Without Saying ‘Trump,’ George W. Bush Delivers an Implicit Rebuke – New York Times

Former President George W. Bush never mentioned his name but delivered what sounded like a sustained rebuke to President Trump on Thursday, decrying nationalism, protectionism and the coarsening of public debate while calling for a robust response to Russian interference in American democracy.

In a speech in New York, Mr. Bush defended free trade, globalization and immigration even as Mr. Trump seeks to raise barriers to international commerce and newcomers from overseas. He condemned the “casual cruelty” he sees in public discourse and denounced white supremacy two months after Mr. Trump suggested that “both sides” were to blame at a neo-Nazi rally that turned violent in Virginia.

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” Mr. Bush said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

The former president said these afflictions have created a crisis of confidence in the United States that has endangered its historic ideals. “In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity,” he said. “Americans have great advantage. To renew our country we only need to remember our values.”

Mr. Bush addressed these issues at a bipartisan conference that his presidential center sponsored in New York to promote democracy and freedom. Since leaving office in January 2009, he has largely sought to avoid engaging in current-day political struggles, even as he promotes issues he has long cared about like the spread of democracy around the world.

His speech on Thursday seemed a clear rejoinder to Mr. Trump in various ways. Asked by a reporter as he left the hall whether his message would be heard in the White House, Mr. Bush smiled, nodded slightly and said, “I think it will.”

The Bush family has never been fond of Mr. Trump, who beat former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida for the Republican presidential nomination last year. Neither the former president nor his father, former President George Bush, voted for Mr. Trump last November. But advisers said the younger Mr. Bush has been deeply troubled by the state of the national debate under a president who routinely demonizes his adversaries on Twitter.

“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children,” Mr. Bush said in his speech. “The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

Mr. Bush, who issued a statement with his father condemning white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August, returned to the theme. “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” he said.

Along with the conference, the president released a paper examining threats to the liberal democratic order and making recommendations for protecting and strengthening American institutions. The paper was drafted by Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser in Mr. Bush’s White House, and Thomas O. Melia, a former State Department official under President Barack Obama.

The conference also featured a panel with two former secretaries of state, Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine K. Albright, joining Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Ms. Rice, who served under Mr. Bush, and Ms. Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, seemed to gently coach Ms. Haley, urging the Trump administration to rethink its cuts to the State Department budget and its approach to the United Nations, to protect rather than attack the news media and to make a stronger response to Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Ms. Albright said the disparity between the Pentagon and State Department budgets was “crazy” and deprived the president of necessary resources. “We do not have a lot of tools,” she said. “It is necessary to have a functioning diplomatic service.”

Ms. Haley said the president’s budget proposal to slash the State Department budget by one-third was not meant to be enacted in its original form. “It was just his conversation point,” she said. “He was starting a conversation.”

Ms. Rice and Ms. Albright also pressed the administration to take Russia’s interference in last year’s election more seriously. Ms. Rice, a longtime Russia scholar, said that past Soviet disinformation campaigns were “clumsy” but last year’s effort was “highly sophisticated.”

“My own view is if they do this to us once it’s their fault,” she said. “If they do this to us twice, it’s ours.”

That is one area where Ms. Haley has been in agreement, even though she is working for a president who derides the “Russia story” as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats and the media.

“The Russians, God bless them, they’re saying, ‘Why are Americans anti-Russian and why have we done the sanctions?’” Ms. Haley said. “Well, don’t interfere in our elections and we won’t be anti-Russian. We have to be so hard on this and we have to hold them accountable.”

Mr. Bush echoed that in his own speech. “America has experienced a sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions,” he said. “According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other.” He added: “We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our election system from subversion.”

The former president acknowledged the forces of discontent that have given rise to Mr. Trump. “We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization,” he said. “People are hurting. They’re angry and they’re frustrated. We must hear and help them. But we cannot wish globalization away any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution.”

