Sorry, Folks: We Can’t Say ‘Climate Change’ Anymore


Sorry, Folks: We Can’t Say ‘Climate Change’ Anymore

Emily Monaco      August 15, 2017

When we swapped out the term “global warming” for “climate change,” it was in an effort to be more precise with what exactly was happening with the planet. The same can’t be said for the USDA’s new directive to scrap mention of climate change in favor of “weather extremes.”

This new tendency, uncovered by The Guardian via a series of staff emails at the National Resources Conservation Service, is a clear departure from (correctly) placing blame on humans and the agriculture industry for changes in the world’s climate.

It all began in January, when Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the NRCS, wrote in an email to senior employees, “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority is not consistent with that of the incoming administration. Namely, that priority is climate change. Please visit with your staff and make them aware of this shift in perspective within the executive branch.”

Just a few weeks after, in mid-February, Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, listed several terms to be avoided in an email: not only was “climate change” to be replaced by “weather extremes,” but “climate change adaption” was to be swapped out for “resilience to weather extremes” and “reduce greenhouse gases” changed to “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.”

Not everyone was happy about the change. One NRCS employee wrote in a July 5 email that they would “prefer to keep the language as is” to maintain the “scientific integrity of the work,” and the NRDC, reporting on these changes, noted that the new euphemisms forced scientists to “lose any reference to a changing climate, greenhouse gases, and carbon pollution (and heat, it appears) and substitute them with fuzzy language that doesn’t convey the urgency of a global environmental, health, and social threat, nor agriculture’s role in it.”

Senators were also reasonably upset about the change, including Michigan Senator Debbie Stabelow, ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“Censoring the agency’s scientists and natural resource professionals as they try to communicate these risks and help producers adapt to a changing climate does a great disservice to the men and women who grow the food, fuel, and fiber that drive our economy, not to mention the agency’s civil servants themselves,” Stabenow wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “This censorship makes the United States less competitive, less food secure, and puts our rural families and their communities at risk.”

Reports of these changes with regard to language concerning climate change drew immediate repudiation from the USDA. Spokesman Tim Murtaugh denied the existence of such a directive, and for now, the NRCS website confirms this, retaining several mentions of climate change.

But this is only the latest way in which governmental talk of climate change has been dumbed down. Mentions of the dangers of climate change have been removed from government websites including those of the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. The government also announced in June that it would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement, due to the fact that the climate accord, which has been ratified by 159 parties around the world, is a “bad deal” for the United States.

Whatever we call it, climate change is a reality, as a recently leaked federal report drafted by scientists from 13 federal agencies confirms. The report, run by the New York Times earlier this month, places human activity at the center of these environmental issues, noting that the average temperatures in the United States have risen rapidly and drastically over the past 40 years to such an extent that even if changes are made now, the damage is irreversible.

“It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited,” reports the Times.

“It’s a fraught situation,” says Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University who was not involved in the study. “This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it.”

Of course, to handle it, we need to be able to talk about it. This is the impetus behind the suit of several government agencies, including the EPA, by the Center for Biological Diversity, in order to force them to release information on the “censoring” of climate change verbiage. According to Center open government attorney Meg Townsend, these modifications are tantamount to “active censorship of science” and “appalling and dangerous for America and the greater global community.”

Case for climate change grows ever stronger

USA Today

Case for climate change grows ever stronger

The Editorial Board, USA TODAY        Published August 14, 2017

But will Trump administration change the draft National Climate Assessment?: Our view

(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

Could proof grow any more powerful that humanity is responsible for a dangerously warming planet? Scientists studying Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are finding ever more troubling evidence.

Last year was the hottest on record, according to a report late last week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report, by more than 450 scientists from 60 nations, also found that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global sea levels are at their highest levels on record.

Just as troubling were draft findings destined for the quadrennial National Climate Assessment. Scientists from 13 federal agencies found that a rapid rise in temperatures since the 1980s in the United States represents the warmest period in 1,500 years.

The impacts from human-caused warming are no distant threat, the scientists concluded, but are punishing populations right now with weather made worse by climate change: more heat and drought in the American Southwest, larger and fiercer storms along the Pacific, and greater rainfall elsewhere.

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emission of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible,” the draft says. “There are no alternative explanations.”

The stark threat from climate change is why nearly 200 nations joined together under the Paris Agreement, signed last year, to collectively curb emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. It’s also why 40 countries, and a group of Republican elder statesmen in the United States, support worthy plans for a refundable carbon tax that puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions created by the burning of fossil fuels.

The question now is how the Trump administration, which is stocked with climate skeptics and is pulling the United States out of the Paris accord, will react to the latest scientific findings. The White House could decide as early as Friday whether to order changes in the draft National Climate Assessment report.

Environmentalists such as Al Gore and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg say Trump’s rejection of the science only compels state and local governments to act more aggressively to head off catastrophic climate change.

There is that hope. As the world has begun turning to cleaner burning fuels and renewable energy, it appears that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are stabilizing, even as global temperatures continue to rise.

But much damage can still be done. A recent study has shown that just four years of Trump’s recalcitrant environmental policies would add an additional 12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

It’s bad enough when President Trump defies the truth when he talks about millions of undocumented immigrants voting against him in the election, or the crowd size at his inauguration. At least those falsehoods provide grist for late-night comics.

The same cannot be said for defying the overwhelming scientific consensus about human-caused climate change and actively working against global efforts to stave off calamity. That’s placing the future of the planet, and the lives of its inhabitants, in jeopardy.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.



We Keep Electing Idiots, the Oceans Keep Rising


We Keep Electing Idiots, the Oceans Keep Rising

An update on the climate crisis.

