You’ve probably never heard it mentioned on TV, but President Obama is outdoing President Reagan in what used to be one of conservatives’ favorite ways to judge the economy — private sector jobs.
At the current pace more than 10 million private sector jobs will be created in Obama’s second term, well over a half million more than were created in Reagan’s second term, which Republicans glorified as “Morning in America.” It’s true that the workforce was much smaller in the 80s, but job creation under Obama doubled that under the last two president Bushes combined years ago — with the best years coming as key Obama policies like the Affordable Care Act and tax increases on the rich took effect.
Reagan’s second term saw more jobs created overall because public sector hiring was five times stronger in the eighties than it is now. Was Reagan a better socialist than Obama? Nope, starving public investment was all about one thing — denying this president any measure of effectiveness.
The defining fact of Obama’s presidency is its success despiteincessant Republican attempts to sabotage it.
“The recovery since 2009 has been historically slow, and the disappointing pace can be explained entirely by the fiscal austerity imposed by Republicans in Congress,” The Economic Policy Institute reported early this month.
As elected Republicans undermined the president’s economic plans, shut down the government rather than allow him to implement the health care plan he’d been reelected on, turned epidemics like Ebola and Zika into partisan issues, and refused to even consider his final Supreme Court appointment, the right and its powerful media machine did everything they could to delegitimize Obama.
From the first fake story about Obama being schooled in a madrassa that Fox and Friends debuted in early 2007 to today, the right looked for ways to “otherize” the president and cast suspicion on his origins and motives.
No one has nurtured or exploited these suspicions more than the current Republican nominee for president.
Before birtherism, Donald Trump was a sad guy’s idea of a rich guy who ran for president when he had a book to sell. But by being the most famous person willing to attack Obama’s citizenship by exploiting racist paranoia, he become an extremist macher, an important endorser in 2012, and the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.
Trump’s entire campaign is built on defining Obama as “un-American” and here’s how he’s still doing it as he seeks to win the president’s job.
- Completely negating the president’s accomplishments.
Trump speaks about America as if it were embroiled in a mix of the financial crisis of 2008 and the racial unrest of 1968, combined with the massive influx of undocumented immigrants that mostly happened around the turn of this century. In reality, job creation is at an eight-year high, banks are better regulated and far more stable, crime is at or near historic lows (as is net immigration), while the percentage of insured Americans has never been higher. While not perfect, Obama’s administration is a sterling success — especially compared with the recessions left us by our most recent Republican presidents. Trump denies Obama any credit for his accomplishments and smears him as a disaster — but he isn’t convincing many people who don’t despise Obama already. When Trump’s 33 percent approval rating and disapproval in the 60s is contrasted with Obama’s approval over 50 percent, America seems to get who is the real failure.
- Pulling privilege when it comes to releasing his own documents.
Trump claimed he was just interest in the getting the truth when he sought Obama’s birth certificate and then college records — documents that other candidates had all produced. It was a whiff of nonsense, meant to cover the stench of racism rising from the birther campaign. But now the hypocrisy is just sickening, as Trump seeks to become the first major party nominee since Watergate to withhold his federal tax returns. We have proof that Trump at the very least overstates his wealth and charitable donations. His returns are the best hope of documenting those claims and more. Trump’s new birtherism — attacking Hillary Clinton’s health with no evidence — is as ridiculous as his own joke of a medical record, produced in five minutes while a limo was waiting.
- Basing his entire campaign on hyped dangers he accuses Obama of ignoring.
Trump acts if his ideas to bomb ISIS, vet refugees, and deport criminals are novel, rather than policies that Obama has so fully engaged as to arouse outrage in many of his liberal allies. Trump’s premise isn’t that he’ll do better than Obama. Like much of the the conservative base he believes that Obama isn’t on “our” side — an argument infused with demented racial undertones that would be difficult to pin on a Republican nominee for president if Trump didn’t explicitly suggest it over and over.
- Conflating the president of the United States with terrorists.
When Trump spent half a week saying that Obama was literally the “founder” of ISIS, he was reheating an argument he’s made for years. The most recent iteration had been to say “there’s something going on,” over and over as Trump did after the horrific shooting in Orlando. It’s a sick accusation of treason against the president of the United States and Trump has trafficked in such associations for years.
- He’s literally still a birther.
Trump doesn’t talk about being a birther anymore, and the supine press seems fine with that, but he never disavowed the theory that made him a conservative superstar. The Republican nominee won’t say whether he thinks the current president is a citizen. And with all these questions about his fake revisions to his immigration policies, no one dares to ask him the inevitable question: “Do you plan to deport Barack Obama?”
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Sunday’s New York Times goes through the long history of Trump and his organization’s racial biases.