Correction: October 19, 2017

An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misspelled the given name of a former secretary of state. She is Madeleine K. Albright, not Madeline.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter @peterbakernyt.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

White nationalist Richard Spencer to noisy Florida protesters: You didn’t shut me down – Los Angeles Times

About 700 free tickets were available for the event and were supposed to be distributed outside the venue on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Spencer’s website, AltRight.com. Weapons were banned from the event, along with a wide range of other items, including water bottles, masks, shields and hats.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

John Kelly’s fiery defense of Trump’s shot at Obama and Gold Star phone call, annotated – Washington Post

White House Chief of Staff john Kelly on Oct. 19 criticized Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) for comments she made at an FBI building dedication in 2015. (Reuters)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly stood up for his boss, President Trump, during a media briefing on Thursday, telling reporters that he is the one who told Trump that previous presidents typically did not call the families of fallen troops and hailing Trump as “brave” for being willing to do so.

Obama administration alumni have hammered Trump for suggesting on Monday that his predecessor was insufficiently compassionate toward Gold Star families. And Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) said Wednesday that she overheard what she considered an insensitive remark by Trump when the president phoned the family of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four servicemen killed in a recent ambush in Niger. Johnson’s mother told The Washington Post that “Trump did disrespect my son.”

The Fix has annotated Kelly’s remarks, using Genius. To view an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.

KELLY: So I just wanted to perhaps make more of a statement than an — give more an explanation than a — what amounts to be a traditional press interaction.

Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines or Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens. Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine and sends them home.

Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead, and then they’re flown to, usually, Europe, where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the — with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.

A very, very good movie to watch, if you haven’t ever seen it, is “Taking Chance,” where this is done in a movie, HBO setting. Chance Phelps was killed under my command right next to me. And it’s worth seeing that, if you’ve never seen it. So that’s the process.

While that’s happening, a casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on. And then he knocks on the door. Typically, the mom and dad will answer, the wife. And if there is a wife, this is happening in two different places. If the parents are divorced, three different places. And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until — well, for a long, long time. Even after the internment. So that’s what happens. Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces.

Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any one of them. But they are the very best that this country produces. And they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required. But that’s all right.

Who writes letters to the families? Typically, the company commander. In my case, as a marine, the company commander, battalion commander, regimental commander, division commander, secretary of defense, typically, the service chief, commandant of the Marine Corps and the president, typically, writes a letter.

Typically, the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they can imagine, and that is from their buddies. In my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from Afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was.

Those are the only phone calls that really matter. And, yes, the letters count a degree, but there’s not much that really can take the edge off what a family member is going through.

So, some presidents have elected to call. All presidents, I believe, have elected to send letters.

If you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you can imagine. There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.

When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it, because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.

He asked me about previous presidents, and I said I can tell you that President Obama, who was my commander in chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing.

I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any president, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high, that presidents call.

But I believe they all write. So, when I gave that explanation to our president three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the case of the four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month.

And then he said, you know, what — how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you have never worn the uniform, if you have never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call.

I think he very bravely does make those calls.

The call in question that he made yesterday, day before yesterday now, were to four family members, the four fallen. And, remember, there’s a next of kin designated by the individual. If he’s married, that’s typically the spouse. If he’s not married, that’s typically the parents, unless the parents are divorced, and then he selects one of them.

If he didn’t get along with parents, he will select a sibling.

But the point is, the phone call is made to the next of kin, only if the next of kin agrees to take the phone call. Sometimes, they don’t. So, a pre-call is made.

The president of the United States or the commandant of the Marine Corps or someone would like to call. Will you accept the call? And, typically, they all accept the call.

So, he called four people the other day, and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could.

And he said to me, what do I say?

I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families. But let me tell you what I tell them. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me, because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war.

And when he died — and the four cases we’re talking about Niger, in my son’s case, in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends.

That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.

I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing, a member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero.

He knew what he was getting himself into, because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation, absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases. Life, the dignity of life was sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well. Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer.

I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this earth. And you can always find them, because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.

I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there, because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.