By Charles P. Pierce       August 14, 2017

You may have missed it during all the events of the past week, but New Orleans is drowning again. For the second August in a row, the city was hit with a massive rain event. The pump and drainage systems were damaged and nobody discovered it until they utterly failed when the storm broke over the city. The power to the pumps failed for several crucial hours. From the Times-Picayune:

“For now, New Orleans is teetering on a ledge. Its drainage pumps on Friday (Aug. 11) were still running on their last backup power source. Sixteen of the city’s 120 pumps are out of commission all together. Misinformation spread by the Sewerage & Water Board damaged the public trust even further. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials struggle to make repairs and right the ship, the crisis again raises the tenor of an ongoing conversation about better ways for New Orleans to manage its relationship with water.”

It was only a year ago that two storms collided over the city and dropped more rain on New Orleans than Hurricane Katrina had. Some 30,000 people had to be rescued. Thirteen people died.

[Within two days of the floods, a team of researchers began studying whether the rainfall was more likely because of climate change driven in part by the greenhouse gas emissions that human beings have been pumping into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Age. The method behind such studies, called “attribution science,” is only about 10 years old. “A few years back this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Karin van der Wiel, a research scientist with Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and one of the researchers that conducted the analysis. The team found that the mid-August 2016 rain in Louisiana was at least 40 percent more likely to occur now than in pre-industrial times. “Our best estimate is a doubling of odds,” van der Wiel said. “That change is purely because human beings put so much more greenhouse gases in the air.”]

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu pushed back a little at a suggestion that the climate crisis was to blame for this year’s flooding, but the fact remains that coastal cities in the United States are in substantial peril because of that crisis. It’s easy to scoff at New Orleans, and to blame bad management and the customary corruption. However, at the end of July, a report was issued that stated plainly that Tampa Bay is woefully unprepared to handle a direct hit from a major hurricane, and that the damage that would ensue would be greater than that levied by Katrina. From the Washington Post:

“A Boston firm that analyzes potential catastrophic damage reported that the region would lose $175 billion in a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina. A World Bank study called Tampa Bay one of the 10 most at-risk areas on the globe. Yet the bay area — greater Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater — has barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. Its slow response to a major threat is a case study in how American cities reluctantly prepare for the worst, even though signs of impacts from climate change abound all around. State leaders could be part of the reason. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has reportedly discouraged employees from using the words “climate change” in official communications. Last month, the Republican-controlled state legislature approved bills allowing any citizen to challenge textbooks and instructional materials, including those that teach the science of evolution and global warming.”

We are unprepared because we are a nation of idiots that keep electing (and re-electing) idiots and the oceans don’t care. Luckily, however, we have energy industry sublet Scott Pruitt running the EPA, and, as the New York Times tells us, things are going about as well as expected there.

“Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security. A former Oklahoma attorney general who built his career suing the E.P.A., and whose LinkedIn profile still describes him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” Mr. Pruitt has made it clear that he sees his mission to be dismantling the agency’s policies — and even portions of the institution itself. But as he works to roll back regulations, close offices and eliminate staff at the agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment and public health, Mr. Pruitt is taking extraordinary measures to conceal his actions, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former agency employees.”

“His aides recently asked career employees to make major changes in a rule regulating water quality in the United States — without any records of the changes they were being ordered to make. And the E.P.A. under Mr. Pruitt has moved to curb certain public information, shutting down data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies, and taking down more than 1,900 agency webpages on topics like climate change, according to a tally by the Environmental Defense Fund, which did a Freedom of Information request on these terminated pages.”

Apparently, the drainage systems in The Swamp are malfunctioning as well.

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Unequal justice under the law

CBS Sunday Morning

Unequal justice under the law

CBS News        August 13, 2017

Does our criminal justice system truly guarantee JUSTICE FOR ALL? Not if you don’t have the money to hire your own top-notch attorney, it doesn’t. Our Cover Story is reported by Lee Cowan:

You’re about to hear some pretty strong words from this law professor … so strong they’re almost hard to believe:

“When we pledge allegiance to the flag and we say ‘liberty and justice for all,’ that’s just not true. I’m sorry,” said Stephen Bright.

“So is the notion of equal justice under the law really just a myth?” asked Cowan.

“Oh, I think it is, yes. Unless something changes, we’re going to have to someday sandblast ‘equal justice under law’ off the Supreme Court building, because for the 80% of people who are poor, we don’t have anything that comes anywhere close to being equal justice under law.”

Bright currently teaches law at Yale University, but spent much of his career at the Southern Center for Human Rights, fighting to help those charged with a crime but who can’t afford an attorney to defend them in court.

People like Shanna Shackelford, who says her life was ruined after her home outside Atlanta caught fire in 2009.

She wasn’t home at the time, but a small insurance policy she had taken out on the rental house made investigators suspicious.

“I thought it was just a misunderstanding, like, they’re going to figure this out, and it’s going to be okay,” she told Cowan.

After a fire in her home led to an arson charge, Shanna Shackelford had to rely on a public defender to represent her case. He recommended she accept 25 years behind bars.  CBS News

But it wasn’t. Shackelford found herself under arrest, charged with arson. “My grandma was like, ‘You might need to get an attorney and talk to somebody,'” Shackelford said.

But she didn’t have money for an attorney. So she applied for a public defender — a court-appointed lawyer tasked with making sure the 6th Amendment is upheld. (That’s the part of our Constitution that guarantees any of us the “assistance of counsel.”)

It’s a right that’s been tested in court, most notably in a case brought in the ’60s by a petty thief in Florida named Clarence Gideon. Unable to afford an attorney, Gideon was convicted and sentenced without one.

He appealed, arguing his right to an attorney had been violated, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. But while the Constitution may promise everyone legal counsel, it says nothing about the quality of that legal counsel, a deficit Shackelford felt right away.

She told Cowan it took about two for her to hear from her public defender: “His response was, ‘I have a bunch of cases like yours, so I’ll get to it when I get to it.'”