She seemed like the model tenant. A 33-year-old nurse who was living at the Y.W.C.A. in Harlem, she had come to rent a one-bedroom at the still-unfinished Wilshire Apartments in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. She filled out what the rental agent remembers as a “beautiful application.” She did not even want to look at the unit.
There was just one hitch: Maxine Brown was black.
Stanley Leibowitz, the rental agent, talked to his boss, Fred C. Trump.
“I asked him what to do and he says, ‘Take the application and put it in a drawer and leave it there,’” Mr. Leibowitz, now 88, recalled in an interview…
Over the next decade, as Donald Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle.
The Justice Department undertook its own investigation and, in 1973, sued Trump Management for discriminating against blacks. Both Fred Trump, the company’s chairman, and Donald Trump, its president, were named as defendants. It was front-page news, and for Donald, amounted to his debut in the public eye.
…an investigation by The New York Times — drawing on decades-old files from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, internal Justice Department records, court documents and interviews with tenants, civil rights activists and prosecutors — uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties, in New York and beyond.
Chrissy Teigen and Katrina Pierson (Photos: Wikipedia and Screen capture)
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s spokesperson Katrina Pierson has been caught in some humiliating performances on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC over the past several months. But the latest Twitter exchange takes the cake.
Notorious anti-Trumpster Chrissy Teigen and The Donald had it out on Twitter last December, but Pierson either suddenly thinks that Teigen’s latest Twitterstorm mockery was genuine solidarity or Pierson is finally admitting her job really is nothing more than a joke.
Here’s how Teigen began:
I relate to @KatrinaPierson in the way that I would also be an incredibly horrible choice of campaign spokesperson
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 28, 2016
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) August 28, 2016
Can you imagine giving up as hard as @KatrinaPierson?
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 28, 2016
Not many of us could wake up and do what @KatrinaPierson does every day with a straight face. What an inspiration.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 28, 2016
That last one is certainly true. It can’t be easy being Pierson, or as Larry Wilmore called her, spokesgoblin Katrina Pierson. The former late-night comedian once called her out as he “watched the bullsh*t pour out of her mouth.”
But it got better:
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 28, 2016
Mt. Rushmore with Koch logo super-imposed on photo
The federal government’s landholdings and control of water could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.
*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
In normal circumstances when an anniversary arrives the farthest thing from anyone’s mind is that it may be the last, unless it is a ninety-third wedding anniversary of a couple not expected to survive another year due to a terminal disease. When a nation celebrates an anniversary, unless the country is in its death throes due to being on the brink of being overrun and conquered by a vastly superior force, one expects to continue the yearly anniversary celebrations into perpetuity. However, America is now celebrating a notable anniversary and if the Koch brothers have their way, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t, it is highly unlikely that Republicans will ever allow the nation to celebrate again.
The White House sent out a reminder this weekend that this year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and besides acknowledging the work of its employees, it encouraged Americans to “get outside and explore.” What the White House didn’t say, and the media has woefully ignored, is that Republicans in service to the Koch brothers, fossil fuel industry, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Utah Mormons are actively attempting to put an end to not only America’s national parks, wilderness areas, and monuments, but the concept of government-owned public lands.
The Koch brothers, and Utah Mormons, were long-time crusaders pushing Republicans to force the federal government to hand over all public lands to private enterprise to rape and pillage at their pleasure, and public lands was an all-inclusive term that included national parks, wilderness areas and protected environs. That greedy intent gained some publicity and only came to the fore after a Mormon rancher summoned armed militias to Nevada to wage war on federal officials doing their jobs of protecting Americans’ public lands from greedy interlopers.
The story gained a little more attention when that same Nevada Mormon rancher’s son seized federal property in another state and dared federal officials to intervene and take back the people’s land. Throughout both instances, while Republicans were resolutely defending the Mormons’ actions, they were also busy crafting legislation in Mormon Utah and Koch’s Congress to force the government to hand over ownership of public lands to the mining, oil, and logging industry to denude forests, gouge out the land, and drill for oil.
This attempt by the Kochs and Mormons to seize control of even more American land is no longer just a “Western states” issue; it is a major plank in the official Republican Party platform and very few Americans seem to care, if they are aware it’s happening at all. If any Americans didn’t think Republicans, driven by the Kochs and using ALEC template legislation, would make eliminating national parks and seizing all public lands the official position of the Republican Party at the state and federal level, the official Republican Party platform should be informative, if not infuriating. The Koch-Republican official position is:
“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey [hand over] certain federally controlled public lands to the states, call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified. The federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.”
In calling for an “immediate full-scale disposal” of “certain” public lands, the Koch-GOP was clever in not explicitly defining exactly which lands it would apply to so they can take all public land and hand it over to private enterprises with impunity. Obviously, the Kochs and their dirty cohort want to seize national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and national forests for their own use and profit and Republicans are ferociously doing their bidding.