I’ll end with this. And in October — or April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty. And I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 by the name of Grogan (ph) and Duke (ph).

Grogan almost retired, 53 years old. Duke, I think less than a year on the job. Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, now retired.

So, we go down. Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and the — and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well and law enforcement so well.

There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were only 3 or 4 years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.

And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down.

And we were stunned, stunned that she’d done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, okay, fine.

So, I still hope, as you write your stories, and I appeal to America, that let’s not let this maybe last thing that is held sacred in our society, a young man, a young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country, let’s try to somehow keep that sacred.

But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Oct. 19 defended President Trump’s call to the widow of a soldier killed in action. (Reuters)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

George W. Bush’s anti-Trump manifesto, annotated – Washington Post

Former president George W. Bush spoke on Oct. 19 at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute in New York. (The Bush Center)

George W. Bush delivered an unexpected and rather eloquent speech against Trumpism and its offshoots on Thursday at a George W. Bush Institute event in New York. It marked the first time the former president seemed to weigh in at length on what has happened during Trump’s brief tenure. And while a lot of the blows weren’t totally direct, the target of the speech became clearer as it went on.

Below is the whole transcript, with our annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.

Thank you all. Thank you. Ok, Padilla gracias. So, I painted Ramon. I wish you were still standing here. It’s a face only a mother could love – no, it’s a fabulous face. I love you Ramon, thank you very much for being here.

And, Grace Jo thank you for your testimony. And, big Tim. I got to know Tim as a result of Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Bush Center along with the Clinton Foundation, with help from 41 and LBJ’s libraries.

I am thrilled that friends of ours from Afghanistan, China, North Korea, and Venezuela are here as well. These are people who have experienced the absence of freedom and they know what it’s like and they know there is a better alternative to tyranny.

Laura and I are thrilled that the Bush Center supporters are here. Bernie [Tom Bernstein], I want to thank you and your committee. I call him Bernie.

It’s amazing to have Secretary Albright share the stage with Condi and Ambassador Haley. For those of you that kind of take things for granted, that’s a big deal. Thank you.

We are gathered in the cause of liberty this is a unique moment. The great democracies face new and serious threats – yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.

Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies. At one level, this has been a raw calculation of interest. The 20th century featured some of the worst horrors of history because dictators committed them. Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other.

And free trade helped make America into a global economic power.

For more than 70 years, the presidents of both parties believed that American security and prosperity were directly tied to the success of freedom in the world. And they knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership.  This mission came naturally, because it expressed the DNA of American idealism.

We know, deep down, that repression is not the wave of the future. We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity. We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

This is not to underestimate the historical obstacles to the development of democratic institutions and a democratic culture. Such problems nearly destroyed our country – and that should encourage a spirit of humility and a patience with others. Freedom is not merely a political menu option, or a foreign policy fad; it should be the defining commitment of our country, and the hope of the world.

That appeal is proved not just by the content of people’s hopes, but a noteworthy hypocrisy: No democracy pretends to be a tyranny. Most tyrannies pretend they are democracies. Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy. That has not changed, and that will not change.

Yet for years, challenges have been gathering to the principles we hold dear. And, we must take them seriously. Some of these problems are external and obvious. Here in New York City, you know the threat of terrorism all too well. It is being fought even now on distant frontiers and in the hidden world of intelligence and surveillance. There is the frightening, evolving threat of nuclear proliferation and outlaw regimes. And there is an aggressive challenge by Russia and China to the norms and rules of the global order – proposed revisions that always seem to involve less respect for the rights of free nations and less freedom for the individual.

These matters would be difficult under any circumstances. They are further complicated by a trend in western countries away from global engagement and democratic confidence.  Parts of Europe have developed an identity crisis. We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union.

America is not immune from these trends. In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy.  Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War, or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning.  Some have called this “democratic deconsolidation.” Really, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness.

We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.

We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.   We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge.

In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.