When he finally did “get to it,” instead of going over the details of her case, Schackelford says he simply told her to plead guilty, and take 25 years behind bars.

“He said, ‘If you didn’t do it, who did?’  And I said, ‘I don’t know, but I didn’t burn it down.’ He was like, ‘Well, I mean, looks like you did.’ He knew nothing about my case when he was talking to me. He was mixing me up with some other case — like, he had no idea what was going on.”

A public defender at court with her case files. CBS News

Shackelford’s case is not unusual. Nearly every case, roughly 90% in fact, often end in a guilty plea, largely because even if a poor defendant is innocent, most can’t afford bail or to wait in jail for trial, which means losing their jobs, their cars, maybe even their homes in the process.

“Being arrested and spending four or five days in jail can be enough to ruin a person’s life, even if they’re ultimately found not to be guilty of anything,” said Stephen Bright.

Take the city of Cordele, Georgia, for example, where at one hearing defendants all plead guilty as a group, with no evidence presented. Bright calls it the “Meet ’em and plead ’em” defense.

“You’ll see a crowded courtroom and there will be a lawyer there with his legal pad, and he’ll be, ‘Ms. Smith? Is Ms. Smith…? Raise your hand,'” said Bright. “They’re trying to identify their own clients! They’re getting ready to go before a judge in just a moment.”

Misdemeanor arraignments, conducted en masse, in Cordele, Ga. CBS News

Cowan saw the same thing happen in a Miami courtroom, where one Public Defender had to handle a crowd of clients all at once.

“I don’t care who the person is, I don’t care how dedicated they are; you cannot represent 500 criminal clients at the same time and give those clients the representation that they’re entitled to,” said Bright.

Nowhere is the problem of indigent defense more acute than in Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate not only in the country, but in the world.

Public defender Rhonda Covington handles 500 to 600 cases a year. CBS News

Rhonda Covington is the sole public defender responsible for representing anyone too poor to afford a lawyer in her judicial district. That district encompasses about a thousand square miles.

She says she has to defend five to six hundred people every year. The professional standard, according to the American Bar Association, is about 150 felony cases a year … and some think even that’s too much.

Covington has two paralegals and two contract attorneys who help with the load, but they’re only part time. It’s mostly just her and her two cats (named Liberty and Justice).

She even cleans the office herself.

“Some people say, ‘Well, any defense will do,'” Covington said. “And some people think, ‘Well, you know, they shouldn’t have representation because they’ve been arrested.’ My job is not to get people off when they’ve committed crimes. That’s not what I do. What I do is to ensure that their Constitutional rights are protected.”

The bulk of the state funding for Louisiana’s Public Defender offices comes from an unpredictable source: its traffic tickets, which out on these country roads isn’t exactly a windfall.

According to Covington, the District Attorney’s office budget is five to six times hers.

“And out of that budget comes assistants, and investigators, and access to pay for things like DNA testing?” asked Cowan.

“Exactly. I’ve gone to crime scenes before with my own camera taking photographs. Each year, it’s always something a little less, a little less, a little less.”

Doing more with less is why she thinks she lost the case for one of her clients, 56-year-old James Waltman. She told him, “I’ve decided to go ahead and file a second motion for a new trial, citing the reason being that we had insufficient funds in order to investigate your case.”

Waltman admitted he assaulted his wife during an argument, but the state also charged him with kidnapping and rape — sentence-heavy crimes he insists he never committed. Rhonda believes with some investigation she could have at least lessened the charges. But she didn’t have the time or the money. “I couldn’t shut down my whole office for that one case,” she explained.

“Being innocent I had all the confidence in the world, that I’d walk out,” Waltman said, getting emotional. “But it didn’t happen.”

All across Louisiana, public defenders in 33 of the state’s 44 judicial districts now admit they’re in the same boat Rhonda Covington is in; they’re simply too busy to ethically handle their caseloads.

“If you ain’t’ got a paid lawyer, you’re going to go through this,” said Joseph Allen. He was arrested last year in Baton Rouge for a firearms violation, as well as a marijuana charge. The court didn’t even know he was in jail, because his public defender didn’t know he was in jail.

Dowan asked, “Did you feel like anybody was on your side?”

“Not really. No,” he replied.

“Nobody there to sort of help you through the legal maze, nobody to explain the charges?”

“No, sir. I did all that up on my own, reading the law book.”

Now, Allen and 12 others are suing Louisiana’s Governor and the Public Defender Board in a class action lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We’re arguing that being appointed an attorney who doesn’t know who you are, doesn’t investigate your case, doesn’t come to see you, doesn’t take your calls, doesn’t ask for a bond reduction, doesn’t investigate the evidence, doesn’t talk to any witnesses, and doesn’t do anything else to move your case, file any motions that are particularized to you, you don’t have an attorney; you have an attorney in name only,” said Lisa Graybill, Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director.

“I don’t believe in filing lawsuits unless you really have to, right?” she said. “If there were a way to avoid filing it, we would have, but this injustice has gone on really for too long. It’s unacceptable.”

Back in Georgia, Shanna Shackelford spent years researching her case by herself. Her public defender was too busy with other cases, she says.

In the process, she lost two jobs and her home. After all, who wants to hire or rent to a suspected arsonist?

Had it not been for Stephen Bright — the only person who would seriously look into her case — Shackelford would probably be in jail. His investigation, which he did for free, proved that the fire was the result of faulty wiring, not arson.

It took him just two weeks to get her case dismissed.

“Two weeks,” Shackelford said. “That’s all it took. Someone to do a little research, and try.”

It still took Shackelford three more years to get the charge off her record.

But now with the nightmare finally behind her, she has started anew. She’s opening her own business, and focusing on being a mom to her two-year-old son, Ja’Ben.

