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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Night at the Movies

Celestial seasonings: A total eclipse mixtape

By Dennis Hartley

Depending on your worldview, Monday’s super-hyped solar eclipse may be interpreted as: a). A sign of the impending apocalypse, b). A sign that once in a blue moon, the moon blows in and obscures the sun, giving humanity the impression (for a few heart stopping moments) that the apocalypse has, in fact, arrived, or c). A dollar sign for event promoters, hoteliers, tow truck drivers, and people who sell cheap cardboard sunglasses.

I know. I’m a cynical bastard.

If the “Eclipse of the Century” forces people to tear themselves away from their 5 inch iPhone screen to gaze up at The Big Sky, and ponder the awesomeness and vastness of the cosmos (and most importantly, humankind’s relative insignificance in the grand scheme of things)...then I’m for it (I Googled “can you view the eclipse with a...” and right after “mirror”, “sunglasses” and “welding mask”, there it was- goddamn “iPhone”).

So do me a favor? If you’re lucky enough to make it through the horrendous traffic and wriggle through the madding crowd and snag a perfect observation point in one of the areas that will experience totality...don’t view it through a 5-inch screen...LOOK at it! Wear eye protection, of course, but experience the ACTUAL PHENOMENON! Thanks.

After all, as Carl Sagan observed:

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

BTW, here’s evolutionary perspective on why we sophisticated, technically-advanced humanoids still get the tiniest little lizard brain-fueled twitch when Big Light Go Away:

With that in mind, please enjoy this special mixtape that I have assembled to accompany the solar system’s ultimate laserium show (don’t worry-I didn’t forget the Floyd, man!).

The Rolling Stones- “2000 Light Years from Home”

Paul Weller- “Andromeda”

The Orb- “Backside of the Moon”

Kate Bush- “The Big Sky”

Soundgarden- “Black Hole Sun”

Husker Du- “Books about UFOs”

Pink Floyd- “Brain Damage/Eclipse”

Crosby, Stills, & Nash- “Dark Star”

The Ian Gillian Band- “Five Moons”

Moxy- “Moon Rider”

King Crimson- “Moonchild”

Nick Drake- “Pink Moon”

Elton John- “Rocket Man”

David Bowie- “Space Oddity”

Liz Phair- “Stars and Planets”

Yes- “Starship Trooper”

Bonnie Hayes- “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

The Church- “Under the Milky Way”

Paul McCartney & Wings- “Venus + Mars”

Gamma- “Voyager”

Previous posts with related themes:
T minus-5

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--Dennis Hartley

Music to my ears

by digby

I just can't get enough of the right wing crazies rending their garments over Trump. It's actually making me feel better about life.

This is Ann Coulter talking to gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, of all things:

In a conversation that amounted to a primal scream, Coulter repeatedly attacked her former hero for betraying his constituency, belittled White House aides such as Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller, accused the president of kowtowing to the same news media he professes to loathe, and otherwise raged at the dying of the wall along with any number of other populist policy prescriptions that Trump touted to beat the Republican establishment and Hillary Clinton.

“The millions of people who haven’t voted for 30 years and came out to vote for Trump, thinking ‘finally, here’s somebody who cares about us’—Nope!” Coulter declared. “Republicans, Democrats—doesn’t matter! Jeb exclamation point, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton—doesn’t matter. Goldman Sachs is running the country!”
As for Stephen Miller, the former Jeff Sessions aide who briefly became the architect of the president’s anti-Muslim ban and occasionally jousts in the White House press room, “he’s just a speechwriter for the White House staff,” Coulter said. For a good part of the 2016 presidential campaign, Coulter insisted, Conway was a diehard Ted Cruz supporter.

“As late as the summer [of 2016], Kellyanne was saying that Trump built his business on the backs of the little guy,” Coulter continued. “You know I love the Emperor God, but he does have flaws. And one of them is his vast, yawning narcissism. He just seems to be obsessed with the fact that people give Bannon credit. And we all know that [Jared] Kushner is the one who won the White House for him.”

Coulter claimed it’s interim communications director Hope Hicks and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski—whom Kushner pushed out of the campaign—who really deserve the credit for Trump’s political success. Coulter added that it was Kushner, along with former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn and national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, who finally got Bannon’s scalp and are probably targeting Conway and Miller as well.

Coulter added: “The Time magazine cover [a big-headed portrait of the man headlined as “President Bannon”] and the Saturday Night Live sketch [in which “Bannon,” wearing the black shroud of Death and carrying a scythe, sat at the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk while “Trump”/Alec Baldwin was vanquished to a tiny kindergarten desk]—every time he’s asked about Bannon, the Emperor God goes, ‘He didn’t win it for me! He only came in August! I already wrapped up the nomination!’ You don’t have to be a very sensitive person capable of reading body language to understand that Trump is obsessed by that. It’s driven him crazy.

“So did Kellyanne [arrive late to Trump’s campaign] and Trump gives her credit.”
With Bannon, however, “his little tiny ego explodes,” Coulter went on. “All you have to do with whatever White House staffer the media would like to get fired—just put him on the cover of a magazine and call him ‘President Whatever the Guy’s Last Name Is.’ It’s not good to show the media that you are so easily manipulable… The media is running the staffing at the White House now.”

Lulz... I love it.


The Big Kahuna has always been in charge

by digby

I rarely agree with anything Matthew Continetti says but this op-ed in the NY Times sounds right to me:

Mr. Bannon’s reputation is overrated. Yes, he transformed Breitbart from an irreverent blog into the iconoclastic tribune of nation-state populism, the anti-elitist ideology of border walls, travel bans and political incorrectness.

But his career as a political consultant has been short and checkered. As the president has observed, Mr. Bannon did not join Mr. Trump’s campaign until August 2016, by which time Mr. Trump had secured the Republican nomination. Mr. Trump’s general election victory was remarkable. It was also something of a black-swan event. There is a tendency, especially among Mr. Trump’s supporters, to overlook the fact that, had some 79,000 votes in three states gone the other way, the winner of the popular vote would now be in the White House.

