Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and other military vehicles sit on guarded rail cars at a rail yard on July 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump asked the Pentagon for military hardware, including tanks, to be displayed during the 4th of July Salute To America on the National Mall. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Jolt: Donald Trump’s Fourth of July event will feature armor from Fort Stewart

A small but unprecedented array of military armor has been hauled up from Fort Stewart on the Georgia coast for display at President Donald Trump’s personally directed Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall in Washington D.C. From Associated Press:

At least two Army tanks have arrived in Washington ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that President Donald Trump says will include military hardware.

An Associated Press photographer says the two M1A1 Abrams tanks are with four other military vehicles on a freight train in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington.

The vehicles are being guarded by military police but are visible to passers-by on nearby paths. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Rolling armor is only one unusual feature of the Trump-inspired addition to the holiday celebration. Another is Trump himself, who has promised a non-partisan speech. Traditionally, presidents have avoided personal appearances at celebrations of the Fourth.

Our WSB Radio colleague Jamie Dupree walked the ground late Monday:

Three days before a newly planned Independence Day celebration in Washington, D.C. pressed for by President Donald Trump, workers on Monday at the Lincoln Memorial were busily building the stage where the President will speak, setting down red carpet, building sound stages, and prepping the far end of the National Mall for a rival celebration to the annual one held at the U.S. Capitol.

With the President moving the fireworks from their normal spot over the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, the area outside the Lincoln Memorial will now be a VIP gathering spot, where President Trump will speak on Thursday evening.

Named the “Salute to America,” the President's new Independence Day celebration is scheduled to run from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, as the Interior Department says it will honor “America's armed forces with music, military demonstrations, flyovers, and much more.”

The time of the new celebration will not conflict with “A Capitol Fourth” concert, which has anchored festivities for Independence Day since 1981, and is broadcast live by PBS, beginning at 8 pm EDT.

The latter event will be held on the opposite end of the National Mall.

As far as those VIP tickets go, other than White House, one of the few identified organizations passing out the passes is the Republican National Committee. As Dupree notes:

The additional events come at a time when the National Park Service is facing a $2.1 billion backlog of repairs.

The President's change of plans represent the biggest controversy involving Independence Day since the early 1980's, when President Reagan's Interior Secretary banned the Beach Boys from playing on July Fourth, because of excessive parties along the National Mall.

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A team of University of Tennessee academics has looked at the correlations between polling results of U.S. voters in the 2016 presidential race and the trolling activities of the Russia-based International Research Agency. From the paper, which can be read here:

We find that changes in opinion poll numbers for one of the candidates were consistently preceded by corresponding changes in IRA re-tweet volume, at an optimum interval of one week before.

In contrast, the opinion poll numbers did not correlate with future re-tweets or ‘likes’ of the IRA tweets. We find that the release of these tweets parallel significant political events of 2016 and that approximately every 25,000 additional IRA re-tweets predicted a one percent increase in election opinion polls for one candidate.

As these tweets were part of a larger, multimedia campaign, it is plausible that the IRA was successful in influencing U.S. public opinion in 2016.

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One of House Speaker David Ralston’s fiercest online defenders is not a fellow GOP lawmaker but his favorite watering hole: Bada Bings. 

The burger-and-beer joint around the corner from the Capitol is quick to praise the Blue Ridge Republican -- who has a namesake sandwich at the restaurant -- and even quicker to give Ralston’s critics grief. 

But whoever controls the Facebook account for the bar knows a line was crossed the other day. An attack on state Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, who is one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who have called for Ralston’s ouster, was quickly deleted.

The post was a picture of Turner and a conservative analyst who had helped him pass a bill this year.

The post implied the pair was gay, with the caption “celebrating #gaypride.”

Turner captured the image and posted the following on his Facebook page:

It’s sad, really.

For reference, the picture was taken at the Governor’s Mansion immediately following a bill signing. The man pictured is Marc Hyden from R-Street, who was instrumental in passing legislation that keeps Georgia from suspending a professional license because of student loan debt.

On Twitter, Turner went a step further:

Apparently, this place thinks calling someone gay is an insult. Middle school called, they want their humor back.

Also, if Marc was gay, he could do a lot better than me.

A voice from Bada Bings claimed the picture was “posted with goodwill” to honor the LGBTQ community. “It was #GayPride here in #Atlanta our apologies to all,” it wrote. 

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Where in the world is U.S. Rep. John Lewis? The Atlanta Democrat will be near Miami this afternoon, touring a privately-owned detention facility that’s recently received headlines for its treatment of its residents: about 3,000 of undocumented children. Lewis and eight other House Democrats will visit the Homestead, Fla., facility and “investigate the conditions under which detained migrant children are living,” according to the Georgian’s office.

As the Los Angeles Times notes, the site has become an “essential” campaign stop for Democratic presidential candidates in recent weeks:

“Homestead makes a ripe target for those wanting to draw attention to the administration’s broader approach to criminal justice, an issue in which primary voters have high interest.

....Activists here said they were concerned that the unaccompanied children were facing prolonged detention.”

The Trump administration has pushed back against criticism of the conditions there. "There's been a lot of factual misrepresentations or just ignorant statements made about Homestead and frankly, the broader program that we run at HHS," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently told CBS News.

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The Brunswick News reports that Gov. Brian Kemp is making moves that would allow the state to run its own coal ash regulatory program, separate from the federal government. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Georgia would be the second state to take advantage of a new regulatory framework put into place in 2016.

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Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson is the subject of a lengthy profile in Mother Jones. The liberal magazine delves into the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate’s background – including the criticism she received from some African-American groups about her tenure in Columbus:

Tomlinson at times sparred with members of Columbus’ African American community—nearly half of Columbus residents are black—some of whom felt that her revitalization plans excluded them.

When city officials wanted to restore a historic black entertainment district, for example, they didn’t take into account a redevelopment plan put forward by a group of black leaders. (Because of that dispute, the city ultimately decided to pull out, and that land is still dormant.)

“The initiatives she put forth to revitalize downtown Columbus were marvelous, but the same was needed for the black community,” says Nathaniel Sanderson, who served as president of the Georgia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People while Tomlinson was mayor. “The only thing young black kids have to do here is play midnight basketball.”

We’re sure U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s folks would quibble about the magazine labeling the first-term Republican as a “moderate,” but the piece is still worth your time.

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