If any American thinks that any and all national parks and protected areas are off limits, consider that there are already Republican attempts to force uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, and have cut National Park Service funding drastically to force corporate “sponsorship” as a means of fulfilling budget requirements. However, now that transferring public lands to private ownership is “officially” a Republican policy with pending legislation waiting for a Republican president to sign, the idea of Americans visiting national parks, like recreating on public lands and waterways, is in jeopardy of vanishing.
As an aside, there was some reporting on the GOP’s Koch-driven land grab, including Americans’ national parks, but there was also a “certain” website claiming it just wasn’t true. The website is popular for debunking myths and claimed that the GOP platform did not mention eliminating national parks unambiguously so the reports were fraudulent. That may be technically true, but it is also being extremely pedantic, embarrassingly naïve and just ignorant on its face. Anyone with an ounce of intellect knows that the GOP will never alert the public to their true intent and in this case there is more than enough evidence that when the GOP says “certain lands,” they mean any and all lands the Koch brothers and Mormons believe they can profit from.
This repulsive official position of the Koch-Republicans should be an issue Democrats seize upon to beat Republicans up and down ballot to within an inch of their pathetic political lives. Many Americans could not possibly care less that Republicans embrace Donald Trump’s bigoted and racist beliefs like a cherished religion, or that Trump is enamored with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, or that a presidential aspirant is notorious for bankrupting anything he touches, but none of those “issues” affect them personally. But what they will care about is that Republicans are taking yet another asset away from them for the sake of the wealthy few.
National Parks and wilderness areas are wildly popular among Republican and Democratic voters alike and the idea of being denied access to “their own public land” and “their own National Parks” because Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers need more wealth is a serious issue for Democratic candidates at the state, national, and local level, but only if they are savvy enough to use it. Based on not hearing a whisper about the Koch-GOP’s official intent to seize public lands, including National Parks, it is questionable if Democrats even know Americans care about and want to preserve their National Parks. Happy 100th Anniversary National Parks Service! The Koch-Republicans and Utah Mormons are working furiously to make sure it’s your last.
Source: Mina Lee
The dog days of summer were particularly dogged this year. July clocked in as the hottest month on record, marking the midpoint of what is likely to be thehottest year on record. With sweltering temperatures came a litany of crummy climate news — floods in Louisiana, Zika in Miami, searing heat waves across the Northeast — with dire implications for human health.
Last year’s Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change warned that the carbon crisis could undo the last half-century of progress in public health. And yet, for many, it remains unclear how climate change could land them in the hospital. Just one in four Americans can identify the ways that rising temperatures threaten their health.
To clarify that link, Climate Nexus and the American Public Health Association developed a series of infographics that illustrate the connection between climate change and all manner of life-threatening illness. [Disclosure: Climate Nexus and Nexus Media are both sponsored projects ofRockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.]
Let’s begin with air quality. Climate change is producing shorter winters and longer summers, extending allergy season. Warmer weather is also worsening pollution by fueling the formation of ozone. Heat and drought are setting the stage for wildfires, like the blaze recently seen in California, which produce smoke, threatening respiratory health.
Rising temperatures are also producing longer and more severe heat waves, like the scorcher that just descended on the East Coast. Extreme heat can lead to dehydration and stroke. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable.
With extreme heat, expect to see more mosquitos. According to an analysisfrom Climate Central, climate change is extending mosquito season across the United States, expanding the range of vector-borne diseases, like Zika, which just made landfall in Florida.
Finally, severe storms, like the torrent that just hit Louisiana, are damaging infrastructure, leaving those many of those affected without food, shelter or access to clean water.
The good news is that slashing planet-warming carbon pollution would be a boon for public health. The Lancet Commission said that tackling climate change “could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.” Drastically reducing emissions from cars, planes, and power plants wouldn’t just curb the rise in temperatures. It would also prevent millions of deaths from air pollution.
As the country shifts to clean energy, we can expect big measurable gains in public health. For Americans currently sweating it out in the summer heat, that might offer a little consolation.
Photo: A coal-burning power plant can be seen behind a factory in the city of Baotou, in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region October 31, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo – RTSMVQ1
His name doesn’t even appear in the book.
But make no mistake. “Hillbilly Elegy,” the new bestseller by J.D. Vance, is, in a very real sense, about Donald Trump. More to the point, it’s about the people who have made his unlikely run for the presidency possible.
It is also, not coincidentally, a book about being invisible. Not H.G. Wells invisible, with objects seeming to float in mid-air. Rather, Ralph Ellison invisible, when you are right there in three dimensions, but somehow, unseen.
First and foremost, though, Vance’s book is a memoir about growing up hardscrabble and white in clannish, insular communities in Kentucky and Ohio. It was a tough, unstable life. Vance was in and out of his mother’s house — she was a drug user with a procession of boyfriends and husbands — and was raised mostly by his grandparents — “Papaw” and “Mamaw.”
Mamaw was no June Cleaver. A gun-toting “lunatic” with a menthol cigarette forever dangling from her lips, she was rumored to have once almost killed a man who stole from her family. Her favorite descriptive term was the verb form of the F-word. But her love for her grandson was iron.
That grandson did a hitch in the Marines, went to college, went to law school at Yale. But he never lost a certain tough-minded pride of people and place.
“I may be white,” writes Vance, now a Silicon Valley investment executive, “but I do not identify with the WASPs of the Northeast. Instead, I identify with the millions of working-class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degree. To these folks, poverty is the family tradition — their ancestors were day laborers in the Southern slave economy, sharecroppers after that, coal miners after that, and machinists and mill workers during more recent times. Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends and family.”
In other words, Vance’s people are Trump’s base. And the book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand Trump’s appeal. “Hillbilly Elegy” is a compelling and compassionate portrait of a people politicians seldom address and media seldom reflect.
They love Trump because he sees them.
Yes, he’s a racist clown who lies like bunnies copulate. Yes, he appeals to their lowest selves, to their hatreds and fears. But hesees them and speaks to them, something neither Democrats nor Republicans do. When you feel yourself forgotten, when work and hope have fled, when you live by a tough-minded pride of people and place, yet also by a whisper of embarrassment that your people and place are so often sick, unschooled and hungry, the simple fact of being seen and spoken to is powerful.
The one great flaw in Vance’s book is a disingenuous near-silence on his kinsmen’s attitudes about race. And a passage wherein he claims their antipathy toward Barack Obama has “nothing to do with skin color” but rather, with the fact that he is “brilliant, wealthy, and speaks like a constitutional law professor” is flat out intellectually dishonest.
Obama is hardly the first politician to be smart, rich and well-spoken. He is, however, the first to be hounded into producing his long form birth certificate.
Still, that flaw does not outweigh Vance’s triumph, which is to give substance and dimension to those America has made invisible. Democrats, Republicans and media struggling to comprehend the forces that have upended politics should be asking themselves a question. Donald Trump shattered the paradigm because he sees J.D. Vance’s people.
Why is he the only one who does?
Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.
The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.
They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.
“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?” said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman.
As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.
In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia.
“Moscow views world affairs as a system of special operations, and very sincerely believes that it itself is an object of Western special operations,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, who helped establish the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008. “I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories.”
The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.
The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATOand the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia.
The Kremlin’s clandestine methods have surfaced in the United States, too, American officials say, identifying Russian intelligence as the likely source of leaked Democratic National Committee emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The Kremlin uses both conventional media — Sputnik, a news agency, and RT, a television outlet — and covert channels, as in Sweden, that are almost always untraceable.
Russia exploits both approaches in a comprehensive assault, Wilhelm Unge, a spokesman for the Swedish Security Service, said this year when presenting the agency’s annual report. “We mean everything from internet trolls to propaganda and misinformation spread by media companies like RT and Sputnik,” he said.
The fundamental purpose of dezinformatsiya, or Russian disinformation, experts said, is to undermine the official version of events — even the very idea that there is a true version of events — and foster a kind of policy paralysis.
Disinformation most famously succeeded in early 2014 with the initial obfuscation about deploying Russian forces to seize Crimea. That summer, Russia pumped out a dizzying array of theories about the destruction ofMalaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, blaming the C.I.A. and, most outlandishly, Ukrainian fighter pilots who had mistaken the airliner for the Russian presidential aircraft.
The cloud of stories helped veil the simple truth that poorly trained insurgents had accidentally downed the plane with a missile supplied by Russia.
Moscow adamantly denies using disinformation to influence Western public opinion and tends to label accusations of either overt or covert threats as “Russophobia.”
“There is an impression that, like in a good orchestra, many Western countries every day accuse Russia of threatening someone,” Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a recent ministry briefing.
Tracing individual strands of disinformation is difficult, but in Sweden and elsewhere, experts have detected a characteristic pattern that they tie to Kremlin-generated disinformation campaigns.
“The dynamic is always the same: It originates somewhere in Russia, on Russia state media sites, or different websites or somewhere in that kind of context,” said Anders Lindberg, a Swedish journalist and lawyer.
“Then the fake document becomes the source of a news story distributed on far-left or far-right-wing websites,” he said. “Those who rely on those sites for news link to the story, and it spreads. Nobody can say where they come from, but they end up as key issues in a security policy decision.”
Although the topics may vary, the goal is the same, Mr. Lindberg and others suggested. “What the Russians are doing is building narratives; they are not building facts,” he said. “The underlying narrative is, ‘Don’t trust anyone.’”
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images