Since his inauguration, President Trump’s numbers have steadily declined. He is at 39 percent approval and at 55 percent disapproval in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. The low standing depletes Mr. Trump’s political capital and his leverage over Congress. It endangers Republican control of one or both legislative chambers. Perhaps it is time to take advice from someone else.

Of course, Mr. Trump does not seem inclined to listen to anyone at all. That is even more reason not to exaggerate Mr. Bannon’s influence. Mr. Bannon may have encouraged Mr. Trump to follow his instincts, but that is precisely the point: Mr. Trump’s natural inclinations are in perfect harmony with the voters he refers to in casual conversation as “my people.” Mr. Bannon may have encouraged Mr. Trump not to back down from his positions on the violence in Charlottesville and on the place of statuary memorializing the Confederacy. But the final decision, like all decisions in this White House, was Mr. Trump’s alone.

Mr. Bannon has flitted through an eccentric career in the Navy, on Wall Street, in Hollywood and in the populist faction of the conservative movement. He has a reputation as a well-read autodidact whose syncretic worldview is the result of years of independent and wide-ranging study.

But he is a terrible colleague. His unprompted interview last week with the editor of a liberal magazine not only demonstrated a naïve willingness to forge alliances with the economic left on trade and infrastructure. It also confirmed everything that has been said about Mr. Bannon: He disparages his co-workers behind their backs; he postures as the force behind personnel decisions; and he pretends to know more about national security than James Mattis, John Kelly, H. R. McMaster and Joseph Dunford (not to mention Donald Trump).

The conflicting reports about the timing and method of Mr. Bannon’s fall, whether he was fired or resigned, whether he knew he was on his way out or was suddenly expelled, are additional signs of his habit of manipulating the press for his personal benefit.

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview with The Weekly Standard on Friday. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over.”

“President Trump has told close associates that he believes Steve Bannon is behind damaging leaks about White House colleagues,” Axios.com reported last week. The American Prospect interview made Mr. Trump’s suspicions impossible to doubt.

The costs of Mr. Bannon’s presence in the West Wing outweighed the benefits. You can’t have an underling raise the white flag in the middle of a nuclear standoff with North Korea. You can’t tell Mr. Kelly to impose order on the staff while allowing Mr. Bannon to run around D.C. impugning the men and women who stand in his way. You can’t begin to rebuild your presidency with Mr. Bannon on payroll.

Between May 9, when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and Aug. 15, when he said there were good people “on both sides” of the clash between racists and antifa, or anti-fascists, Mr. Trump has done more damage to himself and to his office than any president in memory. Whatever hopes he has of salvaging his presidency begin in suppressing the infighting, factionalism, subversion, dysfunction and flirtations with extremism within his inner circle.

The myth of Steve Bannon’s power may live on. But the reality is that Mr. Trump no longer needs him and is unlikely to be harmed by Mr. Bannon’s sniping.

The connection between Mr. Trump and the forces Mr. Bannon represents is visceral and durable. To save his presidency, though, Mr. Trump must join with another, far larger constituency: the American people.

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Trump's relationship with his base is secure. They see him as besieged by all the same forces they feel are victimizing them: political correctness, elites of both parties, racial and ethnic minorities, foreigners, liberal hippies, uppity feminists and the media. They don't care about his policy agenda. He's their Jesus being crucified for them.

Breitbart is a powerful megaphone. But it's far more likely Bannon is going to use it to blow up the GOP congress and take on the media than Trump. Bannon's overrated as a thinker and a strategist. But he's a good propagandist for this cause. He'll keep at it and Trump will thank him for it.

They had the time of their lives

by digby


Trump does not have a "philosophy"

by digby

According to Mike Allen at Axios:

At the end, Trump was beyond fed up, viewing Bannon as a self-aggrandizer who had built a personal narrative as the grand puppetmaster.
"Who the f**k does this guy think he is?" Trump has said incredulously to associates. 
Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me it's no surprise Trump didn't issue a farewell message on Friday: The president can't stand Bannon at the moment. (Trump tweeted a belated "Thanks S" about Bannon on Saturday morning.) 
But few people are ever really gone from Trumpworld, and we bet it won't be long before Bannon is regularly gossiping with Trump and counseling him.
That'll produce a huge tension: Bannon is more ideologically aligned with Trump than are the other members of the inner circle. So Bannon will be in his head and in his ear, while top advisers are counseling moderation.

A big irony: Bannon got personally crossways with the president at a time when nationalist policies were ascendant with POTUS. Trump agreed with Bannon's formula for confronting China on trade, although he later succumbed to the effort of other officials to dial that back. And Bannon egged on Trump with the view of Charlottesville that later drew such a backlash.

The post-Bannon presidency: West Wing sources expect that with Bannon gone, the administration will be less likely to use trade as a weapon, and more likely to flex military muscle against bad actors.

Be smart: A huge tension that'll unfold beginning this fall is that Trump is more ideologically aligned with Bannon than he is with the more moderate officials who now surround him in the West Wing.

So Steve Bannon will remain in the president's ear and in his head, telling Trump to be Trump. And that's a message this president has never been known to resist.

Some of this sounds right to me. Bannon will be back in Trump's good graces and will tell him to be himself.

But Trump is not ideological in the way Allen seems to think he is. His beliefs on both "trade" and national security are based on his simplistic worldview that says the United States needs to be "respected" and if it isn't he's going to do something about it. He'll torture, kill and steal if that's what it takes. That has always been the case.

Bannon is a self-professed chaos agent who is happy to use Trump's simple-minded vacuousness for his own purposes, one of which is obviously to "let Trump be Trump." But they are not on the same page, not really, and the fact that people still think that Trump is some kind of an economic populist or an isolationist in any way is frustrating. He has no philosophy, he has domination impulses. That's it.

Soulless cult

by digby

This Bannon postmortem by Ryan Lizza is very good and well worth reading. This is a particularly great insight:
But in the Trump White House there is no Trump agenda. There is a mercurial, highly emotional narcissist with no policy expertise who set up—or allowed his senior staffers to set up—competing ideological fiefdoms that fight semi-public wars to define the soul of Trumpism.
Of course Trumpism has no soul so that fight will never end.


A question of conscience

by Tom Sullivan

Bloody Sunday - Alabama police attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers, 1965. Public domain.