“You did get justice, but not the way it should have come,” said Cowan. “Or at the price.”

“No,” she said. “It was almost like having to give up my life, for my freedom. And that’s what I had to choose in the end. I had to give up so many years in order to get the point of freedom.”

My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worse


My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worse didn’t get his endorsement when I ran for governor — but the severely troubled man I met has only gotten worse

Bill Curry     August 12, 2017

In 1994, I visited the home of Donald Trump. He was a Democrat then, of sorts, and I was the party’s nominee for governor of Connecticut. He’d taken an interest in our state owing to his keen desire to lodge a casino in Bridgeport, an idea I found economically and morally dubious. I had scant hope of enlisting him, but made the trip anyway, thinking that if I convinced him I might win, he’d be less apt to bankroll my opponent.

I arrived at Trump Tower in early evening, accompanied by my finance chair and an old friend and colleague. Stepping off the elevator into his apartment, we were met by a display of sterile, vulgar ostentation: all gold, silver, brass, marble; nothing soft, welcoming or warm. Trump soon appeared and we began to converse, but not really. In campaigns, we candidates do most of the talking; because we like to, and because people ask us lots of questions. Not this time. Not by a long shot.

Trump talked very rapidly and virtually nonstop for nearly an hour; not of my campaign or even of politics, but only of himself, and almost always in the third person. He’d given himself a nickname: “the Trumpster,” as in “everybody wants to know what the Trumpster’s gonna do,” a claim he made more than once.

He mostly told stories. Some were about his business deals; others about trips he’d taken or things he owned. All were unrelated to the alleged point of our meeting, and to one another. That he seldom even attempted segues made each tale seem more disconnected from reality than the last. It was funny at first, then pathetic, and finally deeply unsettling.

On the drive home, we all burst out laughing, then grew quiet. What the hell just happened? My first theory, that Trump was high on cocaine, didn’t feel quite right, but he was clearly emotionally impaired: in constant need of approbation; lacking impulse control, self-awareness or awareness of others. We’d heard tales of his monumental vanity, but were still shocked by the sad spectacle of him.

That visit colored all my later impressions of Trump. Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye. Sensing impunity, Trump revived the racist ‘birther’ lie. In 2011, he told the “Today” show’s Meredith Vieira he had unearthed some dark secrets:

Vieira: You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?

Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding

As Trump recycled old lies, Vieira had a queasy look but no apparent knowledge of the facts. Of course, there weren’t any. Trump had no proof of Obama being born in Kenya. (Since there is none.) It’s highly doubtful he had any researchers in Hawaii. (It was only after Vieira asked him that he claimed he did.) Later, when Trump’s story crumbled, he followed a rule taught by his mentor, Roy Cohn, infamous architect of McCarthyism: Admit nothing. To Trump, a lie is worth a thousand pictures.

By 2016, the private Trump was on permanent public display, raging over mere slights, seeing plots in every ill turn of events and, as always, stunningly self-absorbed. He was called a racist, a sexist and a bully. But his mental health issues were euphemized as problems of “temperament.” He lied ceaselessly, reflexively and clumsily, but his lies were called merely “unproven” or, later, “false.” The New York Times called the birther story a lie only after Trump grudgingly retracted it. Not till he was safe in office claiming that millions of phantom immigrants cast votes for Clinton did the paper of record use the word “lie” in reference to a tale Trump was still telling.

In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health.

The pathologies of American journalism are by now clichés: aversion to policy analysis; addiction to horse-race politics; smashing of walls that once separated news, opinion and advertising; an ideology that mistakes evenhandedness for objectivity. Yet we hear scant talk of reform. The press excels at public rituals of soul-searching but has little taste for the real thing.  That said, its reluctance to discuss mental health reflects its virtues as well as its vices. Of major outlets, Fox News does by far the most psychological profiling. (It turns out all liberals are crazy.)

Like the language of politics, the language of psychology is imprecise; the term “sociopath” is as hard to nail down as “liberal” or “conservative.” What separates a serial liar from a pathological liar? Mere suspicion from paranoia? Righteous anger from uncontrolled rage? How do we ever tell mental illness from ill character? Our view of any antisocial behavior hinges on whether we view it through a moral, legal or therapeutic lens; to take a human life other than in self-defense is insane, and also criminal and, to many, sinful. Do we treat, punish or forgive? It’s so hard to say.

The diagnosis we associate with Trump is “narcissistic personality disorder” (a term that only lately replaced “narcissistic character disorder”). You’ll find it in the Diagnostic Survey Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition. Back in February, a principal author of the prior edition, Dr. Allen Frances, wrote a letter to the Times rebuking mental health professionals for “diagnosing public figures from a distance” and “amateur diagnosticians” for “mislabeling” Trump with narcissistic personality disorder. Allen says he wrote the criteria defining the disorder and Trump doesn’t have it. His reasoning: Trump “does not suffer the disorder and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.”

Frances does what he accuses others of doing. By saying flatly that Trump doesn’t suffer a disorder, he diagnoses a public figure we assume — for multiple reasons — he hasn’t treated. Nor can he or anyone else tell “from a distance” that Trump doesn’t suffer the requisite impairment and disorder. No president ever seemed so impaired or disordered, but we needn’t compare him only to other rotten presidents. Trump is the Chuck Yeager of lying, a shatterer of records thought untouchable. That he is frozen in pathological, crotch-grabbing adolescence is well documented; that his judgment is often deranged by rage is self-evident.

This week the world watched two men of obvious, serious emotional impairment in control of ungodly nuclear weapons trade puerile taunts while threatening to incinerate millions of innocent human beings. Donald Trump, having made war on Mitch McConnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nordstrom, China, Mexico, Australia and the cast of “Hamilton,” baiting a man who idolizes Dennis Rodman and just murdered his own brother. This is simply unacceptable. We know how Kim Jong-un got his job. It’s time we thought about how Trump got his. One answer is that he got it the way authoritarian leaders do in liberal democracies: by exploiting the weakness and naïve politesse of the old order. To contain him, let alone remove him, we must relearn the rules of debate.

