POLITICS 02/14/2018 09:30 pm ET
Florida Republicans’ Offers Of Prayers Invite Accusations Of Hypocrisy
Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott have long fought against gun control legislation.
By Nick Visser, Huffington Post
Shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) tweeted that “Today is that terrible day you pray never comes.”
Florida Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott were swift to condemn the horrific school shooting in their state on Wednesday afternoon, offering prayers after a gunman killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Scott called for “thoughts and prayers” as news of the shooting emerged, and Rubio sent off a tweet calling the shooting an event “you pray never comes.”
But both men have a history of coziness with gun advocates, receiving “A+” ratings and endorsements from the National Rifle Association ahead of their respective elections in 2014 and 2016. The distinction is reserved “for legislators who have excellent voting records on Second Amendment issues and who have vigorously fought to promote and defend the right to keep and bear arms.”
During a Republican presidential primary debate in 2015, Rubio said new gun laws were “ineffective” and “infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” A few months later, he went out and bought a gun on Christmas Eve.
Critics were quick to remind the lawmakers of their track records of voting against gun restrictions that could help prevent tragedies like the one in Parkland
A short video message from Senator Nelson.
© Provided by The Hill
More than a dozen lawmakers last month met with a Yale University psychiatry professor for two days to discuss President Trump’s fitness for office, Politico reported Wednesday.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee reportedly met with the group of lawmakers on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 and warned them the president is “going to unravel.” All of the lawmakers in attendance were Democrats, except for one Republican senator.
“We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency,” Lee told Politico.
Lee edited “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a collection released last October of testimonials from more than two dozen psychiatric experts assessing Trump’s mental state.
The White House has in recent weeks brushed aside questions about Trump’s physical and mental fitness.
On Wednesday, a reporter asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if Americans should be “concerned about the president’s mental fitness” after Trump tweeted that he has a “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear launch “button” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Sanders said there should be concern over Kim Jong Un’s mental fitness.
Some used Trump’s tweet to renew discussion over the 25th Amendment, which allows for the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet to declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and remove him. It has never been invoked.
In December, Trump appeared to slur his words during a speech announcing the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The White House blamed the issue on a dry throat. Trump is scheduled for his first physical exam as president on Jan. 12. His military physician will make the results public.
With just 18 days before President Trump completes his first year as president, he is now on track to exceed 2,000 false or misleading claims, according to our database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
As of Monday, the total stood at 1,950 claims in 347 days, or an average of 5.6 claims a day. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.)
As regular readers know, the president has a tendency to repeat himself — often. There are now more than 60 claims that he has repeated three or more times. The president’s impromptu 30-minute interview with the New York Times over the holidays, in which he made at least 24 false or misleading claims, included many statements that we have previously fact-checked.
We currently have a tie for Trump’s most repeated claims, both made 61 times. Both of these claims date from the start of Trump’s presidency and to a large extent have faded as talking points.
One of these claims was some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and “essentially dead.” The Congressional Budget Office has said that the Obamacare exchanges, despite well-documented issues, are not imploding and are expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. Indeed, healthy enrollment for the coming year has surprised health-care experts. Trump used to say this a lot, but he’s quieted down since his efforts to repeal the law flopped.
Trump also repeatedly takes credit for events or business decisions that happened before he took the oath of office — or had even been elected. Sixty-one times, he has touted that he secured business investments and job announcements that had been previously announced and could easily be found with a Google search.
With the successful push in Congress to pass a tax plan, two of Trump’s favorite talking points about taxes — that the tax plan will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history and that the United States is one of the highest-taxed nations — have rapidly moved up the list.
Trump repeated the falsehood about having the biggest tax cut 53 times, even though Treasury Department data shows it would rank eighth. And 58 times Trump has claimed that the United States pays the highest corporate taxes (25 times) or that it is one of the highest-taxed nations (33 times). The latter is false; the former is misleading, as the effective U.S. corporate tax rate (what companies end up paying after deductions and benefits) ends up being lower than the statutory tax rate.
We also track the president’s flip-flops on our list, as they are so glaring. He spent the 2016 campaign telling supporters that the unemployment rate was really 42 percent and the official statistics were phony; now, on 46 occasions he has hailed the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years. It was already very low when he was elected — 4.6 percent, the lowest in a decade — so his failure to acknowledge that is misleading.
An astonishing 85 times, Trump has celebrated a rise in the stock market — even though in the campaign he repeatedly said it was a “bubble” that was ready to crash as soon as the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates. Well, the Fed has raised rates three times since the election — and yet the stock market has not plunged as Trump predicted. It has continued a rise in stock prices that began under President Barack Obama in 2009. Again, Trump has never explained his shift in position on the stock market.
