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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Trump's 10-minute 'racism' talk heralds no change in anyone's views

President Donald Trump delivers remarks Monday on the

President Donald Trump delivers remarks Monday on the weekend's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Trump spoke in the White House's Diplomatic Reception Room. At left is Vice President Mike Pence. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

Call to inaction?

In a televised speech, President Donald Trump on Monday urged citizens to "condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy." He termed the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio "an assault upon our communities," as Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez reports.

But it remains as doubtful as ever that he can or will get the federal government to take action that would prevent this kind of massacre, or even that he will change his own bellicose rhetoric

Despite alluding on Twitter to a need for "strong background checks" for gun sales, he didn't elaborate on that in his 10-minute speech. Trump instead recited already-viral GOP fallback points about social media, video games, mental illness and "hate."

Democratic leaders found the words wanting. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, "For the president to say there’s no place for hate is one of the great hypocritical statements of all time." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump remains "prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA."

Trump hinted at support for improving "red flag" laws meant to enable law enforcement to identify deranged people who should be banned from buying firearms. With or without White House input, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he reached a deal with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on a bill that would start a federal grant program to help and encourage states to test these programs.

The president approached the end of his speech, recited from a TelePrompter, with a stunning gaffe. “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” he said, naming an Ohio city 150 miles from Dayton where Sunday's massacre was carried out. One day earlier Democratic candidate Joe Biden competed with him on the flub front, mourning "the tragic events in Houston today and also in Michigan the day before."

The full remarks are here.

Trumpism and its tie-ins

While the death toll in the El Paso massacre reached 22, and prosecutors said they'd seek capital punishment for suspect Patrick Crusius, some commentators noted overlaps between the president's calling illegal immigration a criminal "invasion" and the text of Crusius' xenophobic "manifesto" as posted on an extremist-friendly web channel. For his part, Crusius said online his opinions preceded Trump's presidency.

The Dayton shootings had a very different, seemingly apolitical aspect. Former classmates from high school said the shooter, Connor Betts, was suspended for compiling a "hit list" of those he wanted to kill and a "rape list" of girls he wanted to sexually assault. Betts was shot to death after allegedly killing his own sister and eight others in the weekend massacre.  

As the fate of court schedules would have it, bomb-mailing Trump enthusiast Cesar Sayoc was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, Newsday's John Riley reports.

Sayoc sent ineffective homemade pipe bombs to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats. His lawyers argued Sayoc suffered from mental illness and that his violent actions were inspired by his having become "a Donald Trump superfan."

Words and consequences

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said Monday that Trump should stay away from her hometown of El Paso. "From my perspective, he is not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning," she said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

"I would encourage the president's staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies."

Former congressman and presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke was less polite when a reporter asked a rather tame question about what Trump could do to address the issues.

O'Rourke said in part: "I mean, connect the dots about what he's been doing in this country. He's not tolerating racism, he's promoting racism. He's not tolerating violence, he's inciting racism and violence in this country. So, um, you know, I just, I don't know what kind of question that is... He's been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don't know, like, members of the press, what the [bleep]?" 

How China leads yuan

China let its currency, the yuan, sink to an 11-year low against the dollar, suggesting a possible surge in cheaper Chinese exports and competition with foreign goods. 

Trump complained of currency manipulation. China’s central bank allowed the yuan’s exchange rate to sink below the politically sensitive level of seven per dollar.

Coming in the context of a deepening trade war, the move sank stocks on many exchanges from London to Shanghai.

What else is happening:

  • Not everyone, of course, would point a finger at the president over mass shootings. Candice Keller, a Republican Ohio state representative, cites "open borders," same-sex marriage, transgender rights, Colin Kaepernick, Barack Obama, and “drag queen advocates.”
  • Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said U.S. sanctions against him marked a diplomatic “failure” and suggested they were imposed after he declined an invitation to meet Trump at the White House. 
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign tweeted a satirical photo of fake tombstones, including one featuring an opponent’s name.
  • Britain reported that it agreed with the U.S. on a project to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats.

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