We can start by distinguishing name calling (bad) from merely naming (which is not just good but vital). I too recoil from quack therapists diagnosing strangers on cable TV. But you don’t need to be a botanist to tell a rose from a dandelion. In 2016 Trump compared Ben Carson to a child molester and pronounced him “incurable,” but few raised the far more real question of Trump’s own mental health. Do we dare not state the obvious? You needn’t be an amateur diagnostician to see that Donald Trump is mentally ill.

Trump embodies that old therapists’ saw “perception is projection.” You can use this handy tool to locate the truth, exactly opposite from whatever he just said. He has a weight management problem, so women are “fat pigs.” He can’t stop fibbing, so his primary opponent becomes “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.” His career is rife with fraud so the former secretary of state becomes “Crooked Hillary.” He is terrified of ridicule, so Barack Obama is a “laughingstock.” When he says America’s a wasteland but he’ll make it great again, we know his secret fear.

Late in the presidential campaign Hillary Clinton famously dubbed some large portion of Trump’s base a “basket of deplorables.” A constant theme and core belief of her campaign was that his campaign was fueled by racism and misogyny, evils against which Democrats stand united. The evils are genuine and enduring, but political corruption and the economic inequality it fosters did at least as much and probably more to fuel Trump’s rise.

It’s likely that Trump’s arrested development also got him white working-class votes, among males especially. The infantilization of the American male is a phenomenon we have been slow to recognize. It is a product of fast-narrowing economic horizons fueled by cultural forces; by beer ads and anti-intellectualism, by addiction and violent video games, and now by Trump, on whom Jon Stewart pinned the fitting moniker “man baby.”

Countless surveys say our children are less racist and sexist than our parents. What many may not be is more adult. The issue isn’t the bros in the beer ads; we assume they have jobs. It’s the tinderbox we create by mixing ignorance and inequality with dashed hopes and an overwrought sense of victimization. They say presidents lead us down the paths we’re already on. It’s our job to make sure this one doesn’t.

One thing Trump has taught us is that the drafters of the 25th Amendment weren’t thinking about mental illness. It is unlikely anyone it puts in charge would have the courage to take action. In any case, progressives must put their primary emphasis on crafting a blueprint for political reform and economic justice. While they’re at it they could try making better cases on national security and climate change.

They must take another lesson from Trump: to say out loud things they never said before, not as Trump does, but with honesty, decency, reason and specificity. Trump got to be president in part because there were so many things Democrats and the media didn’t think or couldn’t bring themselves to say. Trump’s whole life is a fraud that Robert Mueller may soon expose as a criminal enterprise. His business career was a disaster till a book someone else wrote and a TV show someone else produced made him a celebrity. He then fell into the only line of work he ever prospered in: licensing that celebrity. He does it pretty well, but Zsa Zsa Gabor did it first and Kim Kardashian did it better and neither of them should be president.

In 2016 Trump’s real vulnerabilities were his mental health and personal finances. We can now add his proto-fascism and his possible or intended treason to the list. Trump was lucky in the draw. His defects were so monumental, so toxic, we had no protocol for talking about them. There are effective and responsible ways to talk about all such things, but first our media and political elites must find the courage to name them. They know as well as you or I who he is.

Bill Curry was White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut. He is at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.

Alluring Lake Michigan dunes hide destructive potential

Detroit Free Press

Alluring Lake Michigan dunes hide destructive potential

Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press     Aug. 13, 2017

LAKE MICHIGAN — One gobbles entire cottages. Another swallowed a child for hours before rescuers could dig him out.

This may sound like the work of a nightmarish creature from the “Star Wars” or “Tremors” science-fiction films, but it’s mostly wind and sand along a Great Lake.

Near Silver Lake in Oceana County — about an hour’s drive north of Grand Rapids — people for many years have lost properties to wind-driven sand dunes. And about 175 miles to the south, at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana, a horrifying event in 2013 was enough to shut down an entire area for four years.

Nathan Woessner, then 6, was walking on Mt. Baldy, a massive, 120-foot-tall dune on the east end of the park, when he fell in an invisible hole. For nearly four hours, he was trapped 11 feet below the surface — he nearly died, but rescuers saved him, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

On July 14, the National Park Service reopened the beach below Mt. Baldy. Access to the dune itself remains closed. Rope fences marked “Keep off dunes” guide the path through sand down to the beach.

Bruce Rowe, spokesman with the National Park Service, said trees rotting away under the sand’s surface create the holes. Eleven have been found in the dune, and it remains closed because of the danger.

On Aug. 1, a few people could be seen scattered along the beach. Kristy Stucky, 38, of Merrillville, Ill., and Rachel Henderson, 38, of Crown Pointe, Ill., each brought their young children down to play.

The mothers said they came to the Mt. Baldy beach because it’s not as crowded as the nearby state park, there’s no charge, and they can bring a dog. And also because it just re-opened.

A roped-fence path marks the way around Mount Baldy to the parking lot Aug. 1, 2017 after dune access was closed because of dangerous holes at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (Photo: Robert Allen /Detroit Free Press)

“This is incredible,” Henderson said. “The shorelines are gorgeous, and the water’s gorgeous.”

She said she’s not worried about the sand.

“That never crossed our mind — to go where there’s a fenced area,” Henderson said.

At one point, the mothers called the kids back to the beach. Rip currents have claimed dozens of lives in the past year on Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes sand dunes are relatively young, from a geologic perspective, as the lakes were covered with ice until about 16,000 years ago, according to a General Management Plan by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources dated March 2012.