I am trying to weigh the merits of the “antifa” (antifascist or Anti-Fascist Action) groups confronting the alt-right assemblage of Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, etc. at the recent white power and Unite-the-Right protests. The violent clashes between antifa counterprotesters and the alt-right in Charlottesville last weekend, and the death of Heather Heyer, have put a spotlight on the antifas the groups have not received in the past. Like their opponents, the antifas are not a monolithic group, and loosely organized into local cells, sometimes overlapping with masked, black bloc anarchists. While clergy and Black Lives Matter groups prefer nonviolent protest, the antifas prefer more direct confrontation.

Peter Beinert writes at The Atlantic:

Those responses sometimes spill blood. Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.
The local Indivisible chapter organized a peace vigil downtown here last Sunday in solidarity with Charlottesville. It was one of many such vigils around the country. Not a Nazi symbol in sight. Yet the local antifa group that attended seemed bent on taking over what was intended to be a peaceful rally. There was a shouting match with police the organizers had requested. Later, the group split off and marched through downtown chanting slogans. To the usual "Whose streets? Our streets!" they added “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand.” and "What do we want? DEAD NAZIS. When do we want 'em? NOW!"

One protester was later arrested for assaulting a TV reporter, although no injury was reported. The accounts of witnesses I spoke to suggest it was a local antifa member.

”The antifa protesters disrupted what was supposed to be a peaceful vigil,” organizer Valerie Hartshorn told reporters.

The New York Times this week reinforced Beinart's assessment:
Unlike most of the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere, members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy. As explained this week by a dozen adherents of the movement, the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.

“People are starting to understand that neo-Nazis don’t care if you’re quiet, you’re peaceful,” said Emily Rose Nauert, a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley.

“You need violence in order to protect nonviolence,” Ms. Nauert added. “That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”
In contrast with that portrait, Brandy Daniels, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia who holds a doctorate in theology from Vanderbilt, told Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" that antifa activists defended her and fellow faith leaders from a group of "white supremacist/nazis."

Charlottesville resident Dahlia Lithwick interviewed Daniels and several other witnesses for Slate. They praised antifa activists for interposing themselves between peaceful protesters and the alt-right's shock troops. Rev. Seth Wispelwey believes the antifas saved his life twice on Saturday from "men carrying weapons, shields, and Trump flags and sporting MAGA hats and Hitler salutes and waving Nazi flags and the pro-slavery 'stars and bars.'” He tells Lithwick:
A phalanx of neo-Nazis shoved right through our human wall with 3-foot-wide wooden shields, screaming and spitting homophobic slurs and obscenities at us. It was then that antifa stepped in to thwart them. They have their tools to achieve their purposes, and they are not ones I will personally use, but let me stress that our purposes were the same: block this violent tide and do not let it take the pedestal.

The white supremacists did not blink at violently plowing right through clergy, all of us dressed in full clerical garb. White supremacy is violence. I didn’t see any racial justice protesters with weapons; as for antifa, anything they brought I would only categorize as community defense tools and nothing more. Pretty much everyone I talk to agrees—including most clergy. My strong stance is that the weapon is and was white supremacy, and the white supremacists intentionally brought weapons to instigate violence.
Eyeroll here for the minister's using "community defense tools" as a euphemism for fists, sticks, and pepper spray.

Living as I do in the home state of Rev. William Barber, Moral Mondays, and the Greensboro lunch counter, violent confrontation feels like the wrong approach both tactically and politically. Yet no one should confuse those using violence to combat Nazis with Nazis. To do that would be to condemn the Allied effort to liberate Europe in WWII. But neither is this "full-on war," as Nauert believes.

What makes Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalists worse than antifas is being Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalists. But what makes them all punks is both groups arriving itching for a fight. This makes antifas look no different from the Sharks rumbling with the Jets over turf. That is the story the "both sides do it" press will run with. The alt-right just brings superior firepower.

Antifa's self-righteous aggression and anti-establishment militancy reinforce the veneer of patriotism for those claiming persecution while espousing race hatred, and furnishes them both cover they don't deserve and the battles they crave for growing their movement. Peaceful counterprotest throws the light of truth on the bad guys without muddying the waters. Violent confrontation won't stop alt-right bigots, only justify them. Violent confrontation gives them just what they want.

Certainly, the frustration is real that "white liberals are not up to the challenge of beating back right-wing extremists." But it wasn't white liberals primarily who beat back white, right-wing extremists in the 1960s anyway, but a multicultural coalition of dedicated faith leaders and social justice activists who rejected the notion that you needed violence in order to protect nonviolence. It was the spectacle of Bloody Sunday police violence against nonviolent protesters in Selma that shocked the nation's conscience and turned the tide in the battle for civil rights.

But to give antifas the benefit of the doubt, after government-sanctioned torture, repeated police shootings of unarmed black men, and a morally bankrupt president's white nationalist rallies, the question now is whether this nation has any conscience left to shock.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Steve Bannon was fired.

That is all.

Just kidding:

Three baby Rock Hyraxes have made their public debuts at Chester Zoo. The pocket-sized pups, which are yet to be named or sexed, arrived to mother Dassie and dad Nungu on July 21 weighing just over half a pound (250g) each – no heavier than a bar of soap!

Rock Hyraxes may be short in stature but these tiny animals have a surprising genetic link: they are more closely related to Elephants than any other species on Earth. Scientists posit that Hyraxes and Elephants evolved from a single common ancestor.

Rock Hyraxes’ two tusk-like incisor teeth constantly grow, just like the tusks of an Elephant. The two species also have similarly-shaped feet and similar skull structure.  

Small mammals often experience a short pregnancy period, but Rock Hyraxes are different, with their pregnancy lasting more than seven months. The young are well developed when born, just like miniature adults.

David White, Team Manager of small mammals at Chester Zoo said, “Rock Hyraxes have helped conservationists learn so much about the evolution of different animals, and how animals can evolve and adapt to the environments where they live – they really are special little creatures."

In the wild, Rock Hyraxes are known as ‘Rock Rabbits’ or ‘Dassies’ and can be found in large colonies across Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Scientists believe they even have their own form of language, using 20 different vocalizations in particular tones and orders to convey meaning.

