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Friday, August 18, 2017

Bannon out at White House

Bannon out at White House
By Jonathan Easley and Jordan Fabian - 08-18-17 12:52 PM EDT

President Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, is leaving the White House, a stunning turn of events for the man who had been the caretaker and champion of Trump's populist campaign message.

His departure is another sign that new chief of staff John Kelly has broad authority to clean house in a West Wing that has been hobbled by infighting and leaks.

"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement.

Trump this year has fired two other aides who helped him win the White House - Reince Priebus and Michael Flynn - but the departure of Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, is perhaps the most significant change yet.

The move came as a shock to Bannon's allies inside and outside the White House, who were certain that Trump would stand by his loyal chief strategist.

One senior administration official said the president had been inundated in recent days from "high-level Republican donors and activists" pleading with the president to keep Bannon on.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) had spoken to Trump this week, urging him not to fire Bannon, GOP sources said. Meadows argued that Bannon was helpful to conservatives' agenda.

"Steve Bannon was integral to Trump's victory last November," said one senior administration official. "The president built his own platform, but Steve translated it into policy. He's the man that most embodies the base outside of the president. He's the highest-level expression of the platform that got the president elected, and the president knows that."

The president had signaled Bannon stood on shaky ground Tuesday when he was asked by a reporter if he still had confidence in his chief strategist.

"We'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon," Trump responded, adding that while he believes he is a "good person," Bannon "came on very late" to the campaign.

Bannon did not attend a national security meeting on Afghanistan with Trump at Camp David on Friday, even though he had been involved in the debate over troop levels.

The controversial strategist is adored by Trump's base of supporters, who had warned there would be backlash among grassroots conservatives if he were cut loose.

But Bannon had few allies left in the White House following the departure of Priebus as chief of staff. The two men had formed a strategic partnership out of political convenience but had become genuine allies.

But Bannon's worldview is at odds with many of Trump's senior aides, and he clashed with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Their feuds would often spill into the press, exacerbating tensions in the White House.

Bannon was already suspected of leaking to reporters about his political enemies, and a surprising on-the-record interview he gave this week to left-wing site American Prospect reinforced that notion.

In that interview, Bannon swiped at Cohn and undercut the president's military threats directed at North Korea.

In the days that followed, Bannon, who rarely spoke on the record with the press, gave several more high-profile interviews, giving the appearance that he was seeking to go out on his own terms.

In one interview, Bannon encouraged the president to engage in the culture wars over race. Shortly after, Trump inflamed the controversy around the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., by defending Confederate monuments that critics say should be taken down.

With Priebus gone, Bannon was at the mercy of Kelly, a retired Marine general who has been running a tight ship and is eager to rid the White House of drama.

Bannon may have become a political liability in the wake of the Charlottesville protests.

Democrats cast Bannon, who once described Breitbart as "the platform for the alt-right," as one of the "racists in the White House." Pressure had been growing on Trump to cut ties with his nationalist wing, which also includes advisers Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller.

Even some Republicans called for Bannon to go, calling him a divisive figure who had muddied the president's authority on international issues.

But Bannon is also a conduit to Trump's base. His departure could provoke a backlash among Trump's core supporters, who are fearful that the president is now being advised by liberals and who they refer to as "globalists" like Cohn, Kushner and McMaster.

Breitbart News has been hammering McMaster in particular, who in recent weeks successfully rid the National Security Council of several of Bannon's allies.

"Steve's allies in the populist nationalist movement are ready to ride to the gates of hell with him against the West Wing Democrats and globalists like [national security aide] Dina Powell, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster," said one Bannon ally.

"They should all be very worried that they're efforts to undermine the president will be exposed. If they think what's happened with Steve is rough, wait until they see what he does outside the White House."

-- Scott Wong contributed.

-- This story was updated at 1:12 p.m.

America's Racial History in Context

Tear 'Em Down: CNN Commentator Says Slave Owner George Washington Has To Go Too

Matt Vespa

Only those who are so-called “woke” (I just threw up in my mouth) are deserving of statues in American history. That’s what CNN commentator Angela Rye said during a panel discussion with CNN’s Kate Bolduan. As the nation descends into chaos concerning political commentary over the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia that left scores of people injured and one woman dead, we’re on the discussion of statues. White nationalists descended into the city last Saturday to supposedly protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Far left counter protesters arrived and skirmishes broke out. It culminated when a white nationalist drove into counter demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

