Twitter Scorches Fox News and Trump for Taking Credit for Obama’s Economy

The big economic news on Friday was that 33,000 jobs were lost in September. It was the first time in seven years that the jobs numbers went negative. Most reports were quick to cite the rash of hurricanes that plagued the nation in recent weeks. However, the job growth statistics throughout 2017 have lagged behind the same time period in 2016.

Donald Trump economy

It’s no coincidence that Donald Trump and Fox News have been bragging about the performance of the stock market. It’s an easy, albeit deceitful, distraction from the other bad news of the day. Never mind that stocks are currently in the second longest bull market in history and that it started in 2009 under President Obama. Trump has done literally nothing that would change the momentum of Obama’s economy. Not a single economic bill has reached his desk for signature. But that hasn’t stopped him and his propaganda division at Fox News from trying to steal the credit, as demonstrated in these tweets:

The wealth increase that Fox News is touting is based solely on the rise of equities. Not only is it false to describe that as “the nation’s wealth,” it is a fluid indicator that could reverse course tomorrow. Indeed, many stock analysts regard the market’s current position as overvalued. These analysts are predicting a “correction” that could send the markets down ten or twenty percent. What’s more, the soaring stock market does not reflect the economic realities of most Americans. Other economic indicators (i.e. wages) are showing only small advances. The beneficiaries of stock gains are predominantly the usual suspects of the GOP (Greedy One Percent).

Some of these discrepancies were observed by the Twitter community, who proceeded to bludgeon Fox for their bullshit. A few of the notable comments follow:

It’s always dangerous to rely on stock market performance to validate the economy. There are too many factors that can shift investor sentiment. And with Trump’s saber-rattling over nukes with both North Korea and Iran he’s playing with fire, literally. And if that doesn’t sink the markets, then his proposed tax plan, which will benefit only the rich and blow up the deficit, will do the job.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump Says His Tax Reform Plan Is ‘Not Good For Me, Believe Me’ – Hell No. Release YOUR Taxes!

This week Donald Trump suffered another legislative defeat as his latest attempt to kill ObamaCare was declared dead (again). So he traveled to Indiana on Wednesday to deliver a speech on his next project, tax reform. He promised to spell out the details of the plan that he will present to Congress. For the most part it was a rehashed jumble of familiar Republican proposals that rotted on the vine decades ago.

Donald Trump

Trump’s snake oil speech peddled such scams as eliminating the estate tax, that affects only 0.2 percent of taxpayers. He also wants to nix the Alternative Minimum Tax that insures that wealthy folks like himself can’t pile up deductions and pay nothing. Corporations will cheer Trump’s proposal to cut their tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Never mind that the current schedule hasn’t stopped them from achieving record profits. He would also give them a privileged rate to repatriate offshore funds. It’s ironic that Trump has no problem demeaning the patriotism of people who protest systemic racism, but corporation that hoard money abroad to keep it out of U.S. treasuries – where it would benefit all Americans – are patriotic victims of the system.

Virtually everything in Trump’s plan would benefit corporations and the rich. His proposed tax brackets of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, would insure that those with higher income would bear a smaller share of the overall tax burden. At this time Trump has left out popular deductions for things like mortgage interest, charitable donations, or medical expenses. And all of this would supposedly be paid for by a growing economy. Except that that theory has been proven false every time Republicans implemented it in the past. And especially now, when economic recovery is in its eighth year and unemployment is at historic lows, it would have little to no impact.

So it was jarring to hear the President champion this creaky GOP sham as beneficial to low income earners. But to make matters worse, he adorned his gift to rich Americans with this shameless claim to selflessness (video below):

“Our framework includes an explicit commitment that tax refom will protect low income and middle income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want. Not gonna help. I’m doing the right thing. And it’s not good for me, believe me.”

Believe you? Why the hell would anyone do that? If there’s one thing that Donald Trump is known for, it’s lying. His rated comments at PolitiFact are 69 percent “Mostly False, False” or “Pants on Fire.” He has been scored as telling a lie on average every three minutes. And the Washington Post has collected over 1,000 lies Trump has told since his inauguration.