Moreover, the U.S. stock-market rise in 2017 was not unique and mirrored a global rise in equities. When looking at the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, it’s clear U.S. stocks haven’t rallied as robustly as their foreign equivalents. Yet Trump loves this claim so much that he has repeated it 28 times in the 49 days since our last update — more often than every other day.
We maintain the database by closely reading or watching Trump’s myriad public appearances and television and radio interviews. The interviews are especially hard to keep up with, in part because the White House does not routinely post on them on its website. In fact, a recent redesign of the White House website appears to make it difficult to find transcripts of Trump’s remarks at the White House.
This project originally started as a first-100-days database, but by popular demand we extended it to one year. We will soon face a decision about whether to maintain it beyond one year, even though it strains the resources (and weekends) of our staff. In at least one instance, the database was used for academic analysis. We welcome thoughts from readers about whether it remains a worthwhile endeavor.
Courtesy Washington Post
President Trump gave an impromptu half-hour interview with the New York Times on Dec. 28. We combed through the transcript and here’s a quick roundup of the false, misleading or dubious claims that he made, at a rate of one every 75 seconds. (Some of the interview was off the record, so it’s possible the rate of false claims per minute is higher.)
“Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. . . . I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.”
Trump appears to be referring to an interview with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She did not flatly say there was no collusion and instead was more nuanced. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Nov. 5 whether she had “seen any evidence that this dirt, these emails, were ever given to the Trump campaign,” she replied: “Not so far.” Tapper than asked: “Have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means?” She answered: “I have not.”
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“I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”
Trump is entitled to his own opinion, but he sidesteps the fact that the investigation has revealed that members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians at least 31 times throughout the campaign. There are at least 19 known meetings, in addition to the indictments or guilty pleas of his campaign manager, national security adviser and others. Here’s The Fact Checker’s video on our count.
“There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion. . . . Starting with the dossier. But going into so many other elements. And Podesta’s firm.”
Trump has falsely accused Clinton campaign manager John Podesta of being involved with a Russian company. Tony Podesta co-founded the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, with his brother John. But it’s a U.S.-based company, not a company in Russia. Trump likely is referring to the Podesta Group being paid $170,000 over six months to represent Sberbank, a Russian bank. The Podesta Group said its work for Sberbank USA was “never about getting sanctions lifted,” and “was simply about helping to clarify to what extent our client, the U.S. subsidiary [of Sberbank], was subject to sanctions. We confirmed they were not.” As for alleged collusion between the Democrats and Russia, Trump is referring to the fact that Fusion GPS, the political research firm that assembled the dossier as part of an assignment for Democrats, relied on a British intelligence agent who used Russian sources for his research. So that’s a rather big stretch.
Here’s the Fact Checker’s video on the Fusion GPS Russian connections.
“I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the electoral college.”
There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton campaigned for the popular vote, which Trump has previously has said he would have won if not for fraud. Clinton campaigned in many battleground states, including Republican-leaning ones where she thought she had a chance. She did not campaign as much in two states — Michigan and Wisconsin — that were considered locks for Democrats but which Trump narrowly won. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. If 40,000 votes had switched in three states, Trump would have also lost the electoral college.
“Paul [Manafort] only worked for me for a few months.”
Trump skips over lightly the fact that Manafort, now under indictment, was his campaign manager in the critical period in which he secured the nomination and accepted it at the GOP convention.
“There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign.”
This is a breathtakingly false statement. Little evidence has emerged of any collusion between the Democrats and Russia, whereas evidence has emerged of many contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian-linked individuals. The FBI, CIA and National Security Agency earlier this year concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”
“What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”
Presidents do not have unfettered right to interfere with Justice Department investigations, unless they are actively seeking a constitutional crisis.
“I’m the one that saved coal. I’m the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now.”
West Virginia’s gross domestic product increased 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The recent bump is due in part to the increased price of metallurgic coal, which is used to make steel, and a price increase in natural gas exports. West Virginia produces roughly 5 percent of the natural gas in the U.S. and as the price of natural gas rises, the demand for coal increases, spurring growth in the state. Trump can’t take credit for the change in prices, which fluctuate with market forces. He previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it.
“There is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party. Including all of the stuff with the — and then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two, you know, whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?”
Trump echoes a conspiracy theory that a criminal case involving a Pakistani information technology specialist who worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — who had chaired the Democratic National Committee — was somehow related to the Russian hack of DNC emails. The case involves a fraudulent loan, and no evidence has emerged to connect it to the Russia investigation.
“They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the electoral college. The electoral college is so much better suited to the Democrats.”
Trump is falsely labeling nonpartisan investigations as made up by Democrats. The CIA concluded in 2016 that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help elect Trump, an assessment backed up by FBI Director James B. Comey and then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. As we noted, the intelligence community released a declassified report expressing “high confidence” in this judgment. Senate and House committees led by Republicans have begun their own investigations, and a special prosecutor has been appointed. Meanwhile, Democrats obviously do not have an electoral college lock. According to a tally by John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, every Republican president since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 won a larger share of the electoral college votes than Trump, with the exception of George W. Bush (twice) and Richard Nixon in 1968.
