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Here Are Your Highlights of Today’s Trump Press Meltdown

Mother Jones

Donald Trump went full Sarah Palin today at his press conference. It was glorious. I think you have to watch it to really get the full effect, but here are a few highlights.

First off, the word of the day is mess:

To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess….I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess….ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited….And you look at Schumer and the mess that he’s got over there and they have nothing going.

Fact check: Delusional. Trump inherited an economy in pretty good shape. Crime has steadily decreased over the past decade. ISIS is losing ground and close to defeat. Illegal immigration has been stable for many years. Test scores for schoolkids are up. Fewer than a dozen American soldiers have died in combat in the past year. Obamacare has cut the number of people without health insurance almost in half. The budget deficit is down to 3 percent of GDP. After years of stagnation, wages are finally starting to go up. Unemployment and inflation are both low.

I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes….270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.

Fact check: Also delusionial. He got 304 electoral votes, and Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama all did better.

We’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare….I know you can say, oh, Obamacare. I mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our that representatives are representing.

Fact check: Plausible! Trump and the Republicans in Congress probably do think they represent only Republicans.

The leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

Fact check: Huh?

If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

The reporting is fake. Look, look…You know what it is? Here’s the thing. The public isn’t — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.

Fact check: True. Trump almost certainly does see many, many untruthful things.

I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don’t watch it any more….Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit….Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I’m amazed by it.

Fact check: Schrödinger’s cat. Trump both watches and doesn’t watch CNN.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.

Fact check: Half true. No, Hillary Clinton didn’t give Russia any uranium. (She was one of many who approved a deal for the Russian atomic energy agency to buy a Canadian company that controls 20 percent of the US uranium reserves. But none of it can exported outside the US.) However, it is true that bad things can be done with uranium.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as president of the United States. You mentioned the vessel — the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.

TRUMP: Not good.

QUESTION: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpret as a violation of an agreement between the two countries; and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

TRUMP: Not good.

….QUESTION: So when you say they’re not good, do you mean that they are…

TRUMP: Who did I say is not good?

QUESTION: No, I read off the three things that have recently happened. Each one of them you said they’re not good.

TRUMP: No, it’s not good, but they happened.

QUESTION: But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine…

TRUMP: They all happened recently.

Fact check: True. These are all things that happened recently.

JAKE TURX, A REPORTER FOR A SMALL ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH PUBLICATION: Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy. However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it… There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to…

TRUMP: he said he was gonna ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not, its not, not — not a simple question, not a fair question. OK sit down, I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti- Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person….See, he lied about — he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge, I find it repulsive.

I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the prime minister, you heard Ben Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said, forget it. So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

Fact check: Incoherent. Turx explicitly tried to assure Trump that nobody thought he was anti-Semitic, but Trump’s skin is so thin that he immediately decided Turx was calling him a racist and an anti-Semite. I wonder why?

By the way, the entire point of this press conference seemed to be directed at one thing: accusing the press of being horrible and dishonest. This came up in nearly every Trump answer. This is a great strategy for shoring up his base, of course. As near as I can tell, conservatives all thought this dumpster fire of a press conference was a terrific performance.

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Here Are Your Highlights of Today’s Trump Press Meltdown

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Chart of the Day: Obama Era Ends With 152 Million People at Work, an Increase of 9.9 Million

Mother Jones

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The American economy added 227,000 new jobs last month. Unemployment ticked up slightly from 4.72 percent to 4.78 percent, so the headline rate increased from 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent. The whole jobs report was a little strange, though, due to a whopping revision in BLS’s estimate of the total population of the country. Without the controls, 413,000 people re-entered the labor force and the total number of people employed rose by 457,000. Those are both excellent numbers, even if they did cause the official unemployment rate to rise slightly. The labor participation rate rose from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent regardless of the population revision.

Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees went up at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. By coincidence, that’s also the average annual increase for the entire Obama presidency. In an era of low inflation, that’s OK but not great. Altogether, this is the last jobs report of the Obama era and the starting point for judging the economic policies of the Trump era:

Headline unemployment rate: 4.8 percent
U6 unemployment rate: 9.4 percent
Labor participation rate: 62.9 percent
Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees: $21.84

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Chart of the Day: Obama Era Ends With 152 Million People at Work, an Increase of 9.9 Million

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No, Trump Didn’t Do Best in “Rapidly Diversifying” Counties

Mother Jones

The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump is doing especially well in places where white majorities are dwindling:

Small towns in the Midwest have diversified more quickly than almost any part of the U.S. since the start of an immigration wave at the beginning of this century. The resulting cultural changes appear to be moving the political needle.

That shift helps explain the emergence of Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump as a political force, and signals that tensions over immigration will likely outlive his candidacy….Mr. Trump won about 71% of sizable counties nationwide during the Republican presidential primaries. He took 73% of those where diversity at least doubled since 2000, and 80% of those where the diversity index rose at least 150%, the Journal’s analysis found.

Hmmm. I’m no political scientist, but I play one on the internet—and 71 percent vs. 73 percent sure doesn’t sound like a very substantial effect to me. Trump’s 80 percent win rate in counties where diversity rose by 150 percent is slightly more impressive, but the sample size is pretty low. Here’s the diversity map:

The Journal identifies a “distinct cluster of Midwestern states—Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota” that saw the fastest influx of nonwhite residents. So let’s take a look at who those states supported in the Republican primaries:

That sure doesn’t look like a region where Trump kicked any special ass. In fact, aside from his home territory in the mid-Atlantic states, he did best in the South, which has seen virtually no change in diversity according to the Journal’s map. White folks there have been living among nonwhites for a long time, and they were completely in love with Trump.