More to the point, asking people to believe him about his taxes is the height of hubris. Despite promising to release his tax returns during the campaign, he now adamantly refuses to do so. Why would he break that campaign promise unless there was something seriously damaging in his taxes? It could be that he isn’t the success story he claims to be. Or maybe there are blatant violations of the law. It could reveal associations with mobsters. Or even worse – Russians. Anyone who is dumb enough to take Trump at his word should not be allowed outside of an institution. And if Trump wants to us to accept his claim that his tax proposals won’t benefit him, all he has to do is release his taxes. Don’t hold your breath.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Warren Buffett Blasts GOP Healthcare Bill as the ‘Relief for the Rich Act’

On Tuesday the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was forced to make an embarrassing announcement. After insisting that the Senate would vote on the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill before the July fourth recess, he has now removed it from the schedule. He had a good reason. There was no way it pass. At least nine Republican senators had indicated that they would vote no.

Warren Buffet

The so-called “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is not only unpopular with some senate Republicans. Recent polling shows that the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to it. The USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll puts its approval at only twelve percent. The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll is only slightly better with seventeen percent of Americans approving. That includes support from only thirty-five percent of Republicans. [And this just in: Even the latest poll from Fox News shows approval at only twenty-seven percent. Twice as many oppose]

These are disastrous numbers for any public policy. It’s startling that the GOP would even be interested in pursuing this farce. And yet, McConnell continues to be optimistic about its prospects for passage. So does Donald Trump, who just met with the GOP senate caucus and celebrated their non-achievement.

Among the skeptics of the Republican plan to make twenty-two million more people uninsured is billionaire investor Warren Buffett. In an interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff (video below), Buffett made his opinion crystal clear. He expressed his support for a more inclusive healthcare plan saying that single-payer “probably is the best system.” Then he outlined what is one of the most troubling and unfair aspects in the GOP bill in the following exchange:

Woodruff: “One of the things the Republicans are looking at, as you know very well, is doing away with the so-called Obamacare surcharge on people earning a higher income. So, Republicans are looking at taking that away, or doing away with that, which would mean a tax cut, you have said, for people like you.”

Buffett: “Well, I brought my tax return along for the last year. I filed this on April 15. And if the Republican — well, if the bill that passed the House with 217 votes had been in effect this year, I would have saved — I can give you the exact figure. I would have saved $679,999, or over 17 percent of my tax bill.

“There’s nothing ambiguous about that. I will be given a 17 percent tax cut. And the people it’s directed at are couples with $250,000 or more of income. You could entitle this, you know, Relief for the Rich Act or something, because it — I have got friends where it would have saved them as much as — it gets into the $10-million-and-up figure.

Bringing in his tax return to provide a tangible example of how the wealthy would benefit was a nice touch. It was an effective method to drive the point home. But it was also subtle dig at Trump, who still refuses to release any of his tax returns. And Buffett had something to say on the subject of politicians feathering their own nests as well:

“I might point out — it might be an interesting question. I think members of the Senate and the House get $174,000 a year. But most of them have — if you look at the disclosures, they have substantial other income. If they get to higher than $250,000, as a married couple, or $200,000 as a single person, they have given themselves a big, big tax cut, if they — if they voted for this.”

Indeed. The median net worth of members of Congress is slightly more a million dollars. Fifty-one percent are millionaires. Obviously, they would personally profit from the changes proposed in the Republican bill. And that profit comes at the expense of millions of Americans being thrown off of their insurance plans. Millions more would suffer higher premiums and deductibles, fewer services, and denial of coverage for preexisting conditions.