This is part of the reason we meet here today. How do we begin to encourage a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets? That’s the question I posed to scholars at the Bush Institute. That is what Pete Wehner and Tom Melia, who are with us today, have answered with “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World,” a Call to Action paper.

The recommendations come in broad categories. Here they are: First, America must harden its own defenses. Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

The second category of recommendations concerns the projection of American leadership – maintaining America’s role in sustaining and defending an international order rooted in freedom and free markets.

Our security and prosperity are only found in wise, sustained, global engagement:  In the cultivation of new markets for American goods. In the confrontation of security challenges before they fully materialize and arrive on our shores. In the fostering of global health and development as alternatives to suffering and resentment. In the attraction of talent, energy and enterprise from all over the world. In serving as a shining hope for refugees and a voice for dissidents, human rights defenders, and the oppressed.

We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization. People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution. One strength of free societies is their ability to adapt to economic and social disruptions.

And that should be our goal: to prepare American workers for new opportunities, to care in practical, empowering ways for those who may feel left behind. The first step should be to enact policies that encourage robust economic growth by unlocking the potential of the private sector, and for unleashing the creativity and compassion of this country.

A third focus of this document is strengthening democratic citizenship. And here we must put particular emphasis on the values and views of the young.

Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

Finally, the Call to Action calls on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust.

For example, our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate and fair. Our democracy needs religious institutions that demonstrate integrity and champion civil discourse. Our democracy needs institutions of higher learning that are examples of truth and free expression.

In short, it is time for American institutions to step up and provide cultural and moral leadership for this nation.

Ten years ago, I attended a Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague. The goal was to put human rights and human freedom at the center of our relationships with repressive governments. The Prague Charter, signed by champions of liberty Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar, called for the isolation and ostracism of regimes that suppress peaceful opponents by threats or violence.

Little did we know that, a decade later, a crisis of confidence would be developing within the core democracies, making the message of freedom more inhibited and wavering. Little did we know that repressive governments would be undertaking a major effort to encourage division in western societies and to undermine the legitimacy of elections.

Repressive rivals, along with skeptics here at home, misunderstand something important. It is the great advantage of free societies that we creatively adapt to challenges, without the direction of some central authority. Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and a genius for renewal.

Right now, one of our worst national problems is a deficit of confidence. But the cause of freedom justifies all our faith and effort. It still inspires men and women in the darkest corners of the world, and it will inspire a rising generation. The American spirit does not say, “We shall manage,” or “We shall make the best of it.” It says, “We shall overcome.” And that is exactly what we will do, with the help of God and one another.

Thank you.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

George W. Bush: ‘Bigotry seems emboldened’ in US – The Hill

Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that “bigotry seems emboldened” in the United States, warning that Americans need to reject “white supremacy.”

The former president also criticized the “governing class,” but did not specifically mention President Trump, Congress or any other politicians in office.

“Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts” in recent years, Bush said in remarks from New York City at a forum focused on security and sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seem more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” said Bush, who has generally stayed out of the public spotlight since leaving the White House in 2009.

Bush also said that public confidence in the country’s institutions has declined in recent decades, and warned against “a new era of cyber threats” including Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“Ultimately this assault won’t succeed, but foreign aggressions including cyber attacks, disinformation, and financial influence should never be downplayed or tolerated,” he said.

The remarks by Bush represent a rare entry into the public debate by the former president, whose family was criticized by Trump during an election cycle where he defeated former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination.

Fears about a rise in bigotry across the country have increased over the last year, making a crescendo with protests in Charlottesville, Va., in August between white supremacist groups and counter-protestors. One woman was killed when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protestors.

Trump later came under fierce criticism from politicians in both parties for remarks that blamed both sides for the violence.

“Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said in his remarks.

A spokesman for Bush denied that the former president was criticizing Trump in Thursday’s speech.

“This was a long-planned speech on liberty and democracy as a part of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative,” Freddy Ford told The Hill. “The themes President Bush spoke about today are really the same themes he has spoken about for the last two decades.”