Genuinely Sickening, On So Many Levels 

by tristero

If this is true, the karma the men (because it has be men, or mostly men) who did this will take aeons to purify. And it is a reminder it is the Republican party - not just Trump - that is callous to the point of monstrousness:

When he was 11 years old, LJ Stroud of St. Augustine, Florida, had a tooth emerge in a place where no tooth belongs: the roof of his mouth. 
LJ was born with severe cleft lip and palate, which explained the strange eruption, as well as the constant ear infections that no antibiotic could remedy. 
With her son in terrible pain, Meredith Stroud arranged for surgeries to fix his problems. 
But just days before the procedures were to take place, the surgeons' office called to cancel them. 
Like nearly half of all children in Florida, LJ is on Medicaid, which has several types of insurance plans. The state had switched LJ to a new plan, and his surgeons didn't take it... 
"He was in pain every day," Stroud said. "I just felt so helpless. It's such a horrible feeling where you can't help your kid..." 
 ...parents and Florida pediatricians raise questions about the true reasons why Florida's Republican administration switched the children's health plans. They question whether it was to financially reward insurance companies that had donated millions of dollars to the Republican Party of Florida. 
"This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it's the children who suffered," said Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 
 I'm truly at a loss for words. This is an explosive accusation. But CNN has pretty good fact checkers so I'm going with the story being accurate.

And now excuse me, I'm going to be sick.
80% of Republicans back Trump on Charlottesville

by digby

Despite the fact that a neo-Nazi plowed into a crowed of people injuring many and killing one "counter-protester" by the name of Heather Heyer, and a group of torch bearing Nazis marched through the streets shouting "Jews will not replace us", 80% of Republicans think that "both sides" were to blame for the events in Charlottesville.

It would seem that the Republican party believes that Nazis should be left alone to do whatever they want unopposed. I don't see how you can look at that result and think otherwise.

Such good people they are, every last one of them.

I think that Democrats had better start grappling with the fact that Republicans will follow him anywhere and back him no matter what he says or does.  It is now a cult, not a political party.


The 2nd Amendment cannot be allowed to usurp the 1st

by digby

Yes, finally, good on them:
The violent events that transpired at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend has pushed the American Civil Liberties Union to take a tougher stance on the hate groups it defends in court.

The civil rights group will now screen its clients more closely and won’t represent groups who protest while carrying firearms, the executive director told The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the neo-Nazis’ right to assemble when the group gathered last weekend to protest the removal of the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. The organization is known for its defense of the free speech rights of hate groups, claiming that creating exceptions to the First Amendment for hate groups make the less stringent for everyone.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Executive Director Anthony Romero told the Journal. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

The group’s Virginia branch defended the white supremacists against Charlottesville’s efforts to deny them a permit. City officials wanted the protest moved a mile away from the park to better accommodate the crowd. The ACLU argued in federal court that the city’s decision was based on opposition to the group’s views, not safety concerns.

Many lashed out against the civil rights group when violence broke out at the rally. A self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Hayer and injuring 19 others.

Several members of the group that assembled last Saturday were carrying firearms, but no one was hurt by them. Romero said the ACLU thinks just having guns at a protest can suppress freedom of speech through intimidation.

I have long believed that the open carrying of firearms at political events was an assault on free speech. This one's from 2013:

Fine defenders of the Second Amendment

by digby

I've been writing about the gun rights zealots who use their second amendment rights as a license to intimidate those who disagree with them by appearing armed at gun control rallies for a long time. That's not all they're doing: 
Shannon Watts knew she was heading into a rough neighborhood when she became an activist in the battle over gun control. A former corporate executive and mother of five children, Watts launched a gun-control group, now called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, not long after the Newtown shootings. As the new push to restrict guns grabbed attention over the ensuing year, Watts and other activists experienced the blowback up close, in sometimes frightening detail.

At protest rallies, they have been met by men carrying rifles. (It's legal: many states permit the open carry of “long guns.”) Watts has had her home address in Indianapolis posted online along with the suggestion that “people show up and show why it’s important to have a gun.” She has gotten letters at home saying that the sender knows where her kids go to school and where her husband works. On the lighter side, an ironist has been sending her free issues of Guns & Ammo.

She has a harder time finding irony in images floating around online featuring her head bloodied by a huge knife stuck into her skull.

On the Facebook page of Starbucks—a battleground, thanks to Moms Demand Action’s successful effort to get Starbucks to discourage open carry of weapons in its shops—McBeefington posted a map of Martin’s neighborhood with the message: “I saw there was a recent incident where an NYPD officer got shot by someone—in the middle of Bloomberg’s gun-free utopia—and quite near your home, to boot.” (The image, in fact, depicted Martin's old neighborhood.) On the same page, he posted another message noting that Martin's son was about to turn four: “I went to Starbucks and had an early celebration for his upcoming birthday,” he wrote, with an accompanying photo of a birthday cake set beside an NRA membership card. (He’d apparently deduced the child's age from years-old postings by Martin elsewhere online.) Also on Facebook, someone else sent Martin a direct message with a gory picture of a badly wounded foot. “BTW, this is what happens when careless people tread on coiled, venomous snakes,” the message read.
It's logical that people who feel the need to carry guns in public might be prone to violence, especially those who ostentatiously carry them at political events with the obvious intention of intimidating those who disagree with them. These are not your benign game hunters or fellows who have a gun in the house for protection. They are armed fanatics.  This social media harassment is a slightly less intimidating approach, but considering the statistics on abuse, it's predictable that it features such violent misogyny. There's just something about guns that brings out the assholes.
Like Watts, Martin is relatively unperturbed by the harassment. But she does worry others could be dissuaded from getting involved in gun control activism by the online nastiness or by the open-carry protesters, like the large group that gathered recently outside a strip-mall restaurant near Dallas where a few Moms Demand Action members were meeting for a strategy session. “I’m not worried about any of this stuff. But what about the mom in Texas who’s scared shitless?" said Martin. "If I were younger and less vocal and more easily intimidated…who are they stopping from sharing their thoughts?"
Let's just say that when I see someone openly carrying a gun I avoid him like the plague. I keep quiet in his presence and I get out of there as soon as possible. I've always done this, even when I lived in Alaska where there are a lot of guns. They are deadly weapons and people who feel the need to prove their macho bonafides in public by carrying guns already prove they have a psychology of bullying and intimidation that makes them dangerous. Certainly, if I go to a political event and someone is armed I will leave. It's possible that tempers will flare, as often happens around politics, and there will be unintended violence or, more likely, the intimidation will work and it will be a waste of time because half the people will keep their opinions to themselves. (Nice little first amendment you have there ...) 

