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Will Congress Remove Confederate Statues From the Capitol?

By Matt Ford

More than 150 years after Ulysses S. Grant’s forces captured the Confederate capital, some members of Congress are trying to eject Robert E. Lee and his allies from Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday backed the growing calls to remove a group of Confederate statues from the Capitol building complex. “The Confederate statues in the halls of Congress have always been reprehensible,” she said in a statement. “If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately.”

Eight Confederate leaders are honored in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Among them are depictions of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens, and Lee. (Some also count West Virginia’s John Kenna, who served in a Confederate Army unit when he was 16 years old, and Louisiana’s Edward White, whose wartime service record is incomplete, as Confederates.)

Congress created the collection in 1864. The original law authorizing it allowed each state to place two statues in the collection; an amendment passed in 2000 allows the states to replace them at their discretion. That doesn’t mean Congress has no control, however: Because the collection was created under federal law and rests on federal property, lawmakers could theoretically amend the original statute to forbid Confederate statues and order the removal of any already present.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced Wednesday night he would draft a bill to excise them from the Capitol building. “This is just one step,” the Democrat wrote on Twitter. “We have much work to do.” (The text of the bill is not yet available, according to his congressional office.)

Booker’s efforts look poised to face an uphill battle in Congress: No Republican members have yet backed the statues’ removal, and House Speaker Paul Ryan …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



‘Before I Make a Statement, I Need the Facts’

By Krishnadev Calamur

President Trump said Tuesday he waited days to condemn the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, because he wanted to get all the facts. Trump has not explicitly described as terrorism the attack that took place there, which like today’s Barcelona attack involved a vehicle striking pedestrians.

In response to a question about whether it met the definition of terrorism, given the by-then widely reported extremist right-wing political ideology of the attacker, Trump said: “You can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want.” He described the debate over the term, which according to most definitions involves politically motivated violence designed to inspire fear, as “legal semantics.” But now it’s Thursday, and just hours after reports emerged of a fatal attack in Barcelona, Trump took to Twitter to call it terror, and prescribed a solution to eliminate “radical Islamic terror” based on a historical falsehood.

By Sunday, a day after the attack in Charlottesville that killed one person amid a demonstration including far-right and neo-Nazi groups, reports had already emerged of the suspected attackers’ white-supremacist ideology and fascination with Nazis. It took Trump a day to condemn neo-Nazis in a statement on Monday, and another day to equivocate on the definition of “terrorism.” In Barcelona, the attacker used his van to strike pedestrians in a tourist zone on Thursday, and within hours Spanish authorities had a suspect in custody whom they identified as a Moroccan-born man. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack online—but not until after the U.S. president had declared his certainty about the motivations of the culprit.

Trump is right about the virtues of waiting for information before declaring a seemingly violent event a terrorist attack—not least because some such events prove to be accidents or “ordinary” crimes, and invoking terrorists in …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: A Monumental Debate

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

President Trump railed against the removal of Confederate monuments, tweeting that he is “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Speaker Paul Ryan to take down the Confederate statues in the U.S. Capitol Building, but a spokesman for Ryan said Congress should leave that decision to the states. In an email to staff, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos condemned the “tragic and unthinkable” events last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and denounced “neo-Nazis and other racist bigots.” At least 13 people were killed and 50 injured after a driver plowed into a pedestrian area in Barcelona in what authorities are describing as a terrorist attack. Trump condemned the attack on Twitter, saying the U.S. “will do whatever is necessary to help.”

Today on The Atlantic

  • White Supremacists Need Not Apply: Many U.S. military chiefs have issued statements condemning racism and extremism after the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia. There are two important motivations behind those statements. (Andrew Exum)

  • Emboldening the Alt-Right: Michael German, a former FBI special agent and counterterrorism expert, tells Clare Foran that President Trump’s response to Charlottesville is helping push far-right views into the political mainstream.

  • The Tax Break Dividing the GOP: After failing to repeal Obamacare, Republicans are turning to tax reform, which is already proving to be an uphill battle. (Russell Berman)

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Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: A Monumental Debate” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



When Corporations Are Good Citizens

By Garrett Epps

Of the many rebukes Donald Trump received for his performance after the Charlottesville massacre, the collapse of his business advisory councils of corporate leaders may sting the worst. It undermines his core claim of business expertise and skill at managing the economy, and his central boast that he is adept at creating jobs and growth.