The former president also offered support for globalization, a term increasingly criticized by political figures on the left and the right who see increased trade as eroding U.S. jobs.

Bush, who advocates free trade, promoted multilateral and bilateral trade deals during his presidency. Trump is now demanding that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico be renegotiated, under the threat of a U.S. withdrawal.

“We cannot wish globalization away,” Bush said, urging society to “adapt” to economic and social change.

During his speech, Bush also warned that democracies face “new and serious threats” today.

Economic, political and national security challenges “proliferate,” he said.

“And they’re made worse by the tendency to turn inward,” he said. “The health of the Democratic spirit itself is at issue and the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.”

Bush said that the intensity of support for democracy itself has “waned.”

“Especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning,” he said.

“Some have called this Democratic de-consolidation. Merely, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers and forgetfulness,” he said.

“Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy,” he said.

-Updated 12:53 p.m.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Richard Spencer, police and protesters descend on Univ. of Florida – CNN

The event, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, will be Spencer’s first planned visit to a college campus since he and others participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
University and local officials are concerned that Thursday’s event could also become violent, and they have taken a number of steps to prevent that.
On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County, where the university is located, to enable law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently. He also made a provision for the National Guard to be activated if necessary.
“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott said in the executive order declaring the state of emergency.
The event puts the university in the middle of an ongoing debate about what constitutes protected speech and the extent of its limits. Spencer is the president of the National Policy Institute and a leader of the white supremacist movement that advocates for a white “awakening” and a white state.
“America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us,” he said in a speech last November.
University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs denounced Spencer’s white supremacist platform as abhorrent in a letter to students but said the school could not stop him from renting the Phillips Center for the event.
Fuchs told CNN there will be more police on campus Thursday than at any time in the university’s history.
“It’s not going to feel like a research university for 50,000 students, and the whole purpose of that is to keep people safe,” he said.
Florida Highway Patrol officers stood outside the Curtis M. Phillips Center on Wednesday as they prepare for Richard Spencer's speech.Florida Highway Patrol officers stood outside the Curtis M. Phillips Center on Wednesday as they prepare for Richard Spencer's speech.
Fara Moskowitz, the president of the Lubavitch-Chabad Student Group at the university, said it was a “very weird time on campus” ahead of the protests.
“There’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of anxiety,” she said. “There’s a lot of just unknown what’s going to happen.”
With scores of police in position, protesters began arriving outside the Phillips Center on Thursday.
Craig Carlisle, from Gainesville, held up a sign saying “No Trump Nazis.” He said he had a message for Spencer: “Don’t be racist.”
Colt Fears, a 28-year-old wearing a pin he described as “an S.S. thing,” came to Gainesville from Houston to support Spencer. He said he agrees with about 75% of what Spencer says, but said he thinks Spencer sometimes “beats around the bush.”
“He won’t address that our entire Hollywood media is run by the Zionist media. He won’t address that. There’s certain things he won’t talk about that people in our movement want him to talk about,” Fears said.