It says the dunes’ sands come from glacial sediment eroded by streams and from waves along the shoreline’s bluffs. Currents moved the sediment along the shoreline, and strong winds carried the sand inland, creating the dunes, according to the management plan.

The coastal dunes, framed in thick forests, are a special place. Stucky said her husband proposed to her, years earlier, at the top of Mt. Baldy — from which miles of Lake Michigan’s blue-green waters are visible.

“We wanted to come back,” she said. “But it was closed.”  

Al Gore, on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)


By AlterNet   August 9, 2017 Gore at the Paris COP21 UN conference on climate change in Le Bourget, France (December 7, 2015). Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock

Al Gore Predicts Trump’s Exit

By Chris Sosa  August 9, 2017

Al Gore reportedly drew laughs from a European audience at a premiere of his new documentary when he insinuated that President Donald Trump might be ejected from office.

Gore is currently touring the globe with his latest environmental movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”

“We’re only six months into the experiment with Trump. Some experiments are ended early for ethical reasons,” Gore said to the filmgoing audience. While he acknowledged his comments were “provocative,” he refused to retract them.

Gore also expressed confidence in the environmental future of the U.S. despite Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. He believes that American cities, states and corporate leaders will ignore their president and meet U.S. obligations anyway.

“We have a global agreement and the American people are part of this agreement in spite of Donald Trump,” Gore said.

He reassured the foreign audience that the U.S. will “soon once again” have a president who is committed to combatting the global climate crisis.

Watch Al Gore’s recent appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” below:

It’s No Longer About Southern Heritage. In Fact, It Never Was.


It’s No Longer About Southern Heritage. In Fact, It Never Was.

It’s time Southerners recognize the lies we’ve been telling ourselves for over a century. NurPhoto

By Tyler Coates       August 12, 2017

“It’s about heritage, not hate.”

As a kid growing up in Virginia, that’s the answer I always received when I questioned a Confederate flag hanging on the side of a shed or the statues of Confederate generals lining Monument Avenue in Richmond, our state capital. These weren’t symbols of intolerance, racism, or white supremacy. No, these were to honor the lives lost in a lost cause: a war that divided our country in two, a series of battles in which the Southern man bravely defended his homeland and tragically lost.

We Southerners have a strong sense of pride for our history and culture. We’re very good at lying to ourselves to fit the narrative we want to believe.

A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, standing on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia

Getty Hank Walker

I grew up in Montross, Virginia, a tiny little town about an hour from Richmond. There’s not much to say about it, but our bragging rights come from the fact that Montross is the seat of Westmoreland County, where two of America’s most famous generals were born: George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Both of them moved away when they were children, but the symbolism is still there: Two men who played major roles in fundamental moments of our nation’s history had their origins in our tiny part of the world.

Robert E. Lee, I’ll admit, always cast a darker shadow over that part of Virginia than his Revolutionary War counterpart. I grew up being fed the tall tales of his devotion to his home state, his compassion and integrity; he sided not with the South, but with Virginia, and that is why he led the Confederate army against a tyrannical Union. It’s bullshit, of course, but again: Southerners like their legends, and we like to present beautiful odes to our heroes even when the acts they committed were hardly heroic—but were, in fact, treasonous.

I have never looked up to the men whose effigies stand tall in various parts of the South. I never thought they were heroes, simply because of the fact that they were fighting for a destructive, evil cause. We can have an endless debate over “states’ rights” as the root of the Civil War; I find it pointless, because it is nothing more than a convenient narrative to avoid the truth. These men were fighting against the notion that all men and women—not just the white men in power, and the women who stood beside them—deserve the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for which our forefathers fought in the late 18th century. They wanted to continue the practice of enslaving black men and women, of protecting whiteness. I will never see a Confederate flag or monument and separate it from a history of white supremacy, no matter how often I was instructed by our biased history lessons to ignore it.

I will never see a Confederate flag or monument and separate it from a history of white supremacy.

Last night in Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacists descended upon the town—and upon the grounds of the University of Virginia—to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park. (Emancipation Park, to be exact; Southerners often turn a blind eye to irony.) Brandishing tiki torches, racist and homophobic slogans, and Nazi salutes, the group began to clash with Black Lives Matter activists and other groups protesting the planned “Unite the Right” rally. Those clashes continued on Saturday morning, when Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. Chip Somodevilla

To my fellow Virginians and Southerners who have stood so steadfast in their refusal to see our Confederate monuments for what they are, I ask you: What does this say about our heritage? These men and women are not protesting the elimination of Southern culture and history, but rather reacting to their own deluded notions that white people are losing control of our country. When a group of men and women shout out “Jew will not replace us” in front of a statue of Robert E. Lee, what does that say about your symbol of Southern heritage? When these people brandish Nazi symbols and scream “fuck you faggots” in front of your idol, what does it say about a historical figure who supposedly stood up against a tyrannical government to protect his land?

The South lost the war. Over a century later, we’re still fighting one—but it has nothing to do with states’ rights or Southern pride. It is about racism, intolerance, and hatred. And at the center of it all are symbols that, despite the well-intended Southern narratives that have failed to reframe them as anything else, are the strongest representation of racism in our country’s history.

It is time the Confederate monuments come down for good, as they are now forever linked with an intolerance that extends beyond the borders of the Southern states. It’s not about Southern heritage anymore, but rather America’s heritage of propagating white supremacy as we comfort ourselves with slogans that suggest otherwise.

Beyond Organic: How Regenerative Farming Can Save Us From Global Catastrophe


The Regenerators: A better way to farm.