Buffett has long been an advocate for average Americans, despite his great good fortune. His critical observation that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary became known as the “Buffett Rule.” He’s a shining example of a Patriotic Millionaire (billionaire) who puts the welfare of his country and fellow citizens above his own personal interests. It’s the sort of compassion that Republicans ought to exercise when crafting their healthcare bill. But then, why would they start now? They have never done it before.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Gets Schooled By Nebraska Farmer on Dangers of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Today is Earth Day and there are tens of thousands of people around the world attending the March for Science. Meanwhile, on Fox News, host Sandra Smith is interrogating a mild-mannered farmer from Nebraska about why he and ninety others are opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. (Video below)

Fox News Keystone XL

Art Tanderup represents a group of family farmers whose land and businesses would be put at risk by the pipeline. His appearance on Fox News was rather risky as well considering the network’s blatant support for the fossil fuel industry. Smith began the segment with a question that focused on an overtly partisan premise:

“President Trump has argued that the pipeline construction would bring new jobs. But the whole thing is now in the hands of a state regulatory board […] What is you goal here?”

Trump’s support for Keystone rests on a foundation of disinformation. Independent analysts agree that the the project would create about thirty-five permanent jobs. But even if it created more, that wouldn’t justify destroying communities and the livelihoods of private citizens.

Nevertheless, Tanderup responded to the question without addressing the political overtones. He said that the goal is to “leave the tar sands in the ground and move more rapidly to renewable fuels.” Elaborating on that he continued:

“After we learned how destructive the chemicals and the tar sands are, we have come to realize that this type of fossil fuel should not be happening. It doesn’t matter where it’s at. We need to look for other sources of renewable energy.”

But Fox’s Smith was undeterred. She continued using the President as wedge for her questioning. Or perhaps to remind her viewers that this farmer is contradicting their commander-in-chief.

“Those that support the Keystone XL pipeline, like the President, say that this is the best economic and the best solution for the native plants and animals of these areas. Considering that it’s a lot less dangerous than transporting this fuel by rail. What do you say to that?”

Tanderup was prepared for that angle and unbothered by the presidential name dropping. He noted that often underground pipeline leaks are not discovered for years. Consequently, they produce more damage over time than more visible rail accidents. So Smith changed directions and asked a leading question about energy independence. That led to this exchange:

Smith: We all want to achieve energy independence in this country. This was an effort and a step in that direction. How do you achieve that?”
Tanderup: Well first of all, this is not American oil, and it is going across America…
Smith: “But it’s coming from Canada, rather than the Middle East, would be the argument.”
Tanderup: “That’s true, but it’s going across America to be refined and exported, which is not for America’s use.”

Notice that Smith was fact-checked live about her contention that energy independence had anything to do with this. It doesn’t. But even then she attempted to imply that Canadian oil was the same as American. It’s not. And Tanderup’s obvious knowledge of the subject left her floundering.

This brief segment is a profound summary of the whole Keystone XL debate. The pipeline does not create the jobs that supporters claim. The oil is not American, so it doesn’t contribute to energy independence. And the refined oil is intended for export to Europe and Asia. So it isn’t helping to reduce American fuel imports. And if this Nebraskan farmer can get it right, so can Fox News. Which is the best evidence that Fox is deliberately getting it wrong to advance their right-wing political agenda.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Robert Reich: Why Trump’s Plan to Strip the IRS is Incredibly Dumb (Video)

Anyone looking for idiotic ideas from the Donald Trump administration wouldn’t have to dig very deep before hitting the mother lode. Some of the more obvious examples include a health care plan so reviled they didn’t even bring it up for a vote. Cutting taxes for the rich. Building a wall on the southern border. Banning all Muslims from entering the country. And denying the catastrophic effects of climate change. But wait, there’s more.

Robert Reich Trump IRS

Robert Reich addressed a new Republican folly in a short but poignant video (posted below). He details how the GOP, in a committed effort to advance the cause of stupidity, put forward a proposal to cut the budget of the IRS by 14 percent. Apparently, having nothing else to do, they’ve had plenty of time to come up with ever more asinine initiatives.

