August 24, 2017


"Where would we be today if not for that Civil War? How would people know how special and wonderful this country is?" - Former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson

For a strategy billed as a dramatic departure from the Obama doctrine, the only major differences Trump revealed on Monday are that he intends to leave the American public almost entirely in the dark about long-term plans, troop numbers, and timelines; and give the Pentagon a potentially dangerous amount of authority to do whatever its leaders deem militarily necessary to secure a “victory” that may just not be in the cards. -- Jonah Shepp in New York Magazine.

"He’s unhinged. It’s embarrassing. And I don’t mean for us, the media, because he went after us, but for the country. This is who we elected president of the United States? A man who is so petty that he has to go after people who he deems to be his enemy, like an imaginary friend of a 6-year-old? His speech was without thought, it was without reason. It was devoid of facts, it was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas, there was no sanity there. He was like a child blaming a sibling on something else: “He did it. I didn’t do it!” -- CNN anchor Don Lemon putting into words the feelings of millions of alarmed viewers.


"He showed us during the campaign over and over and over who he was. We saw him boast about sexual predatory behavior. We heard him attack Judge Curiel. We heard him attack the Khans. We heard him attack Mexicans. We heard him attack women over and over and over again. He showed us who he was. But Republicans so many Republicans, look, I have friends here in Miami who voted for him because he was going to change Cuba policy and he did. But that is not enough. That is not enough because the harm he is causing this country is just too great to look the other way. " -- Republican commentator Ana Navarro

Something's got to give. I don't know what, but I know 3.5 more years of this is not sustainable or healthy for the nation. -- Fox News commentator Erick Erickson @EWErickson

"I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died. They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody's freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all." -- Justin Moore, Grand Dragon for the Loyal White Knights of Ku Klux Klan.

"Nothing makes us more proud at the KKK than we see white patriots such as James Fields Jr, age 20, taking his car and running over nine communist anti-fascist, killing one [expletive]-lover named Heather Heyer. James Fields hail victory. It's men like you that have made the great white race strong and will be strong again." -- Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan N.C. recorded phone message.

“Mr. Trump's words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments. If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world. By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.” — Former CIA Director John Brennan, in a letter to CNN.

“The president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute.” -- Mitt Romney 

Bannon understands that in the game of thrones, you win or die; he doesn’t intend to die. Now that he’s been beheaded by Trump, look for him to try to become the Night King, leaving destruction in his wake. -- Ben Shapiro in the Daily Wire

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.” -- Stephen K. Bannon

“I feel jacked up. Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f**king machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.” — Stephen Bannon, quoted by the Weekly Standard


“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.” -- Mitt Romney.

“The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions.” ... Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.” -- The presidential arts and humanities committee's mass resignation letter.

“What alarms so many of us from a security perspective is that so many of the statues, the Confederate monuments, are now modern day becoming symbols and rallying points for white nationalism, for neo-Nazis, for the KKK,” -- Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson



      1. Marist Poll: Trump Underwater In The 3 States That Tipped Election

      In the 2016 presidential election, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin accounted for a combined 46 electoral votes which helped propel Donald Trump into the White House.

      Now, in each of these states, majorities disapprove of the president’s job performance. In Michigan, 36% of residents statewide approve of his job performance, and 55% disapprove.  In Pennsylvania, 33% approve of how President Trump is doing in his post, and 52% disapprove.  Among Wisconsin residents, the president’s score is similarly upside down, 33% to 56%.

      With the 2018 elections in the not too distant future, the Republican brand is at a critical point.  Majorities of residents in Michigan, 55%, Pennsylvania, 57%, and Wisconsin, 56%, have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP.  Only a plurality of Republicans and Republican leaning independents in Michigan, 48%, Pennsylvania, 44%, and Wisconsin, 46%, think President Trump is doing more to unite than divide the Republican Party. 8/20/17

      2. Putin More Trusted Around the World Than Trump

      A new Pew Research survey finds that respondents in 22 out of 36 countries trusted Russian President Vladimir Putin more than President Trump when it comes to confidence that they will do the right thing in handling global affairs. And that includes American allies like Germany, France and Japan. 8/17/17

      3. Andy Borowitz: Trump’s Horrific Spelling Reassures Nation That He Cannot Correctly Enter Nuclear Codes

      Donald J. Trump’s demonstrable inability to spell even the simplest words has reassured many that he lacks the aptitude to correctly enter the nuclear launch codes entrusted to the President of the United States.