The Regenerators: A better way to farm.Read more: Greenpeace New Zealand

Posted by EcoWatch on Saturday, August 12, 2017

Beyond Organic: How Regenerative Farming Can Save Us From Global Catastrophe

Ronnie Cummins     June 4, 2017  

A growing corps of organic, climate, environmental, social justice and peace activists are promoting a new world-changing paradigm that can potentially save us from global catastrophe. The name of this new paradigm and movement is regenerative agriculture, or more precisely regenerative food, farming and land use.

Regenerative agriculture and land use incorporates the traditional and indigenous best practices of organic farming, animal husbandry and environmental conservation. Regeneration puts a central focus on improving soil health and fertility (recarbonizing the soil), increasing biodiversity, and qualitatively enhancing forest health, animal welfare, food nutrition and rural (especially small farmer) prosperity.

The basic menu for a regeneration revolution is to unite the world’s 3 billion rural farmers, ranchers and herders with several billion health, environmental and justice-minded consumers to overturn “business as usual” and embark on a global campaign of cooperation, solidarity and regeneration.

According to food activist Vandana Shiva, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.”

So how can regenerative agriculture do all these things: increase soil fertility; maximize crop yields; draw down enough excess carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soils, plants and trees to re-stabilize the climate and restore normal rainfall; increase soil water retention; make food more nutritious; reduce rural poverty; and begin to pacify the world’s hotspots of violence?

First, let’s look at what Michael Pollan, the U.S.’s most influential writer on food and farming, has to say about the miraculous regenerative power of Mother Nature and enhanced photosynthesis:

Consider what happens when the sun shines on a grass plant rooted in the earth. Using that light as a catalyst, the plant takes atmospheric CO2, splits off and releases the oxygen, and synthesizes liquid carbon–sugars, basically. Some of these sugars go to feed and build the aerial portions of the plant we can see, but a large percentage of this liquid carbon—somewhere between 20 and 40 percent—travels underground, leaking out of the roots and into the soil. The roots are feeding these sugars to the soil microbes—the bacteria and fungi that inhabit the rhizosphere—in exchange for which those microbes provide various services to the plant … Now, what had been atmospheric carbon (a problem) has become soil carbon, a solution—and not just to a single problem, but to a great many problems.

Besides taking large amounts of carbon out of the air—tons of it per acre when grasslands [or cropland] are properly managed … that process at the same time adds to the land’s fertility and its capacity to hold water. Which means more and better food for us…

This process of returning atmospheric carbon to the soil works even better when ruminants are added to the mix. Every time a calf or lamb shears a blade of grass, that plant, seeking to rebalance its “root-shoot ratio,” sheds some of its roots. These are then eaten by the worms, nematodes, and microbes—digested by the soil, in effect, and so added to its bank of carbon. This is how soil is created: from the bottom up … For thousands of years we grew food by depleting soil carbon and, in the last hundred or so, the carbon in fossil fuel as well. But now we know how to grow even more food while at the same time returning carbon and fertility and water to the soil.

A 2015 article in The Guardian summarizes some of the most important practices of regenerative agriculture:

Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, re-mineralizes soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

If you want to understand the basic science and biology of how regenerative agriculture can draw down enough excess carbon from the atmosphere over the next 25 years and store it in our soils and forests (in combination with a 100-percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions) to not only mitigate, but actually reverse global warming, read this article by one of North America’s leading organic farmers, Jack Kittridge.

If you want a general overview of news and articles on regenerative food, farming and land use, you can follow the newsfeed “Cook Organic Not the Planet” by the Organic Consumers Association and/or sign up for Organic Consumers Association’s weekly online newsletter (you can subscribe online or text “Bytes” to 97779).

You can also visit the Regeneration International website, where you’ll find this list of books on regenerative agriculture.

Solving the Soil, Health, Environmental and Climate Crises

Without going into extensive detail here (you can read the references above), we need to connect the dots between our soil, public health, environment and climate crisis. As the widely-read Mercola newsletter puts it:

Virtually every growing environmental and health problem can be traced back to modern food production. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Food insecurity and malnutrition amid mounting food waste
  • Rising obesity and chronic disease rates despite growing health care outlays
  • Diminishing fresh water supplies
  • Toxic agricultural chemicals polluting air, soil and waterways, thereby threatening the entire food chain from top to bottom
  • Disruption of normal climate and rainfall patterns

Connecting the Dots Between Climate and Food

We can’t really solve the climate crisis (and the related soil, environmental, and public health crisis) without simultaneously solving the food and farming crisis. We need to stop putting greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere (by moving to 100-percent renewable energy), but we also need to move away from chemical-intensive, energy-intensive food, factory farming and land use, as soon as possible.

Regenerative food and farming has the potential to draw down a critical mass of carbon (200-250 billion tons) from the atmosphere over the next 25 years and store it in our soils and living plants, where it will increase soil fertility, food production and food quality (nutritional density), while re-stabilizing the climate.

The heavy use of pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers and factory-farming by 50 million industrial farmers (mainly in the Global North) is not just poisoning our health and engendering a global epidemic of chronic disease and malnutrition. It’s also destroying our soil, wetlands’ and forests’ natural ability to sequester excess atmospheric carbon into the Earth.

The good news is that solar and wind power, and energy conservation are now cheaper than fossil fuels. And most people are starting to understand that organic, grass-fed and freshly-prepared foods are safer and more nutritious than chemical and GMO foods.

The food movement and climate movements must break through our single-issue silos and start to work together. Either we stop Big Coal, Big Oil, fracking and the mega-pipelines, or climate change will soon morph into climate catastrophe, making it impossible to grow enough food to feed the planet. Every food activist needs to become a climate activist.

On the other hand, every climate activist needs to become a food activist. Our current system of industrial food, farming and land use, now degenerating 75 percent of all global farmland, is “mining” and decarbonizing the soil, destroying our forests and releasing 44-57 percent of all climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and black soot) into our already supersaturated atmosphere, while at the same time undermining our health with commoditized, overly processed food.