In this case they found one that is a win-win for Republicans who hate government in general and the IRS in particular. This proposal would make it harder for the IRS to carry out its responsibilities. Thus, it would open up the agency to criticism for inefficiency that was created by this very cut. It would also create inefficiencies in every other branch of government that is starved for revenue by the reduced tax receipts. Which in turn would make those branches subject to criticism as well. By leaving untold billions of legitimately owed taxes uncollected, the federal deficit would skyrocket. Then, of course, the GOP’s pseudo-deficit hawks would whine about that and use it as a phony justification to cut more programs for the poor and middle-class.

What’s more, efforts by a crippled IRS to audit greedy corporations and millionaires would be severely curtailed. Consequently, they would have free rein to continue robbing the American people. Billions of dollars necessary to run critical federal programs like Social Security, the military, public safety (food, water, consumer products, etc.), transportation and infrastructure, medical research, criminal prosecution and prevention, and so much more, would be lost to fraud. These proposed cuts would come on top of previous cuts that have already hamstrung the IRS. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a detailed and enlightening analysis

“[P]olicymakers should not ignore the damaging effects of the significant cuts that have occurred in IRS funding, which remains well below its 2010 level even before adjusting for inflation. The cuts have led the IRS to reduce its workforce, severely scale back employee training, and delay much-needed upgrades to information technology systems. These steps, in turn, have weakened the IRS’s ability to enforce the nation’s tax laws and serve taxpayers efficiently” […]

“[F]rom a fiscal perspective, starving the IRS makes no sense, as the return on the investment is high. Each additional $1 spent on IRS enforcement yields $6 of additional revenue from collecting taxes owed.”

Nowhere else in the federal government can spending generate that kind of return on investment. It’s just plain nuts to eliminate such a productive method of raising funds. Especially when it doesn’t rely on new taxes or gutting useful programs. These cuts would have the triple purpose of weakening vital services upon which every American relies, granting amnesty to tax cheats everywhere, and artificially creating excuses to lash out at Big Government.

In the end, it is law abiding Americans who will have to shoulder the burden for these deadbeats. And let’s not forget that Trump himself is among those who would benefit from a broken IRS. Although we may never know how much since he refuses to releases his taxes. So the question is: Are the GOP really that stupid, or are they shrewdly executing their mission to starve the government, crush the middle-class, and enrich their benefactors?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Retracts Their Dangerously False Food Stamp Story – And Still Gets It Wrong

On Tuesday Fox News broadcast an episode of their “Entitlement Nation” series that made some startling claims about the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (aka food stamps). What was not startling was that they got it all wrong (as reported here on News Corpse). Fox & Friends co-host, Abby Huntsman, asserted that “$70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud.” Then she asked “Is it time to end the program altogether?” Because eliminating a program that keeps millions of kids and seniors from starving is preferable to looking for ways to reduce a minuscule amount of alleged fraud.

Fox News

Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in to chastise Fox for their “mistakes.” They wrote to the network asking them “to correct a report from Tuesday morning’s edition of ‘Fox & Friends’ alleging new heights for food-stamp fraud in the United States.” They stated that the agency had not issued any data for 2016 and that they didn’t know where Fox was getting their info. Except to say that “We saw that there was a story on Breitbart.”

So Huntsman aired a retraction of her dangerously false food stamp story Friday, saying that the data she cited was incorrect. However, she went on to assert another falsehood saying that the “correct” number for food stamp fraud was $853 million for the three years from 2009 to 2011. In fact, that number refers to any errors (i.e. under/over payments), not just fraud. And it’s still an uncommonly low error rate. What’s more, Fox removed the original story from their website, leaving only a correction but no indication of what they corrected. That is not how ethical journalists operate.

So now that Fox has apologized for reporting false information, will they also retract their suggestion that the SNAP program be eliminated? Not likely. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. And they are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare. They are devoted to making life more difficult for people who are already undergoing hardship. While simultaneously they strive to make life easier for the wealthy by reducing taxes and regulations that benefit the population at large. So merry Christmas and happy new year from Fox News.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Merry WTF? Fox News Asks ‘Is It Time To End The Food Stamp Program?’