Florida’s response

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Spencer said he was flattered by the state of emergency declaration, which he said put him on par with “hurricanes and invading armies and zombie apocalypses.”
Still, he said he thought the declaration was overkill.
State of emergency declared ahead of white supremacist speech in FloridaState of emergency declared ahead of white supremacist speech in Florida
“The fact is, if the police simply do their job, my speech and the whole event will go off wonderfully,” Spencer said.
Previous speeches from Spencer on college campuses have sparked protests, including at Texas A&M in December and Alabama’s Auburn University in April. He also led a group of supporters carrying torches in May in Charlottesville in a display that critics said evoked images of the Ku Klux Klan.
That rally set the stage for violent protests that erupted in Charlottesville in August between white nationalists and counterprotesters. There, police say a man among the white nationalist demonstrators drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman.
Spencer returned to Charlottesville in October with dozens of supporters carrying tiki torches and chanting phrases like “You will not replace us.”
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chris Sims said the office used the lessons of Charlottesville in planning for the Florida event. The sheriff’s office and Gainesville Police Department had doubled or in some cases tripled their normal staffing levels as of Wednesday morning, Sims said.
Outside the speech venue, law enforcement sectioned off one area for pro-Spencer protesters and another area for anti-Spencer protesters, each about 50 yards apart. The university also banned an extensive list of items, including torches, masks, weapons and athletic equipment that could be used as a weapon.
It remains unclear how many people are expected to attend or protest the speech. A Facebook event called “No Nazis at UF” that planned to peacefully protest against Spencer had about 3,000 marked as going.
Fuchs, the university president, advised students to shun Spencer and to speak against his “message of hate and racism.”
“UF has been clear and consistent in its denunciation of all hate speech and racism, and in particular the racist speech and white nationalist values of Mr. Spencer,” Fuchs said. “I personally find the doctrine of white supremacy abhorrent and denounce all forms of racism and hate.”
By law, the school must pay for the additional costs of security. Given the heightened concerns, the school is providing extra security that exceeds $600,000, Fuchs said.
That cost will essentially be passed on to taxpayers, which Fuchs said was unfair.
“I really don’t believe that’s fair that the taxpayer is now subsidizing through these kind of events the security and having to subsidize his hate speech,” he said.

How we got here

Spencer and the National Policy Institute first requested to rent speaking space at the university in August. After violent white nationalist protests broke out in Charlottesville, the University of Florida administration denied the National Policy Institute’s initial speaking request, citing specific threats of violence.
White supremacist Richard Spencer denied at University of FloridaWhite supremacist Richard Spencer denied at University of Florida
As a public university, Florida is prohibited from stopping the event based on the contents or views of the speech, Fuchs said. The university provided a permit for Spencer to speak, but the event is unaffiliated with the school, and no student groups sponsored the speech or invited Spencer, the university said.
Still, Fuchs did take one positive lesson from what he called Spencer’s “anti-American” message.
“The one thing that comes out of this, though, is it is prompting a great discussion around race and religion and the value of diversity of that on a university campus,” Fuchs said.

CNN’s Rosa Flores and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Donald Trump just suggested the FBI, Democrats and Russia might all be co-conspirators – CNN

This is, of course, somewhat common fare by this point in the arc of Trump’s presidency. Faced this week with storylines he doesn’t like — questions about the Niger attack, controversy over a phone call he placed to the widow of one of the soldiers lost in that attack, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill facing questions about Russian meddling in the election — he aims to change the subject via his Twitter feed. And he often does so by lobbing out a conspiracy theory with only the loosest ties to the factual world.
But even by Trump standards, this morning’s tweet is somewhat remarkable. He is suggesting that a dossier prepared by a former member of British intelligence has not only been totally discredited (it hasn’t — more on that in a minute) but that it might have been funded by some combination of Russia, the Democratic Party and, wait for it, the FBI!
Let’s start with the facts.
At issue is a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, which details explosive allegations about potential ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. The dossier’s more salacious elements regarding Trump have drawn most of the attention — and remain totally unproven. But it appears as though US intelligence officials do take some chunk of what Steele found quite seriously.
“Its broad assertion that Russia waged a campaign to interfere in the election is now accepted as fact by the US intelligence community. CNN also reported earlier this year that US investigators have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, specifically that some of the communications among foreign nationals mentioned in the memos did actually take place.”
Investigators tied to special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election have also sat down with Steele to discuss the dossier and his findings, according to CNN reporting. The firm hired to produce the dossier — Fusion GPS — is refusing to testify before Congress about its involvement. (Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson spent 10 hours meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee staff back in August.)
Trump has the fact of that refusal basically right. But his assertions that the dossier is fake news, “totally made-up stuff” or, as was the case in Thursday’s tweet, “discredited” are not born out by the facts as we know them. “Not corroborated” is not the same thing as “not true.” Some (many?) of the allegations in the Steele dossier may be untrue. But we simply don’t have enough information to conclude that they are at the moment.
So Trump is wrong about the dossier being “discredited and Fake.” (He is also wrong about capitalizing “fake” in that sentence. But, I digress.)
The bigger issue — at least to me — is that Trump is suggesting that the dossier itself was funded by some combination of a foreign power, the opposition political party and a federal law enforcement agency.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at the very suggestion and dismiss that idea as just Trump being Trump. “You guys always take him literally,” Trump’s supporters will say. “You shouldn’t!”
OK. But here’s the thing: President Trump is, um, the President. Which means he is held to the same standard every past president is held to. And by that standard, this tweet is crazy.
Port yourself six years back in time. It’s 2011. President Barack Obama takes to Twitter to say that the stories over his place of birth are the result of a joint China-Republicans-CIA operation designed to discredit him.
How do you think that one would sit with the average American?
The point here is that it is deeply irresponsible for a president of the United States to even flirt with this sort of conspiracy talk. You can love Donald Trump and still believe that the idea that the Russians, the Democrats and the FBI co-funded a dossier designed to discredit Trump’s 2016 campaign is totally bonkers.
Unfortunately, lots and lots of Trump backers will believe this stuff solely by dint of the fact that Trump tweeted it. And that, of course, is Trump’s goal. Muddy the waters and discredit the ongoing investigations into what Russia did in the 2016 election. Make the whole thing into a partisan witch hunt.
But, there is no plausible scenario by which what Trump suggested this morning — a wide-scale conspiracy involving three separate actors across federal agencies and continents — actually happened. That we can’t (won’t?) agree on that seemingly obvious fact is troubling.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Ohio Republican announces plans to leave Congress – The Hill