“I was for Strange, and I brought Strange up 20 points. Just so you understand. When I endorsed him, he was in fifth place. He went way up. Almost 20 points.”
Polls indicate that Trump’s endorsement made little difference — and in fact Strange lost to Roy Moore by a greater margin than polls suggested at the time of Trump’s endorsement. While Trump says Strange was in fifth place, there were only three candidates in the GOP primary.
“I endorsed him [Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore]. It became a much closer race because of my endorsement. People don’t say that. They say, ‘Oh, Donald Trump lost.’ I didn’t lose, I brought him up a lot.”
Polls can vary, but there is little evidence this is the case. The fact remains that Moore lost an election in a state where Democrats usually lose by double digits.
“We have spent, as of about a month ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East. And the Middle East is worse than it was 17 years ago. … $7 trillion.”
Trump, who previously would cite a number of $6 trillion, is lumping together the wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia), which together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans’ care for the next three decades.
“By the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.”
Trump signed an executive order encouraging the formation of health plans across state lines. But there is still a law in place that exempts insurance companies from aspects of federal antitrust law and ensures that individual states remained the primary regulators of insurance. We wrote about this before, when Vice President Pence earned Four Pinocchios for a false claim.
“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”
Lawmakers who dealt with Trump on taxes and especially health care privately told reporters they were shocked how little he knew about these issues.
“We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people.”
Trump is referring to an executive order, mentioned above, but it has no force in law on its own and no one has yet joined these associations. The rules spelling out how the executive order would work have not been issued yet, so Trump is simply making up his “millions” number.
“Now that the individual mandate is officially killed, people have no idea how big a deal that was. It’s the most unpopular part of Obamacare. But now, Obamacare is essentially … You know, you saw this. … It’s basically dead over a period of time.”
While the individual mandate was an important incentive for Americans to seek health insurance, it was only one part of a far-reaching law that remains intact. The repeal does not take effect until 2019, and enrollment in Obamacare has remained strong. The Congressional Budget Office says the marketplaces are expected to remain stable for years.
“We see the drugs pouring into the country, we need the wall.”
The wall will have virtually no effect on drugs coming into the country. According to reports by the DEA, the majority of drugs are smuggled through legal ports of entry or smuggled through underground tunnels. Trump previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it.
“They have a lottery in these countries. They take the worst people in the country, they put them into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States.’ … We’re going to get rid of the lottery.”
This is a gross misrepresentation of the diversity visa program. Individuals apply for the visa system, and must have at least a high school diploma or work in specific industries to be eligible for the program. As the term “lottery” implies, applicants are selected via a randomized computer drawing. The selected applicants undergo a background check before entering the country, and some applicants undergo an additional in-depth review if they are considered a security risk.
“I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China.”
The Chinese put on a show for Trump, knowing he likes them, but this is a fairly ridiculous comment to make, especially given the limited interactions between the two men — and China’s 3,500-year history.
“This [North Korea] is a problem that should have been handled for the last 25 years. This is a problem, North Korea. That should have been handled for 25, 30 years, not by me. This should have been handled long before me. Long before this guy has whatever he has.”
Previous presidents, notably Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, made major efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. But the deals they struck did not stick.
“When I campaigned, I was very tough on China in terms of trade. They made — last year, we had a trade deficit with China of $350 billion, minimum.”
The trade deficit in goods and services in 2016 with China was $310 billion. Trump often just cites the goods deficit, which was $347 billion, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. Under the Trump administration, the trade deficit with China has increased 7 percent so far in 2017.
“We lost $71 billion a year with Mexico. Can you believe it?”
Trump, as is his practice, inflates the size of the trade deficit by only counting goods, not goods and services. The 2016 trade deficit with Mexico was $55 billion, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.
“$17 billion with Canada — Canada says we broke even. But they don’t include lumber and they don’t include oil. Oh, that’s not. My friend Justin he says, ‘No, no, we break even.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not including oil, and you’re not including lumber.’ When you do, you lose $17 billion.”
In recounting a conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump gets his facts quite wrong. Trudeau said Canada had a total trade deficit with the United States while Trump insisted it was the other way around. In reality, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Canada was $12.1 billion in 2016, but the U.S. services trade surplus with Canada was $24.6 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. So Trudeau was right, according to U.S. government data.
Courtesy The Washington Post
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Friday that he believes the recently passed GOP tax bill did too much to help the bottom line of America’s largest corporations.
“I thought we probably went too far on [helping] corporations,” the Florida Republican told the Fort Myers-based News-Press.