[Note (12/30/2016): See the update to this story and Fox’s correction here.]

Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. That’s the spirit of Christmas and the crass marketing slogan so fiercely defended by the Christmas Warriors at Fox News. Which makes the Fox & Friends segment Tuesday morning all the more shocking for its cruel indifference to human suffering.

Fox News

Co-host Abby Huntsman introduced the segment as part their recurring “Entitlement Nation” series. These are generally excuses to attack the less fortunate among our American family. Past episodes have explored such nonsense as ObamaPhones and the lazy moochers on welfare with their extravagant microwave ovens.

Tuesday’s cheery holiday discussion was about whether SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, aka food stamps) ought to be discontinued. Because what’s more Christmasy than depriving poor families of lavish indulgences like food? To that end Huntsman raised the issue with her guests, Republican Joe Borelli and Democrat Jehmu Greene. And she framed the “fair and balanced” debate saying:

“Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high […] This year it is estimated that $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud. Is it time to end the program altogether?”

Good question, Ms. Scrooge. Don’t bother trying to reduce the alleged waste, just eliminate critical funding for food that keeps working families from starving. Not surprisingly, her Republican guest answered the question in the affirmative:

Borelli: “The Republican Party can’t be either in perception or in practice as the party that is seen as throwing people to the curb and cutting off benefits when they really need it. That said said, this program, the SNAP program, the reincarnation of the food stamp program, has been rife with problems since almost its inception.”

So Borelli’s position is that the GOP must avoid looking insensitive, while still being insensitive. It’s an admittedly tricky political maneuver. But one that Republicans have many decades of experience with. The Democrat actually offered some substance in her rebuttal:

Greene: “We certainly have to have this conversation by looking at the facts. And the facts are that 45 percent of the recipients of SNAP programs are under the age of eighteen. Nine percent of them are over the age of sixty. This is a program that keeps young people and elderly people out of poverty.

Greene also pointed out that the SNAP program helps the economy. That’s because for every five dollars that’s spent, nine dollars goes right back into the local economy. Meanwhile, Borelli incorrectly said that one percent of the spending on SNAP was lost to fraud. It’s actually only one-tenth of one percent (Republicans don’t do math). That’s an uncommonly low rate of loss for any program or even for commercial businesses.

Borelli went on to complain that the cost of the program doubled in the past eight years. What he didn’t say is that the costs went up because more people needed assistance due to the Bush Recession. Also, inflation has required the benefits to increase. If the minimum wage increased at the same rate there would be far fewer families who need this to supplement their income. But Republicans oppose that as well.

The SNAP program has proven to be an essential benefit that keeps children, seniors, and other low-income Americans from going hungry. It helps the economy, and is effective and cost efficient. In fact, the overall cost of the program is falling as the economy improves. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that:

“In fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent about $75 billion on SNAP. About 93 percent went directly to benefits that households used to purchase food. About 6 percent went to state administrative costs.”

Given the success of the program, it makes no sense to consider discontinuing it. But to suggest doing so during the Christmas holiday is downright cold-hearted. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. They are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare and cancelling the health insurance of 20 million people. But you might think they would withhold their most callous tendencies until after the Season of Joy. Sadly, you would be wrong.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump’s Post-Christmas, Narcissistic, Delusional, Tweet-A-Rama

Apparently America is going to suffer through four years of deranged ranting by an infantile tweetaholic pretending to be president. Donald Trump’s skin is just as rice paper thin as ever. Despite having claimed an Electoral College victory and promising to “act presidential,” such behavior continues to evade him.

Obama Trump Tweet

On the day after Christmas Trump, who still doesn’t have time to attend national security briefings, managed to keep his Twitter followers entertained. And true to form, he had nothing to say other than to disparage his foes and glorify himself. The first Xmas exaltation was directed at President Obama’s recent assertion that he would have beaten Trump in a rematch:

It’s cute that the issues Trump chose to feature in his rebuttal were all examples of Obama successes. He presided over the creation of 22 million jobs in the longest period of private sector job growth in history. The unemployment rate was cut by more than half, from 10.1 percent to 4.9 percent. As for ISIS, under Obama’s command the terrorist organization lost tens of thousands of fighters. According to the general in charge we have killed 45,000 in just the last two years. And that includes many of their top leaders. We have also substantially reduced the territory that ISIS controlled and their ability to raise revenue. And ObamaCare just completed the sign up period for 2017 with record numbers (6.4 million) of newly insured citizens.