The vast majority of Second Amendment activists are upright citizens just doing what we're all doing. But unlike most activists, it only takes one armed gun fanatic to lose his temper at a political event for something very bad to happen. It is, by its very nature, undemocratic to come armed to a rally. And they know it. That's why they do it. They could, after all, just carry a sign and make speeches like everyone else. 

Two more chairs to go

by digby

Bannon vs Trump's "Democrats, Globalists and Generals"

by digby

Steve Bannon is reportedly going back to Breitbart. That is a mistake and I'm surprised he's doing it. He has an agenda and part of it is to sow dissension on the left over "identity politics" vs economic populism and hostility toward the "deep state", which is a real fault line, if less of a chasm than some people want to believe. He could possibly make progress on that if he started a new project and re-branded himself as an isolationist, economic populist but Breitbart's "alt-right" identity is toxic to everyone on the left. From what I'm seeing so far, Breitbart is planning to "go to war" against the administration saying that it's full of "Democrats, globalists and Generals." (You can be sure that they will also continue to be a hub for the "alt-right's" connection to the Nazis and Neo-confederates too.)

From the commentary I heard this morning, much of the punditocrisy apparently agrees with Bannon that all that confederate statue stuff has no salience among Trump voters since they inexplicably continue to contend that those nice salt-o-the-earth All American boys and girls reject white supremacy and just want some good union work in a factory somewhere and are looking to Donald Trump to finally deliver now that he got rid of that awful racist.

The pundits are deluded.

Greg Sargent explained why this is utter nonsense:

[Heather Heyer's mother Susan ]Bro’s emotional response to Trump is a reminder that his reversion to his current reprehensible posture didn’t have to happen. While his flat condemnation of white supremacy did not undo the damage caused by his initial statement on Saturday blaming “many sides,” it largely said the right thing. Republicans were pleased and relieved by it. The mother of the young woman who died had thanked him for it.

But then Trump just had to make a large show of returning to his original position, dividing blame between white supremacists, Nazis and Klansmen on one side, and those protesting their racism, hatred and belief in the inferiority of African Americans and Jews on the other. We know Trump did this at least in part because he did not want to be seen surrendering to pressure to single out racism and white supremacy for full blame. He was in a rage because he “felt he had already given too much ground to his opponents.” He didn’t want to deliver the statement condemning white supremacy because he was “loath to appear to be admitting a mistake.” It is utter madness that these sentiments played such an important role in shaping the presidential response at such a fraught moment of national tension and introspection.

Meanwhile, Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, is strutting around extolling the political brilliance of Trump’s Charlottesville response. Bannon did a media tour yesterday boasting that Trump’s escalating defense of Confederate statues is a political winner for him. Now Bannon adds to this in a brash email to The Post:

“This past election, the Democrats used every personal attack, including charges of racism, against President Trump. He then won a landslide victory on a straightforward platform of economic nationalism.”

The idea that Trump won a landslide is an absurd lie, and the idea that Trump has any kind of agenda of “economic nationalism” to speak of is laughable. There are no trade or infrastructure plans (something progressives would actually like to see) in sight. The only real policies Trump has embraced that fit under what Bannon describes as “economic nationalism” are stepped-up deportations, slashing legal immigration and the thinly disguised Muslim ban. Indeed, it’s telling that Bannon defends Trump’s Charlottesville response by pointing to the alleged power of his alleged “economic nationalism” — it validates suspicions that this was always intended largely as a fig leaf for xenophobia and racism.

Bro’s appearance today throws all of this into even sharper relief. We expect presidents to recognize that their role carries with it obligations and duties to try to calm the antagonisms that are being unleashed at moments like this. That’s particularly true right now, with experts warning that Trump’s handling of Charlottesville’s aftermath could cause an escalation in white supremacist activity — meaning it could end up encouraging more violence and death. But Trump’s response at this critical moment is rooted largely in megalomania and a desire not to be seen capitulating, and his chief strategist is barely disguising his view that racial strife and turmoil are good for Trump politically.

Trump will always be driven by his own infantile need for attention. But he's demonstrated over and over again that he is also a simple-minded bigot with a violent imagination and has been for years. These two characteristics in the office of president of the United States present a clear and present danger no matter who is advising him.

Bannon, on the other hand, is a wily operator whose essential philosophy is that we are on the cusp of a completely new system born of chaos and he wants to be the instrument that brings that about. He's essentially a secular armageddonist. Reports as of right now are that he's already been in contact with the Mercers and has secured their financial support. We don't know what he'll do with it but it would probably be a good idea not to take anything he says at face value. When he starts talking about economic populism and trade wars with China, watch your back. There's probably an "alt-right" neo-Nazi wearing khakis and nice white polo shirt standing there with a gun at your head.

Oh, and by the way --- Trump's not going to change. He can call up his bud Steve any time he wants. He was a pussy-grabbing, torture-loving, Mexican hating, Central Park Five black-lives-don't-matter, bomb the shit out of 'em and take the oil guy long before he ever met Steve Bannon. And as the conservative commentator Charlie Sykes said on MSNBC this morning, anyone thinking that Bannon or anyone else can part Trump from his base underestimates the cult of personality that's built up around the man. Those rural white voters love him. And they will take his word over anyone else's including Steve Bannon.

The best we can hope for is that he doesn't start a nuclear war. Anyone saying that this departure means he's going to make that pivot once and for all is making a fool of herself. We may be entering a new phase, but Trump is Trump. Things will never be "normal" until he and his sycophants are out of power. (That means the enabling wimps of the Republican Party too, in case you were wondering.)