Meanwhile, 2,500 miles to the west, DreamHost LLC, a webhosting company in Los Angeles, is resisting a subpoena by the Department of Justice. During the weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, the company hosted a site called “,” which allowed organizers and potential protesters to discuss, plan, and communicate about demonstrations during the upcoming inaugural weekend. On Inauguration Day, a small band of protesters  did clash with police, breaking windows and setting fire to wastebaskets in the streets. Some 200 were arrested and charged with such crimes as rioting, inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and counts of destruction of property.

As part of the prosecution, the DOJ has demanded that DreamHost turn over digital information about anyone who visited the “disrupt” site. According to the company, that will mean revealing information on 1.3 million visitors to the site—“including the time and date of the visit, the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor (through their IP address), and even a detailed description of the software running in the visitor’s computer. This information, together with information from the internet service provider for the IP address, would allow the government to identify the visitor to the website and the specific computers used to visit the website.”

The company is resisting the subpoena in court. Its memo opposing the demand makes sobering reading. For one thing, it illustrates the overreach and arrogance of the Justice Department; but for another, its arguments rely …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Donald Trump Is a Lame-Duck President

By David A. Graham

In many ways, the Trump presidency never got off the ground: The president’s legislative agenda is going nowhere, his relations with foreign leaders are frayed, and his approval rating with the American people never enjoyed the honeymoon period most newly elected presidents do. Pundits who are sympathetic, or even neutral, on the president keep hoping that the next personnel move—the appointment of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, say, or the long-rumored-but-never-delivered departure of Steve Bannon—will finally get the White House in gear.

But what if they, and many other people, are thinking about it wrong? Maybe the reality is not that the Trump presidency has never gotten started. It’s that he’s already reached his lame-duck period. For most presidents, that comes in the last few months of a term. For Trump, it appears to have arrived early, just a few months into his term. The president did always brag that he was a fast learner.

Who knows when the lame-duck period began. Was it on January 21, when Trump’s administration tried to argue, against all evidence, that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history? Or the next day, when Kellyanne Conway introduced the world to “alternative facts”? Was it when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey? Was it the days-long slow reveal on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016? Or did it come on Tuesday, when Trump stepped to a lectern in Trump Tower and delivered a strange de facto defense of white nationalism?

Whatever the turning point, thinking about Trump as a lame-duck president seems a better rubric for making sense of his administration than most. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How the President, the Police, and the Media Embolden the Far-Right

By Clare Foran

When former FBI agent Michael German heard President Trump characterize the deadly violence that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia after white nationalists rallied in support of a Confederate statute as the fault of “both sides,” he saw it as part of a broader pattern.

“I do think there’s blame on both sides,” the president said during a press conference on Tuesday, referring to the deadly events of Charlottesville. “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?,” the president asked. On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”

According to German, the president’s response to Charlottesville is the latest in a series of actions he has taken to side with, and endorse, the viewpoint of far-right ideological movements, and, in the process, push them into the American political mainstream.

The counterterrorism expert who has spent time undercover with American militia movements and neo-Nazi groups as an FBI agent argues that endorsement emboldens the far-right, an umbrella term he uses to encompass a range of ideologies from white nationalists to neo-Nazis to militias to self-described alt-right conservatives.

I spoke with German, who is now a fellow in the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, about the violence in Charlottesville, the way police and the administration responded, and how the media covers white nationalism. A transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, appears below.

Clare Foran: What do you think the consequences will be of the President’s response to Charlottesville?

Michael German: The framing that he used endorsed a far-right viewpoint, the viewpoint of people who would self-identify as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists, and who see themselves as …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Tax Break Dividing the Republican Party

By Russell Berman

There are few more prized constituencies in American politics than small businesses, those emblems and underdogs of Main Street USA that are, as any seasoned officeholder will describe, “the backbone” of the nation’s economy.