Trump’s blatantly wrong commentary on Obama’s record was not his only glaring mistake. He also made the ludicrous assertion that there is “NO WAY” that Obama would have beaten him. He doesn’t explain his reasoning, but since he is the most unpopular president-elect in history it seems like a difficult argument to make. Especially when Obama is enjoying sky high favorability ratings.

Not content to embarrass himself with that tweet, Trump let loose again with one that may be even more absurd:

You will have to use your imagination to figure out what “gloomy” world Trump is living in. Although he spoke of it often during his campaign. To hear it from him, America is hell hole on the scale of something out of Mad Max. Never mind the employment and economic advances that occurred over the past eight years. Trump touts the 10 percent increase in the stock market since the beginning of November. Of course, he isn’t president and couldn’t have had anything to do with it. And he doesn’t mention the 150 percent increase since the beginning of Obama’s presidency. Pretty gloomy, huh?

What’s more, Trump thinks that somehow he is responsible for people buying their loved ones Christmas presents. So now Trump is Santa Claus too? How appropriate that he would exhibit his messiah complex on the anniversary of the birth of his messiah. Perhaps he is also responsible for everyone who was healed of an illness in the past month.

Continuing late into the evening, Trump posted a tweet lauding his philanthropy:

Now he’s just flat out lying, which for him is a natural state of being. IRS records show that Trump has not donated anything to his foundation since 2008. And his disbursements mainly benefited himself. He gave $25,000 to a Florida Attorney General who then dropped the investigation on him that her office was conducting. He gave another $250,000 to settle the terms of a lawsuit he lost. Those are both illegal uses for charitable funds.

And then there were the portraits of himself that he purchased as well as some sports memorabilia. Again, that’s misuse of foundation funds. Last week he announced that he’s shutting down his foundation, which he can’t do while the New York Attorney General is investigating it for fraud.

Finally, one Twitter response to Trump’s brag-fest offered a poll to gauge who would really have won in an Obama/Trump match-up. At the time of this writing, Obama was ahead by three to one. Of course, this is not a scientific poll. However it is posted on Trump’s Twitter feed where he might be expected to have an advantage:

So even on his home turf, Trump is a loser. And that’s after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a historic margin (over 2.8 million votes). And Clinton’s favorables aren’t anywhere near as high as Obama’s. So let that sink in, Mr. Trump. And I’m sure we can expect some thin-skinned, half-baked tweets to follow as soon as you get your tiny hands on your phone.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

New Poll Reveals How The Stupidity Of Trump Voters Got Him Elected

It’s been a month since the election and most Americans are still perplexed as to how Donald Trump eked out his Electoral College victory. Analysts are pouring over data and struggling to come up with explanations. Common sense challenges the notion that a reality TV game show host could become president following a campaign rife with ignorance and hatred.

Rachel Maddow

On Thursday night, however, Rachel Maddow reported on the results of a new Public Policy Polling (PPP) Poll that sheds some light on this mystery. And, not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with common sense. The poll compared the responses of Trump voters to those of the electorate at large. The differences are startling and disturbing.

Maddow starts off with a general question on the popularity of Donald Trump and President Barack Obama. The poll shows a majority of Americans (51%) have an unfavorable opinion Trump and a favorable (50%) opinion of Obama. However, Trump voters are wildly out of the mainstream with a whopping ninety percent unfavorable view of Obama. But that’s a purely subjective question and we all know that the nation has a marked partisan split. Where this descends into absurdity is when the questions address factual matters. Observe and cringe:

The Stock Market
The PPP poll asked respondents whether the stock market was higher or lower during the Obama administration. A shocking thirty-nine percent said that they believe the market is lower after eight years of Obama. The truth, of course, is that the market rose over 140 percent, from about 8,000 to over 19,600. That is not subjective. It is an easily provable fact. And it demonstrates just how averse the Trump voters are to facts.

