technical expert in distinguishing between white hate groups. Finding a happy, well-adjusted medium has never been his strong suit. Trump then moved on to explain that some people who were totally not white supremacists were there just marching to protect a statue or two.

… But many of the people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week it's Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. Is it George Washington next week, and Jefferson the week after?

And Trump the week after that? Donald Trump is clearly—and quite astutely—worried about his own potential statues’ longevity. He’s just getting a head start on solidifying his legacy—as the best presidential tweeter that’s ever lived.

But wait.

Trump’s Twitter prowess also appears to be waning in the wake of Charlottesville. He pumped out these words for the ages in the immediate aftermath:

Several hours later, the president showed his softer side with a “best regards” tweet to those who had been injured.

Meanwhile, Trump nemesis Barack Obama fired off this little ditty quoting Nelson Mandela:

The tweet was extremely popular.

The Charlottesville tweet was Obama’s first in a month and probably written by someone else, but it brings into stark relief how bad Donald Trump is at being president. And now he can’t even Twitter correctly. This feels like the real peril for the president.

Was Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville over the weekend bad? Yes, historically so. Does that mean we’ll be able to start checking out books at Donald Trump’s presidential library in Atlantic City sooner rather than later? Unfortunately, you might want to keep you local library card active for now. If acting and being racist were a deal-breaker for the presidency, we would have only had, like, four presidents—and Donald Trump certainly would not be one of them. Once Trump’s online base of Twitter bots and trolls start decamping, however, then the end is near.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Aug. 15 2017 6:18 PM

Today in Conservative Media: Trump’s Response to Terrorism Was Bad, but What About Obama’s?

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Conservatives continued on Tuesday to weigh in on the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. At the Resurgent, Erick Erickson warned that extremist violence could escalate. “There have been far more conservatives willing to call out the alt right than there have been progressives calling out the alt-left,” he wrote. “Part of the left labeling all conservatives as bigots or enablers of bigots and all leftwing activists as moral crusaders includes prominent reporters in the mainstream media. Already, what happened in Charlottesville and its aftermath have received equal or more prominent coverage than James Hodgekinson’s mass assassination attempt.”

At National Review, Ben Shapiro called the alt-right and the alt-left symptoms of an American cancer:

And so here we are. The mainstream Left has been increasingly suckered into walking hand-in-hand with the SJWs while ignoring the most egregious activities of Antifa; the mainstream Right has been increasingly seduced into footsie with alt-right associates while feigning ignorance at the alt-right itself.
That’s why Charlottesville matters: not only because we saw destruction and terror, but because if all Americans of good conscience won’t do some soul-searching and move to excise the evil in their midst, that evil will metastasize. There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.

Additionally, National Review editor Rich Lowry called for the taking down of Confederate monuments with a few potential exceptions:

Some discrimination is in order. There’s no reason to honor Jefferson Davis, the blessedly incompetent president of the Confederacy. New Orleans just sent a statue of him to storage — good riddance. Amazingly enough, Baltimore has a statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of the monstrous Dred Scott decision, which helped precipitate the war. A city commission has, rightly, recommended its destruction.
Robert E. Lee, on the other hand, is a more complicated case. He was no great friend of slavery. He wrote in a letter to his wife “that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country” (he added, shamefully, that it was good for blacks — “the painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race”). After the war, he accepted defeat and did his part to promote national healing.

The New York Times’ Bret Stephens compared President Trump’s response to Charlottesville to former President Obama’s responses to Islamic terrorist attacks, which he argued were characterized by “euphemism, obfuscation, denial, and semantic yoga.”

None of this history excuses Trump’s stubborn reluctance, rectified far-too belatedly on Monday, to call out the K.K.K. and neo-Nazis by name. On the contrary, it indicts him all the more, since it’s precisely the sort of bizarre and blatant evasiveness he used to denounce in his predecessor.
But it should also be a reminder that when it comes to looking the other way in the face of extremism and violence, failing to call evil groups by their correct names and providing economic alibis for moral depravity, liberals have their own accounts to settle. That may not be the most obvious lesson from Charlottesville, but it’s one that still needs to be learned.

The Daily Caller’s Scott Greer made a similar argument about Obama’s reaction last year to the murder of five police officers during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas. “With several officers dead by the hand of a committed black nationalist, one might think the Obama administration may have considered the assassinations domestic terror and launched an investigation into groups associated with this ideology,” he wrote. “Not at all. Barack Obama condemned the shootings, but he did not call out or even allude to Johnson’s hateful views. He did, however, blame ‘powerful weapons’ for the violence.”

LifeZette’s Edmund Kozak argued that the left is hypocritically untroubled by public statues of Vladimir Lenin. “[N]ot only does Seattle's Lenin statue stand unmolested, it has even become something of a beloved part of the local community,” he wrote. “It gets dressed in drag during the city’s gay pride parade, and is often crowned with a red star on Christmas. And it’s not even the only monument erected in a U.S. city to the Soviet revolutionary.”

In other news:

Conservatives credited Trump’s bellicose rhetoric for North Korea’s backtracking on threats against Guam. Rush Limbaugh:

It is Donald Trump who told this guy what-for. It’s Donald Trump who practically begged this guy to hit Guam and everybody in Washington said, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God, he’s begging him!”
You remember this? “He’s insulting Kim Jong-un! Oh, no! He just told Kim Jong-un to go to hell. Oh, no, he just called Kim Jong-un crazy! Oh, no!” In the left’s view of things, that’s gonna make Kim Jong-un really offended and really mad and he’s gonna launch. They do not understand. You know, Rex Tillerson said, “Back off! Trump is just talking the language they understand,” and Kim Jong-un has backed off, and the last person you’re gonna see get any credit for it is Trump.

On Fox Business, Stuart Varney called Trump “the first president to successfully face down the lunatic with a nuke.”

It is North Korea and their backing down that is giving stock prices something of a boost today. In short, Kim has backed down. Two days ago he threatened to fire missiles at Guam. That is a U.S. territory. Defense Secretary Mattis said very clearly, “Don’t do it. Fire off those missiles and your regime is done.” President Trump’s policy is clear. Tell them you can take them, convince them you will do it. It worked. The NOKO’s blinked.
In the long history of threats and escalations and endless retreats by American presidents, North Korea has never backed down until now.

Aug. 15 2017 5:25 PM

David Duke Praises Trump’s Defense of Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally

Donald Trump just delivered a shocking press conference in which he said that the alt-right rally last Friday night in Charlottesville, Virginia, (in which torch-carrying protesters chanted the white supremacist motto "blood and soil" and shouted "Jews will not replace us") involved "some very fine people"; he then accused anti-racist counter-protesters of being just as culpable as white supremacists in Saturday's events, during which a counter-protester was killed, apparently intentionally, by a white supremacist driving a car. Infamous white pride creep David Duke immediately applauded Trump's statement:

Not much to say about that other than: So, this is where we are right now.

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