White Supremacists Shall Not Rise Again

White supremacists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia/ Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

New Orleans    What kind of social media dog whistle sent out the call? What made the white supremacists and various groups of the alt-right think that somehow Charlottesville, Virginia was the place to make their play? Was this an effort to make a stand or take a big step up in enemy territory?

Charlottesville is a smallish, liberal university town. It’s where people in Virginia have gone to embrace diversity, not to run from it. The community organization, Virginia Organizing, is headquartered there. The Thomas Jefferson designed University of Virginia has it’s home campus here. The county went for Clinton in 2016 with 60% to only 34% for Trump.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t about Confederate statuary. What had been Lee Park had already been named Emancipation Park. This was a fight already fought and lost.

This was all about making a statement because the white-right calculated that they are in ascendancy and wanted to take another tactical step up the ladder to claim a place legitimizing their version of hate and identity-politics gone wild. The call was out. Observers called this the largest white supremacists public rally in recent memory. And, why?

Whether you support or oppose him, there’s really no way to get around the fact that they have been emboldened by Donald Trump and his presidency. His lame, limp-wristed, two-handed response blaming everyone for violence, that was clearly provoked and implemented by the supremacists and their supporters, including the weaponized car attack which has killed one protester and injured almost twenty others, can’t be papered over, or perhaps the better word is “whitewashed,” by additional revisions by the White House communications team or his daughter. President Trump didn’t wrong foot his answer. It’s pretty clear he said what was on his mind, and his mind was wrongheaded on this core issue of racism completely.

When Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, well-known Alabama racial apologist and whiter-than-white and down with the cause it seems himself, understands that Charlottesville is serious enough that he issues a statement saying the Justice Department is mobilizing to prosecute civil rights violations there, then no one should have needed a weatherman to understand how the wind was blowing. Speaker Ryan called the events “repugnant.” Some understood their cherished, and often abused, “rule of law” was threatened. Yet, President Trump can’t buy a clue when it comes to understanding racism, anti-Semitism, and the litany of alt-right protests on display.

Was this Steve Bannon, his chief strategist? Heck, I even think Bannon and his Breitbart crowd are smarter than to show their true selves so starkly.

This Trump reality reveal is past politics. He has shown his vacuous core beliefs here, and it is frightening because they are dark and divisive.

Charlottesville needs to be a turning point for all of us, and Trump needs to alter his course. Immediately.


Humpty Dumpty Health Care

Paris   Nothing like a couple of weeks on the road, three countries, a half-dozen or so cities, and the siren song of home, heat, and humidity all sounds better and better. Of course there’s no escaping the headlines or the occasional questions from random people from all walks of life about what thoughts we might have on Trump. As excited as people around the world were about Obama as president, they are mystified by Trump. They are not alone.

The Republican Senate’s efforts to not just repeal-and-replace Obamacare, but to cap entitlements for Medicaid and pretty much kick the teeth out of the poor, elderly, disabled, and others seems to have alienated a couple of senators, while others wanted a chance to run up and kick harder and go for the kill. The New York Times reported that Senator Portman from Ohio has been a huge problem behind-the-scenes for the Republican majority leader and his efforts to pull together the votes. Seems he was concerned about what might happen to 700,000 people in Ohio that had gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Wow! That’s a good question for a lot of politicians from a lot of states it would seem. Turns out that when you push Humpty Dumpty off the wall, it really is hard to put the pieces back again.

And, in fact as the votes collapsed on the latest Senate version, there was an even greater implosion on the latest Trump twitter tantrum urging just repeal and deal a couple of years down the road. Seems immediately three Republican women in the Senate from West Virginia, Maine, and Alaska said the equivalent of “what are you pulling my leg,” saying that it would be reckless and irresponsible to simply repeal and blow the Act up.

Many of the Republican governors with shorter terms and quicker elections who are forced to be closer to their constituents also got their back up on these draconian cuts and caps in Nevada, Ohio, and elsewhere. They have earned some thanks as well.

I wish there were a lesson learned on the order of “don’t mess with entitlements,” but we know better. Like a bad dream, they’ll be back with more mischief and other attempts, and one way or another, they will have to do something now, we might hope, to fix some of the pieces of Obamacare that are broken.

Will they reach out to Democrats? Do they really have a choice?

Maybe this will be a twist on the old story, that if you break it, you own it. In this case, the message to the Senate might be, if you can’t break it, then do your job, and fix it.