The Unemployment Rate
PPP then asked about an issue that was consistently at the top of the list of voter concerns: Jobs. On this matter sixty-seven percent of Trump voters said that they believed the unemployment rate had risen under Obama. In fact, it has fallen from a high of 10.1 percent to the present 4.6 percent. For comparison, seventy-four percent of Democrats got the answer right.

The Popular Vote
Another data point that relies purely on facts is the result of the election. This year the “loser” of the presidency received more than two and a half million votes more than the “winner.” But if you ask Trump voters you’ll find that forty percent of them think The Donald won the popular vote.

Trump’s Tax Returns
Somehow, Trump managed to get through the election without releasing his tax returns, breaking a fifty year streak. The American people aren’t pleased. Fifty-nine percent still say that he should release them. But Trump voters are so tunnel-blinded by hero worship that fifty-nine percent of them say he shouldn’t bother. So despite all of the obvious potential for conflicts of interest, Trump voters would rather be left in the dark.

A couple more questions in the poll were similarly unsettling. Seventy-three percent of Trump voters believe that George Soros paid people to protest against Trump. He didn’t. Twenty-nine percent of Trump voters think California’s votes should not be counted in the popular vote total. WTF? Perhaps they are supporters of CalExit: California Independence. Sixty percent of Trump voters believe that millions voted illegally for Clinton. There is zero evidence of even a handful of such votes. And all of this lead to Maddow delivering this conclusion:

“I think it shows that even after the election, what Trump voters believe about the world is distinctively different from what the rest of the country believe. And from what is true. And this alternate reality that they’re in is weird enough and specific enough that you can’t say it just springs from broader misunderstandings or from a broader ignorance on issues that afflict the country. This is a specific alternate reality that was created by the Trump movement for a political purpose. And it worked for that political purpose.” […] “The incoming president basically created this fantasy life for his supporters.”

That pretty much says it all. However, there are a few other points to consider. Trump’s voters were inordinately influenced by his perpetual lying (see the Trump Bullshitopedia). Combine that with supporting fake news purveyors like Breitbart News, Infowars, and Fox News, and you have a virtual wall of propaganda (much of it paid for by Russia, not Mexico). It was a purposeful strategy to present the nation as a crumbling garbage heap. Otherwise there would have been no argument for Trump’s candidacy. He couldn’t run against a prosperous economy, full employment, and the highest rate of citizens with health insurance. Nor would his vulgarity, ignorance, and bigotry have been tolerated absent the horror story version of America he fabricated.

So now Trump will assume the helm of a nation that Obama rescued from near collapse. Don’t be surprised when he takes credit for everything Obama did. And don’t be surprised when he undoes it with his agenda which is identical to the one that caused all the problems in the first place.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Watch the segment from the Rachel Maddow Show:

Watch Ben Stein Reject Trickle-Down Theory And The Raving Trump Surrogate Defending It

The 2016 presidential race has been most notable for the Republican candidate’s utter refusal to bring anything of substance to the debate. Donald Trump pointedly avoids nearly all policy details in favor of childish insults, empty sloganeering, and lately, deranged outbursts. In the past week alone he called President Obama “the founder of ISIS,” and suggested that “the Second Amendment people” were the only ones who could stop Hillary Clinton.

Ben Stein

That’s what makes it so surprising when a prominent spokesman for the right-wing agenda says something that actually makes sense. This happened Friday on the Fox Business Network during a discussion on the “Dueling Economic Visions” of Trump and Hillary Clinton. Host Charles Payne introduced the segment and turned to economist Ben Stein to give his opinion of the Trump economic plan. What happened next was completely unexpected:

Stein: Well I don’t think Mr. Trump’s plan is going to work very well. I don’t think we need that tax cut when we’re running deficits the size we are running. I think the evidence that tax cuts stimulate business in any kind of meaningful way, at least not sufficient to overcome the tax revenue loss, is extremely poor to put it mildly. I think the idea of cutting taxes on the rich in a time when there is so much concern about inequality is not a good idea. I do think his idea of greatly lessening environmental regulation is absolutely necessary and even brilliant and very brave of him.