Trump's propaganda Rasputin

by digby

I wrote about Breitbart for Salon this morning, before Bannon was out. I suspect he will continue to work on the "alt-right's" behalf on the outside quite efficiently:

So in the midst of a national firestorm over neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates coming together under the banner of white nationalism to “Unite the Right” last weekend in Charlottesville, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, former publisher of Breitbart News, the self-proclaimed “platform of the alt-right,” decided out of the blue to call up Robert Kuttner of the liberal American Prospect to chew the fat. Kuttner told Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi that he believes Bannon when he says he forgot to say it was off the record and that he really saw it as “a candid strategy talk with a comrade.” Kuttner said:
[Bannon] simultaneously tries to make alliances with lefties on economic nationalism, while doubling down on the racist, anti-immigrant stuff, and assumes that people will naively work with him on selected issues and excuse his larger role. It’s classic hubris.
If Bannon had been able to persuade his boss to tackle infrastructure right out of the gate when the Democrats were still reeling in disbelief, and if he had distanced himself from the worst elements of the right once he took office, that might even have worked. But that also would have required the boss to be someone other than who he is.

People have been focusing on Bannon’s comments that the far right are “losers” who need to be crushed, and his taunting of the left, which he hopes will “keep talking about race” so Team Trumpists can win on economic nationalism. This is disingenuous to say the least. To the extent Bannon truly believes that the neo-Nazis are “losers,” it’s largely a matter of aesthetics. As Vice reporter Elle Reed explained on MSNBC on Wednesday, the “alt-right” is re-branding itself as the new fascism:

That means getting rid of swastikas because they call that a dead ideology so there’s no point in bringing that out. They also want to cut out, as they call it, “white trash.” They want to look like a middle-class movement with clean-cut, good-looking men. It’s a movement focused on aesthetics. They want to look like successful people so that people want to join them.

When Bannon was the publisher of Breitbart News he oversaw the publication of the manifesto for what Taibbi describes as the” snooty, college-based wing of the racialist right Bannon leads … the thinking man’s Nazi movement” called “The Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” Bannon knows which side his swastika is buttered on. Insulting the “low-IQ thugs” of the neo-fascist right may best be seen as his own version of Bill Clinton’s Sistah Souljah moment.

Bannon’s “outreach” to the American Prospect was a transparent attempt to exacerbate what he sees as the division on the left between economic populism and “identity politics.” Perhaps he was under the weather or had had a few cocktails but Kuttner was not born yesterday saw through his ploy. Choosing this moment to make such a pitch was ill-timed to say the least.

But if Bannon’s stategic prowess is overstated, his propaganda chops are not. At that he is very, very good and extremely influential. On Wednesday Robert Faris, Ethan Zuckerman and a group of scholars at Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT’s Media Lab released their full study about the effects of media, particularly online media, on the last election. If there is a superstar among all the media outlets it was Breitbart News.

This is a fascinating finding considering all the money and amplification that Fox News and talk radio — led by the Big Kahuna, Rush Limbaugh — had created over the years. But it seems the right was looking for something fresh and found it in Breitbart, which, according to the study, was the single most important information hub for the right wing on the internet during the presidential campaign.

If you are still scratching your head that someone as ill-prepared and outrageously unfit as Donald Trump could get tens of millions of people to vote for his, the study explains why:

Our clearest and most significant observation is that the American political system has seen not a symmetrical polarization of the two sides of the political map, but rather the emergence of a discrete and relatively insular right-wing media ecosystem whose shape and communications practices differ sharply from the rest of the media ecosystem, ranging from the center-right to the left. Right-wing media were centered on Breitbart and Fox News, and they presented partisan-disciplined messaging, which was not the case for the traditional professional media that were the center of attention across the rest of the media sphere. The right-wing media ecosystem partly insulated its readers from nonconforming news reported elsewhere and moderated the effects of bad news for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

While we observe highly partisan and clickbait news sites on both sides of the partisan divide, especially on Facebook, on the right these sites received amplification and legitimation through an attention backbone that tied the most extreme conspiracy sites like Truthfeed, Infowars, through the likes of Gateway Pundit and Conservative Treehouse, to bridging sites like the Daily Caller and Breitbart that legitimated and normalized the paranoid style that came to typify the right-wing ecosystem in the 2016 election

Trump pulled off his electoral miracle for a lot of reasons. But the data is clear: He couldn’t have done it without Steve Bannon and Breitbart.

According to this New York Times profile of Breitbart editor Alex Marlow, the site is now suffering from growing pains, having lost some of its bigger names over the past year due to controversy over its editorial direction in the Trump era. Marlow wrings his hands over the perception that Bannon is still directing the site’s editorial line for his own nefarious purposes to wield power in the White House. He also insists Breitbart is moving beyond the hyper-partisan, bomb-throwing style that got the site where it is and made it so influential.

Perhaps the Breitbart management needs a new slogan. I hear “Fair and Balanced” is available.


Unshared history

by Tom Sullivan

Amidst the analysis of the violence in Charlottesville and the debate over removing Confederate monuments, Slate's Jamelle Bouie reviews their place in whites' sanitizing Confederate treason in defense of slavery as noble and heroic, transforming the slaveholder's revolt into the War of Northern Aggression:

Their origin is in the myth-making of the Jim Crow South as symbols of white supremacy over a “redeemed” South and building blocks in a narrative of national innocence meant to unify a divided white polity. In the myth, a figure like Robert E. Lee is transformed from the disgraced general of a brutal effort to expand an empire of bondage to the glorious figure represented in monuments like the one in Charlottesville, a valiant leader in a fight for independence. A man worthy of honor.
Etcetera, etcetera. So goes the carefully rewritten history memorialized in town squares across the South. The sitting president built his campaign, Bouie writes, on telling supporters they too were the victims of aggression by "immigrants, Muslims, and black protesters" who forced them through the oppression of political correctness "to apologize for America’s presumed greatness." Now the liberal blackguards want to remove the monuments to white superiority erected to paper over America's original sin and the rebellion that tore it asunder.