Now, we have more cities debating the removal of Confederate statues. Katie wrote how a solid majority of Americans oppose the erasure of American history. Yet, with Rye’s remarks, we now know that this is about removing anyone who they feel were terrible in our history. Washington owned slaves; he has to go. Jefferson owned slaves; he has to go. Oh, we can of course learn about the founding of our nation in classrooms, but by God—when you erect a statue to the men who founded this great country, that’s crossing the line. The Washington Free Beacon clipped the insanity, where Rye gets into a bit of an exchange with Daily Beast’s John Avlon, who said Rye was feeding into the Trump White House’s talking points on the matter. He’s not wrong [emphasis mine]:

George Washington was a slave owner, and we need to call slave owners out for what they are, whether we think they were protecting American freedom or not," Rye said. "He wasn't protecting my freedom. My ancestors weren't deemed human beings to him."

"So to me, I don't care if it's a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue. They all need to come down," Rye said.

Rye added that Americans need to teach other about these figures "so we do not repeat [history], because we are very close to repeating it right now."


"Yeah, Angela, you've got a problem here," Avlon interjected.

"I'm not finished, John," Rye said.

"You're feeding into Steve Bannon and Trump's talking points," Avlon continued.

"No, no, no. But I'm not, but I'm not, but I'm not, John," Rye said, speaking over Avlon.

"And I'm gonna finish my point," she said. "I'm not feeding into white supremacy; I'm calling out white supremacy for what it is. And sometimes what it is, John, are blind spots. Sometimes what it is, is not acknowledging that this country was built upon a very violent past that resulted in death, and the raping, and the killing of my ancestors."

Rye said she was not going to make a distinction between George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

"So I'm not going to allow us to say it's OK for a Robert E. Lee but not a George Washington [statue]," Rye said. "We need to call it what it is."

"But I'm not giving any deference to George Washington or Robert E. Lee," she added.

Slavery was a horrible institution. We fought our bloodiest war to end it. Yet, these were the times our Founding Fathers lived in. the founded this country. They drafted the documents that said our people were endowed with God-given rights from which this nation would be based upon; a totally revolutionary concept to the nations created around monarchies, ethnic groups, and landed aristocracies of Europe. This is just another instance of American progressives engaging in their favorite pastime: erasing American history and slamming our founding. So, let it be known that this isn’t just about the Confederate monuments, which by the way, are also part of American history. Our nation has had many low points. We have progressed, we have gotten better, and yes, more work needs to be done in a lot of areas. But no one knew that statues existed. No one really cares. Yet, now that we have the legions of the politically correct poisoning our society, they want everything that they feel triggered in American history to go. As many have said about this group, there is no neutral party option; they will make you care. The removal of Confederate statues is the backdoor to this nonsense. 

Washington was our first president, but we can’t have statues? Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, but we can’t have statues? Sorry, liberals—you’re not raising Monticello or Mount Vernon to the ground. This debate has gone off the rails and this trainwreck isn’t done yet.

Progressives Gone Wild? Abraham Lincoln Statue Vandalized in Chicago

Matt Vespa

All statues must go—even ones erected to the president who led the effort to abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. The president who kept this country together during one of the most turbulent time in our history. He’s our greatest president full stop.  And yet, someone decided to vandalize Abraham Lincoln in Chicago (via NBC Chicago):

An Abraham Lincoln was damaged and burned in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood late Wednesday, Ald. Ray Lopez said.

The statue was found burned near 69th Street and Wolcott, authorities said.

"What an absolute disgraceful act of vandalism," Lopez wrote on Facebook along with an image of the charred structure. He encouraged anyone who has information on what happened to contact police or his office "immediately."

The statue, a bust of Lincoln, was erected by Phil Bloomquist on Aug. 31, 1926.

It is one of many that have been vandalized across the country in wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and the president's comments that followed.

On Tuesday, someone vandalized the Lincoln Memorial, writing "F--- law" in red spray paint on a pillar at the monument.

Was because people didn’t care? People who don’t know history? It really doesn’t matter. At the same time, liberals do have a penchant for forgetting history, or using it for political purposes when it suits their aims. In this case, everyone just realized that Confederate statues were bad, bad things, despite them being in plain view of the public for decades. It’s a way to paint President Trump and Republicans as racist. In other ways, it’s just another day that ends in “y.” It also shows that not even Lincoln is safe from this insanity. 