      While millions of Americans have lost sleep over the thought of Trump being anywhere near the nuclear codes, his failure to spell such words as “heal” and “tap” suggests that mastering a more complicated sequence of letters or numbers would be well above his grade level.

      While Trump has demonstrated an ability to use simple tools, such as a television remote or a fork, Dorrinson does not foresee him mastering the nuclear codes anytime soon. “This is not exactly the system of checks and balances that the Constitution intended, but we should all be grateful for it,” he said. More at

      4. New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked

      In Europe, the recent heat wave was so extreme — with temperatures reaching 111°F (44°C), fueling wildfires and wasp attacks — it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” In the Middle East, as temperatures soared to 121°F (50°C), “birds in Kuwait have reportedly been dropping from the sky,” the International Business Times reportedFriday.

      But, new research says, we ain’t seen nothing yet. A new study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union’s science and research lab, finds that“if global temperatures rise with 4°C [7°F], a new super heat wave of 55°C [131°F] can hit regularly many parts of the world, including Europe” and the United States.

      The study looks at “humid heat waves at different warming levels” up to 4°C. A 4°C rise is what we would expect if the Trump administration’s sweeping reversal of climate policies continue to prevail, and both domestic and global climate action are undermined.


      5. The DAILY GRILL

      Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years! -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump


      The tweet referenced a false story that Trump told at rallies more than once on the campaign trail. Trump claimed that during the Moro rebellion in the Philippines between 1901 and 1913, U.S. Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim insurgents with bullets dipped in pig's blood. Trump's retelling of the myth has changed each time. -- Time Magazine


      Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You..... -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump


      Mr. President, it's not the removal of statutes that's tearing the country apart, but the divisive way you lead and WH tolerance of bigotry. -- Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiff


      6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

      Fox contributor claims that Trump "immediately eviscerated" the KKK, just like Reagan

      Tucker Carlson attacks tech companies for banning white supremacists -- Tech companies "could make this country a place you would not want to live" in.

      With Bannon gone, the anti-establishment trolls have lost their biggest White House ally and are starting to go after Pence. Prepare for the right-wing media food fight.

      Alex Jones falsely claims neo-Nazi behind Charlottesville car attack was an “Obama supporter”

      Fox's Brian Kilmeade: Not funding Trump's border wall would be "anti-American"

      Fox guest calls John McCain's vote to save health care "one of the worst acts of political cowardice" Matt Schlapp: "He's sick, we should pray for his recovery, but a lot of us are tired of him being in the Senate"

      7. From the Late Shows

      Tina Fey Educates Trump: 'Nazis Are Always Bad!':

      8. Late Night Jokes for Dems

      Speaking of statues, did you see this today? The president tweeted that removing Confederate statues takes beauty out of our parks that can never be replaced. Then he said, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cut down a bunch of trees to build a hotel and golf course.” -- Jimmy Fallon


      The dating site OkCupid is banning white supremacists. So, white supremacists will have to look for love where they usually do — family reunions. -- Jimmy Fallon

      President Trump is having a historically bad week, which he kept going strong with a string of combative tweets this morning. He makes one good point. If we’re going to start taking down every monument that pays tribute to racists, we should probably take down every building with the name “Trump” on it. -- Jimmy Kimmel

      I love how he’s trying to pretend these white supremacists are art lovers and historical preservationists. “Grab your tiki torch and swastika, Bob, they’re trying to take our sculptures away.” -- Jimmy Kimmel

      We haven’t heard much about Russia lately, but this is interesting. They did an international survey, and most countries now have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than Donald Trump. Out of 37 countries, 22 of them said they have more faith in Putin. Other countries are now watching “Rocky IV” and hoping Drago wins. -- Jimmy Kimmel

      Meanwhile, the vice president, Mike Pence, cut his trip to Central America short to come back to Washington with all this going on. He was in the White House today measuring the drapes. -- Jimmy Kimmel

      There were a lot of protestors at a rally today in Phoenix attended by President Trump and Vice President Pence. Things got awkward when it turned out that the "Impeach Trump" chants were being led by Mike Pence. -- Conan O’Brien