“By and large, you’re going to see a lot of these multinationals buy back shares to drive up the price,” Rubio continued. “Some of them will be forced, because they’re sitting on historic levels of cash, to pay out dividends to shareholders. That isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth.”
The bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last week slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. It also includes a number of provisions that benefit the country’s wealthiest residents rather than the middle-class Americans the GOP has insisted will benefit from the plan, including a cut to the top income tax rate and for pass-through businesses.
The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Rubio told the News-Press he was unconcerned about polls showing that most Americans disapprove of the legislation, saying the media has unfairly influenced peoples’ opinions and that ultimate perception of the bill will be based on “what their paycheck is telling them.”
The uproar surrounding professional athletes not standing for the National Anthem is a perfectly connived sham. This charade attempts to divert attention from the two main issues that the protest represents. First, the reason for the protest, police brutality, especially the killing of unarmed black men and boys, has been lost in the uproar caused by certain whites. Second, and most important, what underlies this denouncement of the protest is the denial of the full rights of citizenship – which protects that right to protest — to black men. This denunciation is against black athletes only because they are expressing their rights as men and citizens.
Today’s black professional athletes, though paid handsomely in the millions of dollars, play the same role of servant/entertainer as their enslaved forefathers. Blacks were brought to these shores to serve and to be subservient while serving. The entertainment of whites was one of the servant roles that blacks performed. They were required to entertain by singing, dancing the jig, boxing, and jockeying.
Enslaved African were used as competitive boxers; bouts were set with wagers to earn money for owners. During the early years of the 1800s, Tom Molineaux earned his freedom from enslavement by winning large sums of money for his owner. Bill Richard was an African American boxer born enslaved in Virginia, who earned the moniker “The Black Terror.”
Enslaved African Americans were the first jockeys and trainers in horse racing. Horse racing was entertainment for white planters. African American participation in the sport goes back to the colonial period. Both Presidents Washington and Jefferson were racing fans. When President Andrew Jackson moved into the White House in 1829, he brought his black jockeys. African Americans dominated the world of racing until the early 20th century ,when they were pushed out by whites.
When Black Athletes Demonstrate Principled Manhood
As long as black athletes are winning on the field or the court, they are no threat to white supremacy. When black athletes demonstrate that they are principled and passionate men who care about the equal treatment of their people, they are demonized and punished.
Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists during the playing of the anthem at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. For this non-violent protest, they paid a huge price. Gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos were suspended from the U.S. Olympic team, stripped of their medals, and subjected to death threats for years. The raising of the fists took precedence over their courageous and principled act demonstrating against the racial discrimination of black people in the United States. The reason for the fist-raising was lost in condemnation of the athletes; even after their winning medals for the United States in their servant/entertainer roles in the Olympics, they were denied the right to express their black manhood in protest of the conditions under which other blacks were forced to live.
When Muhammed Ali refused military induction to fight in Vietnam, he was vilified and accused of being unpatriotic. Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title, convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison (later appealed), fined $10 thousand and banned from boxing for three years. Muhammed Ali did not choose to be merely a servant/entertainer but a man who stood firm on his religious principles , like any other conscientious objector.
Young black athletes are learning early that they can win football games for their teams but that they cannot demonstrate their emerging manhood through protest. Cedric Ingram-Lewis and Larry McCullough’s protest against the inhumane treatment of blacks cost them their spots on a Texas high school football team.
Despite Fame and Fortune
What a critically thinking and politically conscious black athlete recognizes is that, despite his wealth, when he is not on the field or the court, he is just another black man who might fall victim to racial terrorism. The vilification of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who joined in protest in 2016 and 2017, clearly demonstrates that winning and entertaining do not earn black men the rights of full American citizenship. Sixty-seven percent of NFL players are African American and 74 percent of NBA players. It is unfortunate that these men who play their hearts out to give pleasure to the American public are denied the basic and fundamental right to protest in the way that is most meaningful to them.
It is important to those who question the loyalty and patriotism of black men that these racially motivated individuals consider the demonstration of black manhood in any form is a threat. Those who rant about the protest being disrespectful of veterans could spend as much time memorializing the black veterans who put their lives at risk when they fought for freedom during WWII and returned home only to find that a black man in uniform was an anathema to the racial status quo. In a wave of anti-black violence after the end of WWII, 56 African American men, the majority of those murdered during that reign of terror against blacks, were returning veterans.
It appears that no matter how much they give, how much they play by the rules, how loyal and patriotic they are, how much they serve/entertain, black manhood inspires fear in the hearts and minds of many white Americans. Protest of any sort by black men immediately brings to mind the image of the Brute. How many generations will it take for black men to enjoy the humanity they aspire to and deserve? How many generations until black men are granted the rights of full American citizenship, including the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment?
Martha R. Bireda
Martha R. Bireda’s debut fiction novel, “The Womb Rebellion”, tells the story of gynecological resistance among enslaved women on a southern plantation.