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) announced Thursday that he is leaving Congress before the end of his term to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable.

“Today, it is with a humble and thankful heart that I announce I will not be seeking reelection,” Tiberi said in a statement Thursday. “While I have not yet determined a final resignation date, I will be leaving Congress by January 31, 2018.”

“I have been presented with an opportunity to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable that will allow me to continue to work on public policy issues impacting Ohioans while also spending more time with my family,” he continued. “Leaving Congress is not a decision I take lightly but after a lot of consideration, it is the best one for me, my wife, Denice, and our four wonderful daughters.”

Tiberi, who was first elected to Congress in 2000, is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, leading its health subcommittee. He also serves as chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.

The New York Times first reported Tiberi’s expected resignation.

President Trump carried Tiberi’s central Ohio district by approximately 11 points in 2016, 53.2 to 41.9 percent, over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Republican Mitt Romney topped former President Barack Obama, 54.4 percent to 43.9 percent, in the 12th District in 2012.

The report comes after Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) recently announced that he does not plan to run for reelection.

Last month, two moderate Republicans —Reps. Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Charlie Dent (Pa.) — also announced surprised retirements, sparking worries in some members of the GOP about whether the party could hold the House majority.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

President Trump’s $25000 Check to Father of Slain Soldier Is in the Mail, White House Says – PEOPLE.com

A check for $25,000 from President Donald Trump to the family of a slain soldier is in the mail, the White House says — after the solider’s family said they had never received the promised money.

In a call to Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, The Washington Post reported that Trump offered the money and added that he would have his staff establish an online fundraiser for the family. The call came weeks after the 22-year-old and two fellow soldiers were killed by an Afghan police officer.

“I said, ‘Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,’ ” Baldridge said. “I feel like he got murdered over there.”

Facebook

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that the money was on its way.

“The check has been sent,” she said, according to The Post. “It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda.”

RELATED VIDEO: Mother of Slain Soldier La David Johnson Confirms Trump ‘Did Disrespect My Son’

The Post notes that President Barack Obama took 18 months to send an undisclosed amount of money promised to the family of Kayla Mueller, who died in 2015 while she was held captive by the Islamic State in Syria. The sum was sent only after a report by ABC News called attention to the situation. Obama later described the delay as an oversight.