      President Trump tweeted this morning that he’s “sad” over the removal of our “beautiful statues.” Of course, Trump may just be sticking up for his fellow bronze-colored symbols of hate. -- Conan O’Brien

      The American Cancer Society has decided not to host its charity event at Trump’s resort, Mar-a-Lago. You know it’s not a good sign for Trump when he’s considered too toxic for cancer. -- Conan O’Brien

      Trump thinks these 100-year-old Confederate monuments are beautiful. Which is weird. Usually Trump doesn’t call anything beautiful if it’s over 30 years old. -- James Corden

      “There’s literally no difference between Robert E. Lee and George Washington” — that’s a quote from Donald Trump. Literally no difference, except there’s literally a difference, like literally their names are different. You literally don’t know what literally means. -- James Corden

      9. Democrats Could Win 50 House Seats In 2018

      As Democrats look to the horizon in 2018, they think they see a distant tsunami forming in their favor. Trump has dreadful approval ratings; Democrats are dominating generic ballot tests, which ask voters which party they want to control Congress; and presidents almost always lose a slew of seats in their first midterm elections.”

      The last time a president went into his first midterm election as unpopular as Trump is now was in 1946, when Harry Truman lost 55 House seats. The Senate may be out of reach but Democrats say they can almost feel the House Speaker’s gavel in their hands. -- NBC News

      10. Trump appointee has argued that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia

      Sam Clovis, President Trump’s pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, “has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia.

      Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 in his capacity as a talk radio host, political activist, and briefly as a candidate for US Senate in Iowa. His nomination has drawn criticism from Senate Democrats, who argue his lack of scientific background makes him unqualified for the USDA post overseeing science. 8/21/17

      11. "Runway" — Amy McGrath for Congress (KY-6)

      12. Bannon Exit Won’t End White House Chaos That Comes From the Top

      Stephen Bannon’s ouster rids the White House of someone who fed off chaos, obsessed over his own image and sowed conflict among top aides to the president.

      The problem is that many of Bannon’s most-damaging traits were merely an amplification of the man who continues to sit in the Oval Office.”

      Thirty weeks into his presidency, President Donald Trump has made clear that he’s unwilling or unable to abandon a management approach that pits staff against one another, openly antagonizes outside allies, and leaves little room for the painstaking work of governance.” 8/19/17


      13. Trump’s Lies

      List of false and misleading claims tops 1,000: The Washington Post fact checker has been tracking President Trump’s false or misleading claims for more than seven months. Somewhere around Aug. 4th or 5th, he broke 1,000 claims, and the tally now stands at 1,057.“That’s an impressive number by any standard. In fact, we are a little late with this update because we have simply been overwhelmed keeping track of the deluge of claims made by the president in the later part of July.” 8/22/17

      Fact-checking President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Phoenix:

      14. Trump Campaign Apparently Met with Russian Spy

      A month and a half ago, the New York Times obtained emails in which Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting in Trump Tower with Russian officials who were promising him sensitive information, on his father’s opponent, that would help the Trump campaign. A few days later, it emerged that the meeting also included Rinat Akhmetshin, a figure whose name was not included in the first stories about the meeting, but who is a key figure in the meeting because he is almost certainly a Russian spy.

      Of all the facts in the Russia scandal, this one seems the most underplayed. Email hacking is one of Akhmetshin’s basic methods of operation. The Trump campaign met with a Russian spy who is known for pulling the exact kind of crime that was committed in this case.

      15. Poll: Trump Supporters Think Whites, Christians Face Discrimination

      Asked what racial group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 45% of Trump voters say it’s white people followed by 17% for Native Americans with 16% picking African Americans, and 5% picking Latinos. Asked what religious group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 54% of Trump voters says it’s Christians followed by 22% for Muslims and 12% for Jews.”

      16. Trump sides with the lobby that fought the national parks ban on bottled water.

      The Trump administration has ended a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks that was aimed at easing plastic pollution and the huge amount of waste being recycled.

      The decision came three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented one of the largest water bottlers in the United States, Nestlé Waters. Nestlé distributes the Deer Park brand.