Solving the Crisis of Rural Poverty, Democracy and Endless War

Out-of-touch and out-of-control governments of the world now take our tax money and spend $500 billion dollars a year mainly subsidizing 50 million industrial farmers to do the wrong thing. These farmers routinely over-till, over-graze (or under-graze), monocrop and pollute the soil and the environment with chemicals and GMOs to produce cheap commodities (corn, soy, wheat, rice, cotton) and cash crops, low-grade processed food and factory-farmed meat and animal products. Meanwhile 700 million small family farms and herders, comprising the 3 billion people who produce 70 percent of the world’s food on just 25 percent of the world’s acreage, struggle to make ends meet.

If governments can be convinced or forced by the power of the global grassroots to reduce and eventually cut off these $500 billion in annual subsidies to industrial agriculture and Big Food and instead encourage and reward family farmers and ranchers who improve soil health, biodiversity, animal health and food quality, we can simultaneously reduce global poverty, improve public health, and restore climate stability.

As even the Pentagon now admits, climate change, land degradation (erosion and desertification) and rural poverty are now primary driving forces of sectarian strife and war (and massive waves of refugees) in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. U.S. military intervention in these regions, under the guise of “regime change” or democratization, has only made things worse. This is why every peace activist needs to become a climate and food activist and vice-versa.

Similarly corrupt, out-of-control governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels to the tune of $5.3 trillion dollars a year, while spending more than $3 trillion dollars annually on weapons, mainly to prop up our global fossil fuel system and overseas empires. If the global grassroots can reach out to one another, bypassing our corrupt governments, and break down the geographic, linguistic and cultural walls that separate us, we can launch a global regeneration revolution—on the scale of the global campaign in World War II against the Nazis.

One thing we the grassroots share in all of the 200 nations of the world is this: We are sick and tired of corrupt governments and out-of-control corporations degenerating our lives and threatening our future. The Russian people are not our enemies, nor the Chinese, nor the Iranians. The hour is late. The crisis is dire. But we still have time to regenerate our soils, climate, health, economy, foreign policy and democracy. We still have time to turn things around.

The global regeneration movement we need will likely take several decades to reach critical mass and effectiveness. In spreading the regeneration message, and building this new movement at the global grassroots, we must take into account the fact that most regions, nations and people (and in fact many people who are still ignorant of the facts or climate change deniers) will respond more quickly or positively to different aspects or dimensions of our message (i.e. providing jobs; reducing rural and urban poverty and inequality, restoring soil fertility, saving the ocean and marine life, preserving forests, improving nutrition and public health, eliminating hunger and malnutrition, saving biodiversity, restoring animal health and food quality, preserving water, safeguarding Mother Nature or God’s Creation, creating a foundation for peace, democracy and reconciliation, etc.) rather than to the central life or death message: reversing global warming.

What is important is not that everyone, everywhere immediately agrees 100 percent on all of the specifics of regenerative food, farming and land use—for this is not practical—but rather that we build upon our shared concerns in each community, region, nation and continent. Through a diversity of messages, frames and campaigns, through connecting the dots between all the burning issues, we will find the strength, numbers, courage and compassion to build the largest grassroots coalition in history—to safeguard our common home, our survival and the survival of the future generations.

GOP senators react to Trump’s Charlottesville comments: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name.”


GOP senators react to Trump’s Charlottesville comments: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name.”

Updated by Tara Golshan        August 12, 2017 Cory Gardner Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It was perfectly clear what President Donald Trump was avoiding in his comments about the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday. He condemned the hate and bigotry “on many sides.” He didn’t call out white nationalists or supremacists by name.

His words did not go unnoticed — prompting top GOP senators, like Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Orrin Hatch (UT), John McCain (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), Cory Gardner (CO) and Marco Rubio (FL), to call out the president for sidestepping the force of evil at play.

Cory Gardner @SenCory Gardner    Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism

Rubio followed suit, pressing the need for Trump to acknowledge the events that transpired.

Marco Rubio @marcorubio  Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists

For context, keep in mind that these are not back-bench Republicans. They’re well-known and influential players in Republican politics. They’re also not reflexive critics. They’ve defended Trump in the past. From this perspective, it’s a big deal to see senators buck their party leader so forcefully.

Still, their obvious statements against neo-Nazis shouldn’t normally look like an act of political courage. They are telling Trump that he needs to call today’s events for what they are: an act of domestic terrorism by white supremacists and white nationalists.

Chuck Grassley @ChuckGrassley   What “WhiteNationalist” are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does.

Senator Hatch Office @senorrinhatch    Their tiki torches may be fueled by citronella but their ideas are fueled by hate, & have no place in civil society.

Senator Hatch Office @senorrinhatch    We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH

Rob Portman @senrobportman   The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism.

On Saturday, crowds of white Americans donned confederate flags and swastikas to march in the name of bigotry and hate leaving one counter-protester dead and injuring more than a dozen others. A rally goer purposefully drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters — an act that Trump has found it easy to call terrorism in the past.

In a statement, McCain said the event put the ideals fought for in the Civil War at stake:

Our Founders fought a revolution for the idea that all men are created equal. The heirs of that revolution fought a Civil War to save our nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to that revolutionary proposition.

Nothing less is at stake on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, where a violent attack has taken at least one American life and injured many others in a confrontation between our better angels and our worst demons.

White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special.

As we mourn the tragedy that has occurred in Charlottesville, American patriots of all colors and creeds must come together to defy those who raise the flag of hatred and bigotry.

As many have pointed out through the day, condemning these actions is among the lowest bars to pass — but it is one that Trump decidedly chose not to cross. He ignored questions from reporters asking if he condemns white supremacy.

Instead, as Vox’s Dara Lind wrote, the president ended up “signaling to the white supremacists that he is on their side.”