The world is truly moving too fast. Or at least it is in the United States of America, the flickering beacon of democracy. It seems like more stuff happened in the States in the past week than we experience in a typical month, or even a year. For simplicity’s sake, I will revert to the tried-and-true dodge of bullet points:
- On Monday, trying to do a little damage control after his notorious “both sides” comment about the Charlottesville, Va. white supremacist demonstration/riot, Trump read a prepared statement saying “racism is evil”. When Trump reads a prepared statement, he always sounds like a child reading from a book report written by his parents. It was entirely unconvincing, but it helped to tamp down the firestorm of criticism that greeted his remarks after the Charlottesville killing.
- On Tuesday, Trump undid what little he had accomplishment by engaging in a wild, off-the-top-of-his-weirdly-coiffed head press conference that caused a collective jaw-drop across the country. In a combative exchange with aghast reporters (he could have simply walked away and said nothing, but he’s not the kind of person to say nothing), Trump went back to his first comment, calling it “very fine”, said there were “good people” even on the neo-Nazi/white supremacist side, apportioned blame to the counter-protesters for attacking the Nazis (who, after all, had a permit!), and finished it all by bragging about his winery (“one of the largest in the country”) located in Charlottesville. It’s worth reading the entire transcript, which you can do here. Most TV news people were stunned by the comments. Even some Fox News people, who are unflinching in their support of Trump, couldn’t believe it; one reporter said it almost brought her to tears, and one especially right-wing commentator called his comments “a moral disgrace”. To be fair, Trump did go after the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, but his desperate bid to stay in their good graces by levelling blame on both sides backfired in the worst possible way. Apparently his strategy (if it can be said he has a strategy for anything) worked, because he did get rave reviews from a couple of sources: former KKK leader David Duke, who wrote “God Bless You for setting the record straight for ALL AMERICANS”, and from Richard Spencer, head of a white nationalist group, who said he was “proud of him for speaking the truth.” When Nazis and racists are giving you an ‘atta boy!’, you might want to reconsider what you’ve said. (For a truly chilling look at the Charlottesville incident, check out this Vice News report from inside the demonstration. It’s the horror movie of the year.)
- On Wednesday, members of Trump’s hand-picked economic advisory council, top execs from major corporations, began to bail from the council. So many quit that Trump just abandoned the whole thing. Also, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, got awfully chatty with the media, contradicting Trump’s position on North Korea, criticizing colleagues in the administration and mocking Trump officials over trade policy.
- On Thursday, Trump weighed in on the controversy over statues to Confederate heroes, saying the statues were “beautiful” and it was “foolish” to remove the statues.
- On Friday, he fired his chief strategist Steve Bannon, almost the last man standing of his original set of advisers.
- On Saturday, Bannon was back at work at Breitbart, his extreme right-wing website. Friends (which apparently exist) says that Bannon is going nuclear now that he is unchained from the White House.
And remember … Trump was on vacation this week.
But it’s not all bad news …
On the plus side, the reptilian Ezra Levant’s far right website The Rebel is in serious trouble. After one of his “reporters” named Faith Goldy gave sympathetic coverage to the alt-right protest (the fact that The Rebel sent a correspondent to a white power/Nazi gathering speaks volumes about the site), there was a mass exodus of sponsors and employees from Levant’s little money-maker. Conservative politicians won’t go near the site anymore. You can read the details in this National Post story, and watch the video from a former employee who was offered “hush money” from Levant. It’s damning to say the least.
The last word on Fildebrandt
Derek Fildebrandt was at one time a star in the Wildrose party. Now, he’s a politician without a party.
After it was revealed that Fildebrandt was charged with hit-and-run, the ex-Wildrose finance critic finally admitted defeat, and left the new UPC party. The demise of Fildebrandt has all the earmarks of a political hit. After he blasted former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, saying he was not a leader, suddenly the media was tipped off to all sorts of stuff: renting his government-subsidized apartment for is personal gain; a few minor cases of expense account screw-ups (chump change, in the area of $200); and now the emergence of the old hit-and-run charge. I suspect that people inside the ex-Wildrose caucus wanted desperately to rid themselves of a troublesome member, and orchestrated a series of leaks to the media. Mission accomplished.
This week in atrocities
ISIS may have been routed in their base of operation in Iraq last month, but the international organization of evil has long tentacles. This week, a van smashed through the tourist-clogged street called Las Ramblas, in Barcelona, killing 13, including a Canadian. A woman died in a second vehicle attack early on Friday in the town of Cambrils. Five suspected jihadists were shot dead by police in the second attack. And it turns out that a house explosion earlier in the week in a town called Alcanar was connected to the 12-person terror cell. Police say 120 gas canisters were found in the house, and the terrorists were planning to use them in vehicle attacks. Meanwhile, peaceful Finland has its first terrorist incident when a man went on a stabbing spree in Turku, killing two women. The suspect, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker who arrived in Finland last year, was shot in the leg.
Joseph Bologna, 82, American comic actor you’ve no doubt seen, but don’t know his name. His best roles were as the tyrannical Sid Caesar-like TV star in the fine comedy My Favorite Year, and in the little seen but hilarious The Big Bus … Dick Gregory, 84, pioneering black stand up comic who brought race issues to the comedy stage, and who later devoted his life to “agitating”. As he said: “The next time you put your underwear in the washing machine, take the agitator out, and all you’re going to end up with are some dirty, wet drawers!”