      17. McConnell’s Approval Sinks to New Low

      A new Public Policy Polling survey finds 74% of Kentuckians disapprove of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) job performance, while only 18% approve.

      Amazingly, 60% of Kentucky Republicans actually approve of Donald Trump’s job performance. 8/21/17

      18. GOP Lawmaker Suggests Obama Staged Charlottesville

      Idaho state Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R) said that he’s doubling down on the claim that it is “completely plausible” that Democratic officials staged the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, to smear President Trump.

      He added: “Obama was a community organizer before he was the president of the United States… I still do think it’s plausible.” 8/22/17


      19. Tiffany Trump Vacation Cost $117K In Car Rentals

      The State Department spent over $100,000 on car rentals during First Daughter Tiffany Trump’s recent vacation in Italy.


      1. LA Times Editorial: Enough is Enough

      These are not normal times.

      The man in the White House is reckless and unmanageable, a danger to the Constitution, a threat to our democratic institutions.

      Last week some of his worst qualities were on display: his moral vacuity and his disregard for the truth, as well as his stubborn resistance to sensible advice. As ever, he lashed out at imaginary enemies and scapegoated others for his own failings. Most important, his reluctance to offer a simple and decisive condemnation of racism and Nazism astounded and appalled observers around the world.

      With such a glaring failure of moral leadership at the top, it is desperately important that others stand up and speak out to defend American principles and values. This is no time for neutrality, equivocation or silence. Leaders across America — and especially those in the president’s own party — must summon their reserves of political courage to challenge President Trump publicly, loudly and unambiguously.

      Enough is enough.



      2. Margaret Sullivan: This week should put the nail in the coffin for ‘both sides’ journalism

      He’s the false-equivalency president.

      During the 2016 presidential campaign, the national news media’s misguided sense of fairness helped equate the serious flaws of Hillary Clinton with the disqualifying evils of Donald Trump.

      “But her emails . . .” goes the ironic line that aptly summarizes too much of the media’s coverage of the candidates. In short: Clinton’s misuse of a private email server was inflated to keep up with Trump’s racism, sexism and unbalanced narcissism — all in the name of seeming evenhanded.

      Elected with the help of false equivalency, Trump is now creating some of his own.

      If objectivity is a “view from nowhere,” it may be out of date. What’s never out of date, though, is clear truth-telling.

      Journalists should indeed stand for some things. They should stand for factual reality. For insistence on what actually happened, not revisionism. For getting answers to questions that politicians don’t want to answer. 8/16/17

      3. Maureen Dowd: Trump, Neo-Nazis and the Klan

      My dad, a war veteran and decorated police hero, used to divide men into men and “weasels.”

      When Trump buoyed the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis who had marched in Charlottesville with Tiki torches, Confederate flags, Nazi slogans, swastikas and banners reading “Jews will not replace us” — even as one of their leaders told a Vice News reporter how disgusting it was that Trump’s “beautiful” blond daughter was married to a Jewish man — the president made it clear which category he is in.

      For all the things he thinks make him a tough guy — his macho posturing, his Twitter bullying, his swaggering and leering talk, his vulgar references to his anatomy — he’s no tough guy if he can’t stand up to the scum of the earth. He followed the roar of the crowd to dark, violent places, becoming ever more crazed and isolated and self-destructive, egged on by the egotist and erstwhile White House strategist Steve Bannon but really led by his own puerile and insatiable ego.

      Donald Trump has shown a fatal inability to listen to his better angels and stay on the side of the angels.

      Or, as my father would say, he’s a weasel.


      4. John Avalon: Trump’s Immoral Equivalence Between George Washington and Robert E. Lee

      President Trump can’t stop sticking his finger in self-inflicted wounds. But while his narcissism makes him numb to the pain he causes, the country suffers.

      Today’s presidential Twitter tantrum praised the beauty of Confederate statues celebrating Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. “Who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?” the president tweeted. “So foolish.”

      The difference between the Founding Fathers and Confederate generals is that one group created our nation and the other tore it apart, killing some 600,000 Americans in the process.

      George Washington dedicated his life to securing our liberty and uniting our young nation. His core insight was that our independence as a nation was inexorably connected to our inter-dependence as a people. In his farewell address, Washington warned us about the dangers of demagogues exploiting partisan divisions to subvert our national unity under the banner of separatism paraded as pure Americanism. He called those men “pretended patriots” – and their modern inheritors seem to make up a significant portion of Donald Trump’s base.


