Charlottesville, and the World, Take Stock of Violent Episode

Monday, August 14, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 9.04.15 AM

Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • After a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., led to melees and the death of a 32-year-old woman, the city tried to recover — as the police, in particular, came under criticism.

  • After Charlottesville, will extremist groups return to the margins of politics, or become normalized and enter the national conversation?
  • A statement from the White House, under siege over President Trump’s initial comments, condemned “white supremacists” on Sunday for inciting violence that left a woman dead.

In other news:
  • North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program.
  • The Sinclair Broadcast Group and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission see eye to eye on the need to unleash television. Both are reaping big rewards.
— The First Draft Team

A Hate Crime? How the Charlottesville Car Attack May Become a Federal Case

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a news conference at the Justice Department this month.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a news conference at the Justice Department this month. Zach Gibson for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s announcement that it is opening a civil rights investigation into a deadly car crash into a crowd of people protesting white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., has put a spotlight on what the department’s role may be under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Mr. Sessions was an outspoken conservative senator from Alabama before President Trump appointed him attorney general, and many civil rights advocates view him with suspicion. Under his stewardship, the department’s civil rights division has been pulling back on enforcement of laws on matters like voting rights and police reform.
But when the department announced the civil rights investigation late Saturday, it included a forceful statement from Mr. Sessions: “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
State law enforcement officials have primary jurisdiction to prosecute James Alex Fields Jr., 20, whom they have charged with second-degree murder in an attack that killed Heather D. Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville and injured at least 19 other people. But the department’s announcement raises the question of whether Mr. Sessions could also seek to make it a federal case.
Read more »
President Trump in Bedminster, N.J., on Saturday. He has threatened repeatedly to cut off health care subsidies as a way of getting Democrats to negotiate on the Affordable Care Act.

Health Insurers Get More Time to Calculate Increases for 2018


A decision to extend the deadline for insurance companies to calculate rate increases for 2018 adds to the uncertainty over the future of health care.

Violence broke out at a “Unite the Right” protest and counterprotests in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park.

A Far-Right Gathering Bursts Into Brawls


A white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., became a scene of a constant stream of projectiles as attendees and counterprotesters clashed.

Hundreds of people marched Saturday along a levee toward the Rio Grande to oppose the border wall the administration wants to build.

In South Texas, Threat of Border Wall Unites Naturalists and Politicians


The proposed wall, not yet funded, would slice through private property, including refuges for butterflies and wildlife.

Senator Luther Strange at a Republican Party gathering in Homewood, Ala., last week. The senator is grasping for second place in Tuesday’s special-election primary.

Despite Trump’s Support, Alabama Senator Struggles to a Primary Finish


Senator Luther Strange, a Republican, is in a pitched battle to make the runoff in the special election that will determine whether he keeps his seat.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Rich Lowry in Politico:
“One theory is that Trump and Tillerson are deliberately playing different roles. But there’s good cop/bad cop, and then there’s Keystone Kops.”
Mr. Lowry isn’t sure that the gap between Mr. Trump’s “rhetoric of strategic impatience” and Mr. Tillerson’s “diplomatic pleading” is a deliberate “good cop, bad cop” strategy. Instead, Mr. Lowry said he would like the administration to pick a single strategy and seek a middle ground “toward the goal of regime change.” Read more »
From the Left
• Ryan Cooper in The Week:
“It is not remotely a coincidence that this crisis started gaining momentum from the second Trump took power.”
A wise president with more self-control, Mr. Cooper suggests, could preserve the “status quo” and avoid needless provocation. Former President Barack Obama “instinctively grasped this” and successfully avoided “the worst” during his time in the White House. President Trump could achieve the same with “calm and reason.” Read more »
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