Exempting that anti-environment nonsense at the end, Stein delivered a coherent explanation for why giving the wealthy a tax cut makes no sense. In fact he argued that such favoritism for the rich was never a stimulant to the economy and would only exacerbate deficits. Add to that his expression of concern for income inequality and you have a truly astonishing display of wisdom from a right-wing economist.

Fox of course would not be satisfied with that blasphemy. Therefore, Payne turned to Betsy McCaughey, the woman who coined the term “death panels,” for rebuttal. McCaughey was just named to Trump’s team of wingnut economic advisers. She ranted:

McCaughey: First of all, Donald Trump’s tax plan will produce an enormous amount of economic growth. The key factor is slashing the corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the world, down to fifteen percent. Companies in the United States are being taxed to death. And that’s why so many of them are leaving or retrenching their business investments.

There is so much wrong with that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that there is no evidence that Trump’s plan would produce any economic growth. In fact. Moody’s scored his plan and concluded that it would result in a “lengthy recession,” 3.5 million job losses, and “very large deficits and a much higher debt load.” Plus, every independent analysis of Trump’s plan has affirmed that it benefits the rich far more than the lower and middle classes.

Then there is McCaughey’s assertion that U.S. corporate tax rates are “the highest in the world.” That is patently and provably false. It’s a recurring right-wing trope that has been debunked innumerable times by non-partisan analysts. McCaughey and other conservatives deceptively cite the statutory corporate tax rate rather than the effective tax rate (what is actually paid after deductions). When reviewed with real numbers the U.S. corporate rate is actually slightly lower than the average of our international competitors. Often it is zero, or close to it.

[Note: These facts make it even more important for Trump to release his tax returns so that we can see just where in the range his tax rate lies.]

The truth is that American companies are not leaving the the U.S. for lower taxes. They are leaving for lower wages, cheaper distribution in foreign markets, evasion of fair labor and environmental regulations, and other reasons unrelated to taxes. McCaughey also claimed that the U.S. is on the brink of a “business recession” despite this being one of the longest periods of growth in decades. But then she trotted out a real whopper:

McCaughey: And let me just point out in response to Ben’s comments about the poor and tax reductions for the rich – slashing the corporate tax rate and producing growth will benefit the poor the most.

That foolishness hardly merits a response. At this point host Charles Payne steers the conversation to “the debate over whether trickle-down economics really work.” He asked Harvard Kennedy School Professor Leah Wright Rigueur “If the same tide lifts all ships, wouldn’t that include the poor?” She responded that “You would think, but history has shown us that that doesn’t include the poor.” When Stein was asked to comment he poignantly noted that a rising tide “does not lift those boats that are under water.” Which led to this epic exchange:

Stein: And if I may say to my friend the Lt. Governor, there simply is no evidence that slashing the corporate tax rate produces growth. There’s a lot of allegations, but…

McCaughey: [interrupting] That’s ridiculous.

Stein: Did you say ‘That’s ridiculous’?

McCaughey: I said ‘That’s ridiculous’!

Stein: With all due respect, I’m the one that’s studied this. You’re the politician. You can say whatever you want as a politician. There simply is no evidence of that. […] You don’t know that. You have no idea of that. You can say it but there’s never been any data connecting those two.

Watching a devoutly conservative economic expert smack down the right’s sacred trickle-down doctrine on Fox’s own business network is both shocking and satisfying. But watching him also humiliate a Trump adviser, and one of the most extreme GOP partisans, at the same time is an event more rare than Halley’s Comet. It will be interesting to see if Stein is invited back to Fox News any time soon.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.