And for Republicans trying to sell the public on the job-creating potential of a once-in-a-generation tax overhaul, there may be no handier example than Neutral Posture, the furniture company Rebecca Boenigk runs with her mother, Jaye Congleton, in Bryan, Texas. They launched the business in their garage on January 1, 1989, manufacturing and selling ergonomic chairs designed by Boenigk’s father, an engineer at Texas A&M. Twenty-eight years later, Neutral Posture is not so small anymore: What began as exclusively a chair company now produces entire office suites, right down to the cubicles. Boenigk, the 53-year-old CEO, employs 82 people in Texas, along with some 60 contractors in other U.S. states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Two years ago, Boenigk bought a new product line from Knoll, a prominent furniture-design firm, moving 43 truckloads of equipment 1,200 miles from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to company headquarters in Bryan. The multimillion-dollar acquisition resulted in 10 new salaried employees. And Boenigk is ready to expand again: Neutral Posture needs a new building for its centerpiece chair division. “Things are really starting to pick up and grow for us,” she told me by phone this week. “Right now we’re really working time-and-a-half, because we’ve got so many orders that we can’t get them all out in an eight-hour day. She added, “We need more space, and we need more people.”

Exactly how big Boenigk will build, and how many more people she’ll hire, however, depends to a significant degree on whether Congress expands a tax break that has emerged as a central point of contention among Republicans in their deliberations on tax reform. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Legacy of Confederate Symbols

By Lena Felton

The white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend was a defining moment in Donald Trump’s presidency. But the event, held in protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was only a piece of the larger national debate over the legacy of the Civil War and the symbols associated with it.

From the 2015 shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, which led to protests over the Confederate flag, to the more recent reckoning over secessionist monuments, The Atlantic has wrestled with how these symbols are perceived, and whether Americans should still preserve them.

Here are selections from past coverage of this ongoing debate.

The Long Life of the Civil War

The History of the Confederate Flag

The Flag’s Future After Charleston


Steve Bannon Goes After Asia Officials

By Krishnadev Calamur

At a time when Asia threatens to present the Trump administration with its first real foreign-policy crisis, the White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has said he plans to marginalize the Asia-related bureaus at the U.S. State and Defense Departments, which he views as insufficiently committed to a hard line on China.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in,” Bannon told The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, in a candid interview. “I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

At issue in the interview are Bannon’s views toward China—“We’re at economic war with China”—and what he sees as its inadequate help reining in North Korea. (“On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.” He also said he doesn’t believe there’s a military solution for North Korea.)

Although Bannon’s remarks about those U.S. officials are striking, the senior positions at both State and Defense are technically vacant. Their current occupants are Thornton, a career foreign-service officer who is the acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and David Helvey, who is the acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. The two officials have been at the forefront of the U.S. response to North Korea’s missile tests last month and its threats to strike near Guam, the U.S. territory in the Pacific.

Incoming administrations typically name their own candidates for these senior positions, but the Trump administration has been unusually slow in this regard: At the U.S. State Department, for example, there have been no nominees for 96 out of 141 senior positions that require Senate confirmation, according to a database maintained by the Partnership for Public Service—the highest number of vacancies for any Cabinet-level department. The corresponding figures for the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How to Win Friends and Stigmatize Nazis

By Conor Friedersdorf

Over the weekend, members of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in United States history, gathered for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. They marched alongside Nazis, the self-proclaimed heirs of murderous racists who killed many millions, to express shared regard for Robert E. Lee, who led a traitorous army under the Confederate battle flag in defense of a slave state. In the days since, some of the men who participated openly have been outed by anti-racist activists.

What now?

My colleague Gillian B. White gave a cogent overview of the issues surrounding a campaign to cost them their jobs in her piece “Is Being a White Supremacist Grounds for Firing?”

As she summarized the stakes:

All of these cases indicate that there is real pushback against the trend that my colleague Matt Thompson described over the weekend: that white supremacists feel increasingly comfortable expressing their views in public fora. This is certainly true, but apparently they can’t do so with impunity: The hoods may be off, but the torchbearers may not have jobs to come back to on Monday. The efforts to push employers to fire the offending employees are an example of how the public—but, importantly, not the government—can strengthen the norms against these ideas, attach a stigma to them, and try to move society away from them.

Of course, the consequence of this dynamic is that taboo political ideas of all stripes can lead to workplace sanctions. While many on the political left are now lauding firings as a way to hold white supremacists accountable, it’s also worth remembering that pressuring employers to sever ties based on political activities, or social and racial beliefs, has historically been targeted in the other direction. McCarthyism involved reporting Communists and Communist sympathizers and pushing them out of the workforce, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic