Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Don’t Know Much About History

This week, a Donald Trump supporter managed to somehow surpass even Donald Trump himself in sheer, unadulterated ignorance of our nation’s history regarding race. Meet Kathy Miller. She is — or was, until this week — Donald Trump’s campaign chair for Ohio’s northeast Mahoning County, and she’s got something to tell you about America and American history: Racism is a relatively new thing. It’s only been around for the last 12 years or so, and that’s President Barack Obama’s fault. That’s right. The nation’s first African-American president is the one who’s really to blame for racism. …“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” she said. “You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to.

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Digby

Nothing Left But The Dog Whistle

I wrote about the conservative movement’s last breaths for Salon today: That day 15 months ago when Donald Trump descended that escalator to announce his candidacy, it was obvious to me that whether or not he won, he was going to turn the race into something we had never seen before. He had massive celebrity and a lot of money, and he was tapping into a groundswell of anger over immigration that had shocked the political world just a year earlier when the incumbent House majority leader (Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia) was defeated in a primary largely because of that issue. It was foolish for political insiders to laugh at the possibility that Trump could go all the way. But they did. And they’ve had to play catch-up ever since. The mainstream Republican establishment was knocked for a loop.

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Richard Eskow

Immigrants Don’t Steal Jobs or Wages. Billionaires Do.

With the advent of Donald Trump, what was once covert in the Republican message has become overt. Yesterday’s dog whistle is today’s screaming siren. Case in point: anti-immigrant bigotry, which was most recently expressed in Donald Trump Jr.’s recent “Skittles”-themed Twitter attack on Syrian refugees. Think about that. Don Jr. compared people who are fleeing horrific violence to … tiny candies. This emotional inability to distinguish human beings from inanimate objects, and therefore to empathize with their suffering, seems to border on the sociopathic. Even Wrigley, the candy’s manufacturer, distanced itself in a statement that said: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it is an appropriate analogy.” But anti-immigrant arguments aren’t always based solely on fear or dehumanization.

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Jeff Bryant

Solutions To The Teacher Shortage Crisis Even Republicans Will Like

A new report is making big headlines for showing that public schools across the nation are experiencing severe problems with teacher shortages that are apt to develop into a “crisis” if left unaddressed. The report from an education think tank called the Learning Policy Institute took off from last year’s widespread news stories that reported how schools were “struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science, and special education.” Where this new report goes way beyond last year’s news stories is that it draws from a deep well of statistical validity, meticulous analysis, and wise counsel.

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Dave Johnson

How Clinton Can Use The Debate To Change The National Discussion

Everyone has an opinion on what Hillary Clinton should do in the Monday’s debate, and this is mine. Hopefully I will be wrong enough to earn a regular column on the New York Times op-ed page. This election season so far has been about Donald Trump, and not about the real problems facing the country and We the People. The national discussion certainly has not been about things that can be done to make people’s lives better. Donald Trump talks about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton talks about Donald Trump. The news media talks about Donald Trump, even breaking into news shows to cover live anything Donald Trump might be saying. As a result everyone talks about Donald Trump. Clinton and issues and ideas are almost invisible. In Monday’s debate, Hillary Clinton should be a model of how the country should be treating Trump and his deplorable campaign.

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Terrance Heath

Trump Promises Nationwide Stop-And-Frisk Policing

Leave it to Donald Trump to stand in black church, before a somehow still overwhelmingly white audience, and promise to implement New York City’s racist, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policing nationwide. In the past week, Donald Trump has insulted an African American pastor who dared bring him back into line when he visited her church, used a cynical attempt to brush aside his years of race-baiting birtherism (a ploy that not even his fellow birthers actually bought) to promote his new hotel, and joked once again about assassinating Hillary Clinton. It was hard to imagine how he might top himself, but once again Trump proved it’s never a winning bet to assume he can’t go any lower. This week, Trump managed to outdo himself again. On Monday, the Trump campaign dropped a television spot featuring Ted Nugent.

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Jim Hightower

Union-Made Miracle on the Hudson

In their ongoing, all-out assault to crush labor unions, corporate forces have fabricated a cultural myth to undermine popular support for labor: Unions, they insist, are no longer needed. They tell us that in today’s entrepreneurial economy, workers must compete with each other, not cooperate. Before swallowing that wad of hornswoggle, let’s revisit Flight 1549. As it took off from New York City in 2009, the jet hit a flock of geese, lost all power, and had nowhere to try a crash landing. But Captain Sully Sullenberger knew what to do. He used the Hudson River as a landing strip. Amazingly, it worked. Dubbed the “miracle on the Hudson,” all 150 passengers were saved.

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Dave Johnson

Republicans ‘Working The Ref’ With War On IRS

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was forced to testify on Wednesday before a Republican impeachment committee. Republicans are doing this because the IRS (under a previous commissioner) dared to check whether organizations applying for special IRS nonprofit status were following the law or illegally promoting candidates. Republicans in Congress want to send the IRS and other government agencies a clear message: If government employees try to make corporate/conservative movement organizations follow the laws and rules, Republicans will make their lives miserable, bankrupt them and ruin their careers. And thanks to the huge sums of “dark” money flowing to Republican candidates from billionaires and corporations, they have the power to do it. “Targeting” There has been a big brouhaha over the IRS “targeting” conservative groups.

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Robert Reich

My Coffee with a Trump Supporter

I finally found a Trump supporter – this morning when I went to buy coffee. (I noticed a Trump bumper sticker on his car.) “Hi,” I said. “Noticed your Trump bumper sticker.” “Yup,” he said, a bit defensively. “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but I’m curious. Why are you supporting him?” “I know he’s a little bit much,” said the Trump supporter. “But he’s a successful businessman. And we need a successful businessman as president.” “How do you know he’s a successful businessman?” I asked. “Because he’s made a fortune.” “Has he really?” I asked. “Of course. Forbes magazine says he’s worth four and a half billion.” “That doesn’t mean he’s been a success,” I said. “In my book it does,” said the Trump supporter.

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Terrance Heath

When Will Black Lives Finally Matter To Donald Trump?

For all his bloviating about “law and order,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has yet to express any serious outrage over police killings of unarmed African-Americans. Will he now, after two more police-involved shootings of black men in the past week? Terence Crutcher was just trying to get home on Friday night. The 40-year-old father of four, who sang every week in his church choir, had just gotten out of his music appreciation class at Tulsa Community College. His SUV broke down in the middle of the road. Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby and her partner happened upon Crutcher en route to another call. Officer Shelby called for backup. Four more officers, including her husband, responded. A police helicopter hovered overhead.

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Bill Scher

Most States Suing To Block EPA Carbon Caps Have Nothing To Cry About

If you need any more evidence that knee-jerk obstructionism has ravaged the modern Republican Party, here’s one more data point. Twenty-one of the the 27 states suing the EPA to prevent implementation of its Clean Power Plan, requiring cuts in carbon emissions, are already on track to meet the plan’s requirements. In other words, they have literally no reason to complain, let alone sue. Yet sue they have. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the states’ trumped-up case next Tuesday. (If the appellate court decides the Clean Power Plan is constitutional, a probable 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court would allow the plan to survive.) Reuters reports: Already, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Dakota appear to be meeting the CPP’s early targets.

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Richard Eskow

Wells Fargo Had a Bad Day. That’s a Start.

People who came looking for drama in Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf’s Senate testimony on Tuesday did not come away disappointed. Stumpf was called before the Senate Banking Committee after his bank was fined $185 million for opening more than two million accounts in customers’ names, without their knowledge or consent, over a five-year period. We now know that these two million phony accounts, and the 5,300 employees held responsible, may not reflect the full extent of the wrongdoing. Stumpf announced that the bank had agreed to extend its review of its misconduct to 2009 and 2010, and said he would consider reviewing earlier years as well. Witness for the Prosecution Stumpf squirmed, shifted and shuffled under the relentless questioning of Sen.

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Leo Gerard

Morning in America, Delivered by Democrats

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week. The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity. That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent.

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Amber York

Michigan Leads Nation … In Denying Child Care To Low-Income Families

The cost of child care is one of the biggest expenses facing many families in the United States. For some, the cost is more than their rent or mortgage payment. Low income families especially struggle to find affordable child care. Child care providers are among the lowest paid workers, are most likely to be living in poverty, and barely making ends meet for their own families. Yet, lawmakers in Michigan are about to walk away from $20.5 million in federal funding for child care because they won’t commit to spending $7.5 million in state money to help working families. Michigan has the disappointing distinction of being the state that returns the most unused federal funding dollars every year. In 2014, Michigan missed out on $9.3 million of federal funding. Michigan’s limit on the amount of income a child care assistance recipient can earn is also the lowest in all 50 states.

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Dave Johnson

Banks Used Low Wages, Job Insecurity To Force Employees To Commit Fraud

The manager instructed her to push accounts but not to tell the customers about the downfalls and fees of new accounts. “Make them read the paperwork.” She replied, “But you know no one ever reads the paperwork.” His response: “Exactly.” You might have heard that Wells Fargo Bank was busted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for opening millions of fraudulent accounts – ruining customer credit scores and finances to rack up profits from big fees – and had to pay a $185 million fine. You might have heard that the bank said management didn’t know about the 1.5 million to 2 million fraudulent accounts that were racking up big profits, gave the head of the division responsible for those accounts a $125 million bonus, blamed low-level employees and fired more than 5,000 of them.

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Richard Eskow

7 Hard Rounds of Questions for John Stumpf, Wells Fargo CEO

“There was no incentive to do bad things,” said Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, after his bank was hit with $190 million in fines and restitution because employees fraudulently opened more than 2 million accounts over a five-year period without customers’ knowledge or consent. Then he sent an email to bank customers saying he had changed the employees’ incentive plan “to insure that (employees) are compensated on what matters most.” That’s called “trying to have it both ways.” After the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealed this pattern of fraud, Wells Fargo announced it has fired approximately 5,300 employees for this practice over the last five years. Clearly something was wrong with their incentives.

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Dave Johnson

Where Are The Issues?

You know those TV segments where they go out and ask regular Americans things like “Who is the Vice President?” and “Should we allow immigration from New Mexico?”, and the people-on-the-street give answers like, “What’s a Vice President?” and “I think we should send all the Muslims back to New Mexico”? Apparently the people working in America’s “news” media would do even worse if forced to answer similar questions. Corporate Media Not Covering Issues America’s news media used to cover actual news and felt a responsibility to provide information to citizens in a democracy. Now, they don’t.

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Robert Reich

Trump’s Yuge Bamboozle

Donald Trump poses as a working-class populist, but about his new economic plan would be a gusher for the wealthy. And almost nothing will trickle down to anyone else. He’d knock down the top tax rate on businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent, thereby richly rewarding the investor class. He’d cut taxes the top tax rate on the wealthy from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, another boon to the top. He’d eliminate the estate tax – now paid by a relative handful of families whose net worth exceeds $5.5 million. Not incidentally, this is an especial windfall for the Trump family. If Trump is worth as much as he says, his heirs would get a tax break of $4 billion to $7 billion. He’d let global corporations pay just a 10 percent tax rate on untaxed offshore profits – another mammoth gift to big shareholders.

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Bill Moyers

There’s No Debate

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship Let’s call the whole thing off. Not the election, although if we only had a magic reset button we could pretend this sorry spectacle never happened and start all over. No, we mean the presidential debates — which, if the present format and moderators remain as they are, threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas. We had a humiliating sneak preview Sept. 7, when NBC’s celebrity interviewer Matt Lauer hosted a one-hour “Commander-in-Chief Forum” in which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke with Lauer from the same stage but in separate interviews.

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Richard Eskow

Despite Some Good Economic News, The Status Quo Is Not Enough

Should Democrats present themselves as fighters for a transformative economic vision, or as skilled managers whose job is to restore and maintain the status quo of the last several decades? The question came up again last week, when new economic data for 2015 was released. President Obama told a Philadelphia crowd: “… last year, across every age, every race in America, incomes rose and the poverty rate fell …the typical household income of Americans rose by $2,800, which is the single biggest one-year increase on record … We lifted 3.5 million people out of poverty. That’s the largest one-year drop in poverty since 1968. The uninsured rate is the lowest it has been since they kept record. The pay gap between men and women shrank to the lowest level ever.” It’s all true, and it’s a welcome burst of unexpected good news. These are major advances by any standard.

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