I wonder what accounts for that? Economic anxiety, perhaps?

Unemployment is actually lower in rapidly diversifying counties than in the country on the whole, a sign that concerns over lost jobs are weighing less on voters in these areas….Craig Williams, chairman of the Carroll County Republican Party, said it is the lawlessness of illegal immigration that bothers residents. “People talk about immigration as if we’re a bunch of racists,” he said. “Do we have laws, or do we not have laws? If we’re just going to ignore them, then what’s the point?”

It’s a chin scratcher, all right. I guess we’ll never know.

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No, Trump Didn’t Do Best in “Rapidly Diversifying” Counties

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Venezuela Is Descending Into Chaos. Now This Issue Is on America’s Doorstep.

Mother Jones

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Earlier this year, Venezuelan journalist and political scientist Francisco Toro described his home country as “the world’s most visibly failing state.” And now, amid a worsening economic crisis, a crackdown on political opposition, and increasing violent crime, more and more of his countrymen are seeking haven in the United States.

Over the past year, the United States has experienced a surge in asylum applications from Venezuela, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. So far in fiscal 2016, applications from Venezuela soared past 10,000, an increase of 168 percent compared with the fiscal year 2015.

Venezuela’s economic collapse has been making headlines for more than a year. Oil prices plummeted, and price controls led to shortages of basic staples like food and medicine. A recent study from Simón Bolívar University found that 9 out of 10 Venezuelans can no longer afford to buy enough food. Now, people wait in line for hours for essentials like rice and cooking oil, sometimes even fending off armed thieves. As food riots became a daily occurrence, President Nicolás Maduro—who succeeded Hugo Chávez after his death in 2013—put the army in charge of rationing. Food is now transported by armed guards, and police protect against looters. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 480 percent this year, and more than 1,600 percent next year. Unemployment is around 17 percent and is expected to grow to a quarter over the next three years.

On top of all that, Maduro has been cracking down on his political opponents. In December, the opposition coalition won a major victory, securing a majority of seats in parliament for the first time since Chávez came to power in 1999. After that, Maduro intensified his crackdown. The Venezuelan Penal Forum, which tracks human rights abuses, counted 96 political prisoners in June, compared with just 11 when Maduro became president. Meanwhile, election officials signaled earlier this week that a long-promised recall election to oust Maduro would have to wait until 2017.

This combination of food and medicine shortages, political instability, and increasing violent crime is driving Venezuelans out of the country, according to Julio Henriquez, director of the Boston-based nonprofit Refugee Freedom Program, which currently focuses on helping Venezuelan asylum seekers. “There was a lot of hope that the new parliament would make a big difference in the human rights conditions,” he says, “but human rights conditions have worsened.”

So far, Henriquez says, most of the Venezuelan asylum seekers he’s encountered have been middle-class people who’ve come to the United States via a student or tourist visa and then applied for asylum after their arrival. It’s quite a contrast to the Central American families showing up at the US-Mexico border, a situation which advocates have warned for years amounts to a refugee crisis.

Faye Hipsman, an analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, says some Venezuelan asylum applicants may be taking advantage of excessive backlogs in the application process—delays that allow applicants to stay in the United States for years pending the outcome of their claim. And while many are likely fleeing poverty, hunger, and general violence, Hipsman says, it’s often not enough to qualify for asylum, which requires applicants to prove that they risk persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.

“A share of these people have legitimate asylum claims,” she says. “But there’s a lot of concern that for legitimate reasons, people don’t want to go back to Venezuela because it’s dangerous there—and the circumstances are really bad.”

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Venezuela Is Descending Into Chaos. Now This Issue Is on America’s Doorstep.

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Donald Trump Reveals His Economic Plan for the Really Rich

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump just finished reading his big economic policy speech from a teleprompter. He’s really bad at reading from a teleprompter, looking alternately bored and outraged. Here are the pieces that caught my eye:

Huge tax cut for the rich.
But no spending cuts that he’s willing to admit to.
End of estate taxes.
Cut corporate tax rate to 15 percent.
Allow corporations to repatriate foreign earnings at a special 10 percent rate.
Declare China a currency manipulator, even though their currency is currently overvalued, not undervalued. A market rate for the renminbi would make Chinese imports even cheaper.
Slash regulations on corporations.
Pretend global warming doesn’t exist.
Ban all new financial regulation.
Repeal Obamacare.
Implement a childcare tax deduction instead of a tax credit.
He will work with Ivanka on a childcare plan. Because, I guess, Ivanka has kids, so she’s an expert on the problems that low-income workers have with childcare.

This is not exhaustive, and most of the speech was just the usual tired Republican orthodoxy. Mitt Romney could have given 90 percent of it. There was also a lot of random guff about how disastrous the economy is; how the unemployment rate is a hoax; and how American energy, planes, cars, steel, and so forth will employ way more American workers once Trump becomes president.

You bet. As near as I can tell, literally every single one of his proposals above would benefit the rich and do virtually nothing for the working and middle classes. But he sure knows how to put a populist spin on giveaways to the rich, doesn’t he?

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Donald Trump Reveals His Economic Plan for the Really Rich

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