      5. NY Times Editorial: The Failing Trump Presidency

      With each day, President Trump offers fresh proof that he is failing the office that Americans entrusted to him. The rolling disaster of his presidency accelerated downhill last week with a news conference on Tuesday at which he seemed determined to sow racial strife in a nation desperate for a unifying vision.

      The question for Mr. Trump’s remaining supporters, is not political but moral. It is whether they will continue to follow a standard-bearer who is alienating most of the country by embracing extremists. Yes, other Republican leaders, while claiming the mantle of Abraham Lincoln, have subtly and not so subtly courted bigots since the days of Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy.” But Mr. Trump has now made that subtext his text. Last week, he stripped away the pretense and the camouflage. In deciding to split Americans apart rather than draw them together, he abandoned the legacy of Lincoln for the legacy of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. He chose to summon not America’s better angels, but its demons.

      6. The Economist: Donald Trump has no grasp of what it means to be president

      This is a dangerous moment. America is cleft in two. After threatening nuclear war with North Korea, musing about invading Venezuela and equivocating over Charlottesville, Mr Trump still has the support of four-fifths of Republican voters. Such popularity makes it all the harder for the country to unite.

      For Republicans in Congress the choice should be clearer. Many held their noses and backed Mr Trump because they thought he would advance their agenda. That deal has not paid off. Mr Trump is not a Republican, but the solo star of his own drama. By tying their fate to his, they are harming their country and their party. His boorish attempts at plain speaking serve only to poison national life. Any gains from economic reform—and the booming stockmarket and low unemployment owe more to the global economy, tech firms and dollar weakness than to him—will come at an unacceptable price.

      Republicans can curb Mr Trump if they choose to. Rather than indulging his outrages in the hope that something good will come of it, they must condemn them. The best of them did so this week. Others should follow.


      7. Jack Shafer: Week 13: Hounded on All Sides, a Cornered President Snarls

      If and when the American Kennel Club gets around to assigning a new breed for dogs that resemble President Donald Trump—portly with short paws and a chow chow mane of Clorox blond?—it should not neglect to single out the breed’s primary behavioral trait: Trump is what dog handlers would call a “fear-biter,” not a naturally fierce or aggressive hound, but one that snaps and chomps when frightened.

      A panicky and snarling Trump toothed his way down to bone this week, even burning chief strategist Steve Bannon in a Farewell Friday pyre. Trump’s ostensible topic of the week was white supremacists, with whom he threw in at a news conference and via a tweet triptych. But the intensity of his fury could not easily be explained. Who could have known he felt this strongly about Southern “heritage” beyond the casual racism he drools from time to time? As with canine rage, Trump’s fulmination was probably a matter of transference, with some other trauma setting him off. You’d be swamped with generalized wrath, too, if Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller were slithering through your prodigious paper trail as they are Trump’s.

      8. Maya Kosoff: Trump Goes Off-script In Hourlong Public Meltdown

      After walking on stage at the Phoenix Convention Center to “God Bless the U.S.A.” for what was, effectively, a 2020 campaign rally, Donald Trump repeatedly ditched his teleprompter and went off-script as he ranted about being mistreated by the media in the wake of Charlottesville, relentlessly attacked an array of enemies including both of Arizona’s Republican senators, and portrayed himself as the true victim of a violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters that left one woman dead. Journalists and other social-media commentators watched, stunned, as he proceeded to spend the rest of his hour-long speech unloading on the mainstream press, praising a CNN pundit who was fired for tweeting a Nazi slogan, and re-litigating his entire response to Charlottesville, line by line, in what has become a hallmark of the Trump presidency: a full-on public meltdown.

      With a captive, cheering audience of thousands before him, Trump reveled in the opportunity to vent, after a long summer of political crises, and to set the record straight. “What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America,” he said, blaming the “thugs” and the “dishonest media” for the violence in Virginia. This statement drew nearly a minute of boos from the rabid crowd. “I strongly condemned the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the K.K.K. They know it because they were all there,” he said, referring to the media. “I thought I’d take just a second and do this, because you know where my heart is, to show how damn dishonest these people are.”