U.S. Rep Frederica Wilson told reporters on Tuesday that Trump called Myeshia Johnson on Tuesday and said her husband Sgt. La David T. Johnson “knew what he signed up for… but when it happens it hurts anyway.”

Evan Vucci/AP

Trump’s 5-minute call came as Johnson was on her way to Miami International Airport – just before her husband’s body arrived from overseas, said Wilson, who was accompanying the family. Wilson said she overheard the conversation.

Myeshia Johnson is pregnant with the couple’s third child and is due in January. They share a 2-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.

Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to deny Wilson’s version of events, claiming he could prove he didn’t say those words to the widow.

“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof),” he wrote. “Sad!”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Trump blasts ‘Fake Media’ for ignoring Russia uranium deal sealed ‘with Clinton help’ – Fox News

Fox News Judicial Legal Analyst Greg Jarrett on whether Hillary Clinton accepted bribes during the uranium deal with Russia and the Clinton email investigation.

President Trump accused the “Fake Media” on Thursday of ignoring new details about the 2010 approval of a controversial uranium deal with a Russian company, amid scrutiny of potential “conflicts of interest” for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

“Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!” Trump tweeted.

A day earlier, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, vowed at a public hearing to “get to the bottom of this issue.” This was as The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S. — yet the Obama administration approved the uranium deal benefiting Moscow anyway. 

Trump on Thursday also took another Twitter swipe at the firm behind the controversial anti-Trump dossier, after Fusion GPS officials took the Fifth during an appearance on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

“Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” he wrote.

The president and his allies occasionally have cited both the dossier – a salacious document whose origin is shrouded in mystery, but linked to a company that allegedly did business with Russian figures – and the uranium deal to counter allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, effectively arguing Democrats have links to Moscow, too. 

As for the Russia company probe, The Hill reported overnight that Grassley is seeking permission to interview the FBI informant who helped agents uncover the corruption. His lawyer Victoria Toensing told The Hill that the informant was prevented from disclosing certain information to the courts and Congress after signing a nondisclosure statement and was threatened by Justice officials when he tried to reveal some information in a lawsuit last year.

Grassley on Wednesday released a series of letters he fired off last week to 10 federal agencies, addressing his concerns in detail and raising the question of whether the committee that approved the uranium transaction was aware of the FBI probe. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) included then-Secretary of State Clinton.

The deal in question, which was previously reported, involved the 2010 approval of a partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. 

Grassley wrote in his letters that he’s not “convinced” by previous “assurances” that there were no unresolved national security concerns. Grassley, in his hearing remarks and letters, raised two key issues.

It had been previously reported that figures tied to the transaction gave donations to Bill Clinton and his family foundation, but Grassley wrote that he has learned additional details about a $500,000 fee the former president got from a Russian investment bank for a June 2010 speech. He wrote that the bank’s senior officers include former Russian intelligence personnel, and sources had described the company as an “extension” of the Russian government.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., look to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., look to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“Notably, in the same month as the Clinton speech, Uranium One and Rosatom notified CFIUS of the Russian government’s intent to acquire twenty percent of the United States’ uranium assets. The next month, in July 2010, Renaissance Bank reportedly assigned Uranium One a ‘buy’ rating, a move that would principally benefit its Russian investors,” Grassley wrote. “The donations raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest for Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration.”

Further, Grassley raised concerns about the FBI probe into “corruption and extortion” involving employees of a Rosatom subsidiary dating back to 2009 – before the 2010 approval.

As noted in The Hill, the feds did eventually go after Vadim Mikerin, a Russian nuclear industry official, in connection with the investigation. He was later sentenced, in 2015, to 48 months in prison in connection with money laundering allegations. 

But Grassley wants to know whether the committee that approved the transaction was aware of the ongoing criminal probe at the time.

When details of the Uranium One deal first emerged in 2015, Clinton’s campaign downplayed the allegations. 

“No one has produced a shred of evidence that Hillary Clinton ever took action as Secretary of State in order to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation,” a spokesman said at the time. “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless.” 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)