"NAACP Leader Defends Confederate Monuments: Statues Not A Problem"

Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee (YouTube Screenshot)
NAACP Leader Defends Confederate Monuments: Statues Not A Problem
By Ryan Saavedra
17 Aug 2017, 10:30 PM

One of the leaders in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) spoke out against the removal of Confederate statues, saying they are a part of history.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at City Hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, local NAACP chapter president Esther Lee expressed her frustration with the current state of affairs in the U.S., WFMZreported.

“I think it’s all senseless. All senseless,” Lee said. “You know, we’re 108 years in as NAACPers and we might think things would improve, but they do not. You know we still have this factor about black and white.”

Lee continued talking about Confederate statues, noting that it is pointless to take them down.

“You know that’s history,” Lee said. “That was in that point in time. You can’t eliminate what history is. So I disapprove with young people localpulling down those statues.”

Lee put the tragic events of Charlottesville into perspective by pointing out that lives were lost – all because some people didn’t want to look at an object anymore.

“A young woman died. Two officers were murdered in a plane crash and all for what? Because somebody in their mind decided, ‘we don’t need to look at that anymore.’ It shouldn’t be.”

In response to the events in Charlottesville, progressives have called for the removal of Confederate statues around the country.

President Trump responded with a series of tweets today explaining that history cannot be erased.

On Wednesday, authorities in Chicagofounda statue of Abraham Lincoln – the president that ended slavery – that was severely burned.

Follow Ryan Saavedra on Twitter

"CNN Commentator Accuses Trump Of Being A ‘White Supremacist’"

CNN Commentator Accuses Trump Of Being A ‘White Supremacist’
By Peter Hasson
17 Aug 2017, 11:06 PM

CNN commentator Symone Sanders accused President Trump of being a “white supremacist”Thursday nightfor his defense of Confederate statues and monuments.

“For a long time I never actually thought Donald Trump was a racist,” claimed Sanders, who was previously the national press secretary for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. (RELATED: CNN Commentator Says George Washington And Thomas Jefferson Statues ‘Need To Come Down’)

“Today when the president was tweeting again about culture and tripling down on these statues, something just clicked in my brain. It made me think that not only is Donald Trump a white supremacist sympathizer, I think he identifies with this notion of white supremacy, this notion of preservation of white culture,” she said. “And does that make him white supremacist? Yeah. Does that essentially make him a racist? I absolutely believe so.”

“And I have been hesitant to say that because I think words matter and they’re really important. I don’t like to throw the word racist around. I don’t like to throw lots of different kinds of words like that around,” Sanders claimed. “Today I’m at the point, much like the guest you just had, the President of the United States is a racist. We have put a white supremacist in the White House.”

The Associated Press, it’s worth noting, defines “white supremacy” as “The racist belief that whites are superior to justify political, economic and social suppression of nonwhite people and other minority groups.”


Trump resurrects pig's blood myth after Barcelona attack

Trump resurrects pig's blood myth after Barcelona attack
By Jordan Fabian - 08-17-17 15:15 PM EDT

President Trump resurrected a dubious story about a renowned U.S. Army general's handling of Muslim insurgents following Thursday's terror attack in Barcelona, Spain.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" he tweeted.

During the 2016 presidential race, Trump frequently told a tale of how Pershing had Muslim prisoners in the Philippines executed with bullets coated in pig's blood to discourage rebellion against American rule.

Similar rumors have been floating around the internet for years, but the website PolitiFact gave Trump's claim "pants on fire" - the rating it gives the "most ridiculous falsehoods."

Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, said his team knew the story was a myth even when Trump told it in 2016 but decided to tell it at rallies anyway.

"It's not about that," he told The Washington Post in June 2016 following his ouster. "Look, it's an analogy."

Trump's inflammatory Thursday tweet comes during a week he is facing fierce criticism over his response to last weekend's deadly violence at a white supremacist rally Charlottesville, Va.

The president initially failed to single out neo-Nazis, the KKK and other groups that fomented the violence. After issuing a specific condemnation a day later, Trump said Tuesday that there is "blame on both sides."

The president explained his hesitance to blame white supremacists, telling reporters, "Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts."

One person was killed and 19 were injured when a car rammed into a group of counterprotesters during the rally. The alleged driver was a 20-year-old man with ties to white supremacist groups.

In Spain, authorities said at least 12 people were killed and more than 80 were injured when a van plowed into a crowd of people Thursday in a popular tourist area in Barcelona.

One suspect was arrested in the terror attack, a Moroccan citizen who was residing legally in Spain.

Trump made a more conventional statement condemning the Barcelona attack roughly half an hour before tweeting about Pershing.

"The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!" he tweeted.