      The president reserved a few positive words for his friends in the conservative media—the only truthful people, he claimed, in a country full of fake news. Trump sang the praises of Fox and Friends and “honest guy” Sean Hannity, specifically, unlike the rest of the mainstream press. “These are dishonest people. They are bad people. The only people giving a platform to hate. Look back there! Those live red lights, they’re turning those lights off fast,” Trump said, apparently referring to the media bullpen at the convention center. “Like CNN. It does not want its falling viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight.”


      9. Simon Maloy: Trump is emboldening racists. This will end disastrously.

      Donald Trump has always been at his worst when race and bigotry are at issue. As a private citizen and as a presidential candidate, Trump was brusquely racist — he led the insane birther crusade against Barack Obama, he attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel simply for being of Mexican descent, and he launched his presidential run by calling Mexican immigrants rapists. But Tuesday's press conference was different because Trump now inhabits the presidency. He brought the full weight and prestige of the office to bear in telling the country and the world that violent neo-Nazis are no worse than the people who protest them.

      Behavior like this from the president is radicalizing. It gives a shot in the arm to the worst elements of the extreme right and it emboldens racists and wannabe fascists to emerge from their darkened recesses. More neo-Nazi rallies means more counter-protests, more volleys of racial slurs, and more militia members decked out in tactical gear with assault rifles slung across their chests. These people show up to rallies spoiling for a fight, and now they know that when violence breaks out, the president (and his supporters in conservative media) will help them out with a little "both sides" sleight of hand. This just breeds more conflict and more violence, which is precisely the opposite of what a president should be doing.

      This aggressive exploitation of racial grievance is morally repugnant, but it's also central to Trump's character and his politics. It is the rotten core of his presidency and it will taint everything Trump touches for as long as he holds the office. Nothing good will come of this.


      10.  John Cassidy: Donald Trump’s Crisis of Legitimacy

      Even assuming that Trump will survive this latest horror show, as he has survived many previous ones, his Presidency will be further diminished and tarnished. Outside the arena of national security, the Presidency is a weak office; to get anything substantial done, the person in the Oval Office has to put together coalitions, bringing along powerful people and interest groups. As the health-care fiasco demonstrated, Trump wasn’t very good at that stuff to begin with—forgive the understatement—and he has just greatly compounded his difficulties. By dint of his pigheadedness, or prejudice, or both, he has moved onto political ground that makes it virtually impossible for other people in influential positions, such as C.E.O.s, or the heads of other organizations, or senior government officials, or celebrities, or even his own Cabinet members, to stand with him, or even to be seen to coöperate with him. That is what happens when a President throws away his own legitimacy.

      Trump may have convinced himself that he doesn’t need political allies, or corporate advisers, or anybody else—that he can bully his opponents into submission and succeed through simple force of will. Maybe he thinks that invoking the memories of Lee and Jackson, the Southern battlefield commanders, will help his cause. It won’t: the fate of the Confederacy was settled more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and right now, Trump’s Presidency seems headed to a similarly ignominious ending.


      11. Jonathan Chait: Steve Bannon’s Talent for Destruction

       “Devil’s Bargain,” Josh Green’s fine history of Bannon’s role in the campaign, makes clear that the chief strategist’s essential work lay in his attacks on Hillary Clinton. That was what won the presidency for Trump. And that, of course, is a skill made obsolete through Trump’s victory.

      Bannon’s work in the anti-Clinton complex turned out to shape the battlefield for the campaign in precisely the way he predicted. The news media relentlessly cast the Democratic front-runner as secretive and corrupt, to the point where she was almost no longer the front-runner at all. Her favorable ratings were bound to fall when she returned from a non-political role as secretary of State to candidate taking live bullets. But the scope of the fall was shocking.

      The rousing success of Bernie Sanders was largely a product of Clinton’s corrupt reputation. Polling found there was no ideological difference between Clinton voters and Sanders voters. His support was based on disgust with the process.

      Bannon understood the power of anti-Clintonism as both a sword and a shield. The relentless attacks on the Democrat continuously shored up the Republican base, even in the face of devastating revelations like the audio tape of Trump boasting about his habit of sexual assault. And it served just as well to depress the Democratic base, much of which was never able to overcome the glum aura that had clung to its candidate.