But the heart of that dispute, Bouie writes, is a question: Who is America for?
A few days before the chaos in Charlottesville, the editorial board of the Daily Progress—the city’s daily newspaper—gave its view of the turmoil around the statue of Robert E. Lee. In an unsigned piece, it blamed the upheaval on local leaders who questioned the memorial and called for its removal, labeling one such figure—the only black representative on city council—an “agitator” who is “largely responsible for the conflagration that continues to escalate.” Other voices made similar points, slamming “identity politics” for the actions of white nationalists.

But this is wrong. It presumes that these monuments were never controversial and that the narratives they represent were never contested. They were. They always have been. And the reason we have this fight is because for more than a century, too many white Americans were content with narratives built on exclusion and erasure. The question now is whether they’re still content, whether they still believe this is a white country, or whether they’re ready to share this country, and its story, with others.
Confining Who is America for? to race would be wrong as well. Preachers in churches both mega and not find in their Bibles verses they can shape to justify whatever prejudices or vices to which they are bred and/or prone. It was ever so. So too can would-be rulers of other men uncover in America's founding documents proof enough to justify enormous concentrations of wealth (theirs) and impoverishment for those too unworthy, unproductive, or generically "impure" to merit inclusion in America's political governance and economic bounty.

Who is the economy for? Or, as those who protest police violence chant, "Who do you serve? Who do you protect?" The questions will remain salient until our history — and our experience — as Americans is a shared and not an exclusive one.

Sharing is a behavior that never was much in favor in America.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

As California goes, so goes the nation (hopefully)

by digby

Amanda Marcotte took a look at the various actions being undertaken in the nation's most populous states to block Trump's odious agenda:

After Donald Trump’s shocking meltdown on Tuesday afternoon, it’s even clearer that progressives need effective strategies to blunt the effect of having a conspiracy-theory-driven, racist authoritarian in the Oval Office, backed by a congressional majority that is still too afraid to offer meaningful checks on his worst behavior. The good news is that some of the nation’s biggest cities and states remain controlled by Democrats. Activists and politicians in those states are looking for meaningful ways to throw wrenches in the Trump agenda.

At the top of that list is California, which not only has the largest population of any state but is controlled by progressive Democrats (relatively speaking) who seem ready and eager to fight Trump, especially on the issues of climate change and immigration. (New York is the next biggest state controlled by Democrats, but intra-party warfare has crippled the ability of progressives to get much done.)

California fired a significant shot across the bow at Trump on Monday, when state Attorney General Xavier Becerra declared that the state would sue the Trump administration over threats to withdraw law enforcement grants if the local and state police refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to deport immigrants. The lawsuit will be joined with an earlier one filed by the city of San Francisco.

“It’s a low blow to our men and women who wear the badge, for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Becerra said during a press conference announcing the suit. California received $28 million in law enforcement grants from the federal government this year, money it could lose if the police prioritize actual crime-fighting over federal demands that they focus their resources on deporting people.

“The government’s plan for deporting millions of people in this country is to coerce local law enforcement to be their force-multipliers,” explained Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ rights for the ACLU of California.

Pasquarella noted that most deportations currently occur because of an encounter with local law enforcement. By resisting pressure to step up efforts to persecute undocumented immigrants, she said, California can make it safe for people to “access basic services that are vital to our state and communities without fear of deportation, like schools and hospitals and libraries and health clinics.”

Some Democrats in the state are trying to take this idea even further, backing SB 54, titled the California Values Act. According to The Los Angeles Times, the bill would prohibit “state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.”

Read on.

The biggest, bluest state in the nation has a lot of firepower at its disposal. I'm proud to see that it's taking a lead in doing whatever it can to stop Trump. Whether it will succeed is unknown, but I do look forward to seeing Jeff Sessions have to publicly denounce states' rights in order to defend his authoritarian policies.

Give him a bottle and put him to bed

by digby

It's embarrassing and stupid but in a way, you can't blame him. He said much worse than that to Republican leaders right to their faces on national TV during the campaign and they all came crawling back, begging for an opportunity to kiss his ring and promising to do everything they could to help him.

Graham and Flake have voted for everything he's wanted so far, so what the downside of insulting them to entertain himself and his cult? Nothing as far as I can tell. Both Graham and Flake will be there when he needs them.

It's a tough debate"

by digby

On Tuesday night CNN reported that the WH had instructed their surrogates to back the President's line that both sides were to blame for Charlottesville. And they did:
What’s a Fox and Friends host to do when they desperately want to push President Donald Trump’s narrative the “both sides” are to blame for Charlottesville, but their guests want to talk about what’s really going on in America right now?

Abby Huntsman found out Wednesday morning, in a segment first spotted by Mediaite, when she tried to start a debate over the statues of Confederate-era slaveholders but found her guests unexpectedly agreeing with each other about how “morally bankrupt” our president has become on the issue of race.

“It’s beyond a monument. This is about hatred. This is about white supremacy,” Wendy Osefo said, representing the left. “As a mother, to hear the president of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened,” she added of the white supremacist terror attack that killed Heather Heyer, “as a black woman of two black boys, my heart bleeds. This is not talking points. This is personal. We as a nation, as a country, have to do better.”

Huntsman responded by simply echoing Trump—“there are good people on both sides of this debate”—and trying to get her representative from the right, Gianno Caldwell, to address the statue issue instead of responding to what Osefo had said.

He did not comply.

“I come today with a very heavy heart,” Caldwell said, already starting to tear up. “Last night I couldn’t sleep at all because president Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country.”

Caldwell went on, getting progressively more emotional as did Osefo.

“Strong emotions there, and, you know, it’s a tough debate,” was all Huntsman could come up with.

You'll recall that her daddy has been nominated by Trump to be the US Ambassador to Russia.



Monument to Trump's stupidity

by digby

Never say he's not interested in history:
When Donald J. Trump bought a fixer-upper golf club on Lowes Island here for $13 million in 2009, he poured millions more into reconfiguring its two courses. He angered conservationists by chopping down more than 400 trees to open up views of the Potomac River. And he shocked no one by renaming the club after himself.

But that wasn’t enough. Mr. Trump also upgraded its place in history.

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

Like many of Mr. Trump’s claims, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.

“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.

“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”

Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.) 

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly marking “The River of Blood."