      12. Charles M. Blow: Failing All Tests of the Presidency

      We are leaderless. America doesn’t have a president. America has a man in the White House holding the spot, and wreaking havoc as he waits for the day when a real president arrives to replace him.

      Donald Trump is many things — most of them despicable — but the leader of a nation he is not. He is not a great man. Hell, he isn’t even a good man.

      Donald Trump is a man of flawed character and a moral cavity. He cannot offer moral guidance because he has no moral compass. He is too small to see over his inflated ego.

      Trump has personalized the presidency in unprecedented ways — making every battle and every war about his personal feelings. Did the person across the street or around the world say good or bad things about him? Does the media treat him fairly? Is someone in his coterie of corruption outshining him or casting negative light on him?

      His interests center on the self; country be damned.

      America is functioning, barely, without a functioning president. Trump is failing every test of the office. How frightening is that?


      13. Matt Taibbi: Why Trump Can't Quit the Alt-Right

      Life in the Trump era is like the president's favorite medium, Twitter: an endless scroll of half-connected little anger Chiclets rapidly spinning us all into madness and conflict, with no end in sight.

      This is Trump's legacy. Because of his total inability to concentrate or lead, he will likely never do anything meaningful with the real governmental power he possesses – if he had a tenth of the managerial skills of Hitler, we'd be in impossibly deep shit right now. But as an enabler of behavior, as a stoker of arguments and hardener of resentments, he has no equal. Under Trump, racists become more racist, the woke necessarily become more woke, and areas of compromise among all quickly dwindle and disappear. He has us arguing about things that weren't even questions a few minutes ago, like, are Nazis bad?

      Trump has shown, once again, that his power to bring out the worst in people is limitless. And we should know by now that he's never finished, never beaten. Historically, he's most dangerous when he's at his lowest. And he's never been lower than now. 8/21/17

      14. David Faris: Why Trump's Afghanistan plan will end in utter failure

      Last night, President Trump gathered the national family together around the dinner table on the pretense that he would deliver urgent and sober news about America's strategy in Afghanistan, and instead basically sent us to bed without dinner. Rather than a detailed policy vision for extricating the country from its Afghanistan adventure, he offered platitudes ("We will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily") and declined to clue the American people in on this big new strategy he's decided on with, as he would put it, "his generals." But in all likelihood, we are headed toward another disastrous troop surge that will end the way every previous attempt to "win" in Afghanistan has ended: in failure.

      It was a curious speech, delivered soberly by Telemprompter Trump. It was full of the president's trademark bluster, in which he describes international relations in terms best reserved for contractors and their clients. India, he claimed, "makes billions of dollars" trading with the United States and so he wants them to "help us more in Afghanistan," as if trade flows somehow obligate states to clean up our imperial messes. He argued that "we have been paying billions of dollars" to Pakistan, although what exactly we have bought with that "payment" is not clear. (The word the president is looking for is "aid.")

      The meat of the speech, though, was about America's forever war in Afghanistan, a conflict he says that Americans are weary of. It was also a conflict that Trump himself was rabidly opposed to as a private citizen and as a presidential candidate. But at this point his about-faces on policy are unsurprising, and hardly the man's worst flaw. This time he even had the decency to acknowledge his change of heart rather than pretending he was in favor of a troop surge all along. "My original instinct was to pull out," he said.

      For once, his instincts were correct.


      15. Paul Waldman:Who still believes that Trump will build a big, beautiful wall and that Mexico will pay for it?

      There was no single promise that was more important to Donald Trump's candidacy than the wall. It wasn't just about stopping undocumented immigration; instead, it was a symbolic vessel for everything Trump was about and would bring to his supporters. It would keep out the foreigners whom he said were stealing their jobs, killing their children, and transforming their communities. It would make America great again, like it was before all this multiculturalism that makes you feel alienated from your own home. It would hold back a threatening, unsettling, changing world.

      And the masterstroke was his promise to make Mexico pay for it. The money didn't matter; the point was domination. He would make Mexico kneel before us, then dip into their own pockets to pay for their humiliation. Everyone would know who was standing tall and who had been defeated. The man who spoke endlessly about how other countries are getting the better of us and laughing at us would finally allow us to hold our heads up high and feel like victors again.