In a phone interview, Mr. Trump called himself a “a big history fan” but deflected, played down and then simply disputed the local historians’ assertions of historical fact.

“That was a prime site for river crossings,” Mr. Trump said. “So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them.”

The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, where, as an official historical marker notes, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.

But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.

“How would they know that?” Mr. Trump asked when told that local historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”

Mr. Trump repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood. But he said he did not remember their names.

Then he said the historians had spoken not to him but to “my people.” But he refused to identify any underlings who might still possess the historians’ names.

“Write your story the way you want to write it,” Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. “You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”

In its small way, the plaque bears out Mr. Trump’s reputation for being preoccupied with grandeur, superlatives and his own name, but less so with verifiable facts, even when his audience is relatively small.

He believes what he wants to believe. Here was his tweet storm this morning:

You can never comparably replace a statue. Never.

Donald Trump, David Duke and Vladimir Putin

by digby

I wrote this for Salon this morning:

Most of America is probably still feeling overwhelmed by the events in Charlottesville last weekend and our president’s outrageous reaction. Media reports suggest, however, that while Donald Trump has been even more volatile and short-tempered than usual lately, he is feeling a lot better after his Tuesday press conference, having freed himself of the burden of pretending to have a moral compass.

Refusing to pass judgment on allies and supporters, no matter what they do, is a fundamental characteristic of the man and a sincere reflection of his beliefs. This is the man, after all, who refused to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for killing political rivals and members of the press when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly pressed him on it, saying, “There are a lot of killers.You think our country’s so innocent?”

So it appears that letting off that steam on Tuesday made Trump feel a little more like himself. This has been a rough couple of weeks, even by the standards of his soap opera of a presidency. Indeed, looking back it seems that Trump started to come a bit more unglued than usual right about the time he learned that special counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury in the Russia investigation and the FBI had staged an early morning search of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s home.

We still don’t know what Trump is so worried about, but he’s definitely worried about something. Thinking about nuclear war and Nazi rallies was undoubtedly a nice distraction from whatever it is that’s bothering him so much.

But whether the president knows it or not, even the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally has deep connections to the global white nationalist movement, and the epicenter of that movement is in Moscow under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Take, for instance, Matthew Heimbach, who was crowned by Think Progress as the “most important white supremacist of 2016″ and was one of the organizers of the Charlottesville event. Heimbach is the man who was arrested at a Trump campaign rally for pushing and screaming at a protester, and who later claimed in court that he believed Trump had “deputized” the crowd to defend him against the protesters.

Heimbach says, “Putin is the leader, really, of the anti-globalist forces around the world” and calls “Russia our most powerful ally” — and by “our,” he means the forces of white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center dubbed him “The Little Führer.” Heimbach is also a member of the World National Conservative Movement, a product of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM):

The manifesto of the movement claims that the world is governed by the ideology of “liberalism, multiculturalism and tolerance.” This, in the view of the activists, results in “the erosion of nations, massive migration from countries with foreign civilizational bases, falling away from religion, replacement of spirituality by materialism, impoverishment of cultures, destruction of the family and healthy moral values” through “abortion, propaganda of debauchery and acceptance of sexual perversions”. Furthermore, the manifesto refers to the “super-national institutions” such as the EU and NATO, and argues that these forces represent “the global cabal” which, in the Russian cultural discourse, is essentially a euphemistic reference to the global Jewish conspiracy. The WNCM aims to counter liberalism and globalisation by staging a “conservative revolution” and bringing far right parties to power in Western societies.

That sounds strangely familiar doesn’t it?

Heimbach isn’t the only white supremacist Trump follower with a strong connection to Russia. Two years ago, The New York Timesreported on a conference in St. Petersburg featuring a big name in right-wing hate:

Railing against same-sex marriage, immigration, New York financiers, radical Islam and globalization, among other targets, one speaker after another lauded Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin as a pillar of robust, conservative, even manly values. . . . 
The United States, as the main adversary, attracted the most hostility, but a couple of American speakers received warm applause by painting Washington as an aggressor trying to export its misguided new values. 
Jared Taylor, who runs a website called American Renaissance, said the descendants of white Europeans risked being swept away by a wave of Africans, Central Americans and Asians. The United States, which he said worshiped diversity rather than Christianity, “is the greatest enemy of tradition everywhere.”

Jared Taylor is credited with coining the term alt-right. Here he is explaining what it means:

You will recall that President Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon once described his far-right news site Breitbart as “the platform of the alt-right.”

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, another organizer of the Unite the Right gathering, has praised Russia as the “sole white power in the world.” Spencer’s wife, the Russian born Nina Kouprianova (from whom he is reportedly separated) has helped the movement by translating the influential neo-fascist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, who promotes what the Daily Beast describes as “the modern incarnation of ‘Eurasianism,’ a geopolitical theory positing Russia as the inheritor of ‘Eternal Rome.'” Dugin has ties to virtually every American white supremacist leader in one way or another.

And then there’s David Duke, the noted former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who tweeted his gratitude for Trump’s support after his raucous press conference on Tuesday and told TV interviewers in Charlottesville, “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Duke has said that Russia is the “key to white survival“ and has spent quite a bit of time there. He has ties to Dugin as well.

After all the furious activity over the weekend, The Daily Stormer, the biggest neo-Nazi web site, was kicked off its American server. Wouldn’t you know it? It landed at a Russian domain.

None of this is to say that there is a secret international white supremacist conspiracy led by Trump and Putin. After all, it isn’t much of a secret: These ties are all out in the open. The point is that this is all of a piece: Trump’s casual immorality, his admiration for Putin and his sympathy for the white supremacists in America and their “cause” are not separate issues.

It may indeed turn out that Trump or members of his campaign team colluded with the Russian government to win the election, or that he had illegal financial dealings with oligarchs and kleptocrats that made him vulnerable to blackmail. It could be both of those things or something else entirely. But regardless of his legal exposure, it’s also clear that Trump is sincerely sympathetic to white nationalists who are devoted admirers of Vladimir Putin’s white nationalism. How much he knows or understands about that connection is impossible to say. But it’s yet another link between Donald Trump and Russia, and this one may be the most disturbing of all.