Tag: americans
Perfect Together: History's Worst President And His Wretched First Lady

Perfect Together: History's Worst President And His Wretched First Lady

Melania Trump hasn’t been associating with her husband, Donald, on his retribution tour across America. She hasn’t been at his side during his trials for fraud or for defaming a woman he sexually assaulted in a dressing room. She didn’t even show up for her spouse’s New Year's Eve party. That level of dedicated absence may lead to suggestions that the Einstein visa-winning former nude model doesn’t really care for her ketchup-hurling husband.

But over the weekend, there was more evidence that the pair are perfect for each other. They may not be a match made in heaven, but in whatever spiritual sweatshop cranks out rich-old-guy-and-much-younger-trophy-wife relationships, these two are a chef’s kiss.

That fresh evidence starts with Fox News fuming over the latest presidential rankings from a survey of political scholars who specialize in presidential history. Those rankings once again have Abraham Lincoln in the top spot. It’s also no surprise who is riding in the historical caboose. Not only is Trump ranked dead last, he’s last by a huge margin. It’s bad. Like, way behind James Buchanan bad.

And to really get MAGA fans grinding their molars: Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are in the top 15.

The survey notes that since the last survey of political professors in 2018, Obama’s star has risen significantly, bringing him up nine slots, No. 16 to No. 7. Biden has entered the list at a more-than-respectable No. 14.

Trump is reliably at the end of the line, picking up so few votes that it’s genuinely amazing. Just three points separate the top three spots on the list, making the difference between fans of Lincoln, FDR, and Washington. But Trump is six points behind Buchanan—the biggest difference between two slots on the whole list. It certainly gives the impression that, no matter how many names are added in future surveys, Trump will have no problem defending his territory.

But how does this make him perfect for his disinterested import?

As a weekend article in The New York Times shows, Melania isn’t just disinterested in Donald; she’s disinterested in everything. Especially anything that looks like work.

As the Times put it, Melania spent “spent four years flouting many of the expectations about what a modern first lady should be.” Especially, it seems, when those expectations are visible, engaged, and giving a damn about the nation.

“For months, Mrs. Trump had taken to walking around the Executive Residence in hotel-style terry cloth robes,” insiders told the Times.

Throughout her husband’s presidency, she often perched on the bed in his room to listen to or join his calls with advisers and allies, Stephanie Grisham, Melania’s former press secretary, said in an interview. By the time her White House tenure came to an end, Melania was described as “checked out” and “exhausted,” but there’s not much evidence that she ever really checked in.

Between “Who gives a fuck about Christmas?” and wearing a jacket stamped with "I really don't care, do you?" on her way to a detention center for migrant children, Melania never seemed to even make a gesture in the direction of being concerned about the institution of first lady, the White House, or the nation.

Her office in the East Wing was so rarely used, that it was converted into a space for wrapping gifts. Whether those gifts were for fucking Christmas or some other occasion isn’t clear.

There was one thing that Trump’s wife did seem to like about her time at the White House: how much she got to murder the aesthetics. Whether that was the “evisceration” of the Rose Garden or the hallways of nightmare trees, Melania loved the changes she had made to the White House. And she loved to arrange photo albums of those changes.

“All she cared about was those photo albums,” Grisham said. Though Grisham apparently tossed in an expletive that the Times chose not to print.

The Times also has a perfect description of how Melania spent her days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In the days before the attack on the Capitol, Mrs. Trump had been cataloging the contents of her swag room, including the small mementos and gifts that she would hand out to friends and allies of the Trump family. An aide traveled back and forth to the Executive Residence with a binder listing the current inventory, according to two former Trump White House officials.

In the middle of the assault on the Capitol, as Grisham was trying to get Melania to issue a statement against the violence, the first lady turned her down. Instead, Melania spent Jan. 6 taking pictures of herself with a new rug she had selected for the White House residence. More pictures for her photo albums. Because that was her priority.

Could we please get a fresh ranking of first ladies? It’s safe to say that Eleanor Roosevelt’s spot really isn’t in doubt. But if there was a new list, it seems a pretty good bet that Melania Trump could take the badge of dishonor with the same laziness and disdain she has displayed toward everything else.

Because she and her husband may hate each other, but they are also perfect for each other.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Joe Biden

Surprise! Americans Are Feeling 'Good Vibes' About Their Finances

If we've learned anything from Trump-era post-fact politics, it's that old polling metrics don't exactly translate at the ballot box the way they used to.

A major part of the 2022 “red wave” narrative was informed by the fact that President Joe Biden's approval rating was hovering around a dismal 40 percent and the right track/wrong track numbers were abysmal—net -40s for the final few months of the midterm campaign. In days of old, Democrats, who controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, would have been toast. Instead, they barely lost the House and miraculously managed to pick up one Senate seat.

The point isn't that old metrics aren't meaningful: It's that we have to view them through a new-era lens. At the same time, pollsters need to find new ways to measure the views of the electorate—particularly ones in which responses aren't as driven by partisan bias.

The Axios Vibes surveys seem to be an attempt at that. Yes, the name and concept seem almost laughable—except that, well, maybe they're onto something here.

One of their latest Vibes surveys conducted by Harris Polls finds that, contrary to popular belief, Americans are feeling pretty bullish about their personal finances. Indeed, 63 percent rated their current financial outlook as good, with 19 percent calling it "very good."

Additionally, they feel optimistic about their future finances, with 66 percent saying 2024 will be better than 2023 and 85 percent betting they can improve their personal financial situation this year.

These results may seem impossibly rosy to anyone who has been following voters' views of the economy over the past couple of years. But for one thing, consumer sentiment is actually a lagging indicator as an economy starts to hum again.

As veteran Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi tweeted out regarding the poll, "The Lag means this will start to show up in polling long before November….Americans are actually pretty happy with their finances."

That would be most welcome from a Democratic perspective.

Axios also notes that "political affiliation influences the responses that Republicans, in particular, give when they're asked about the economy." So asking instead about personal finances can elicit different and, in this case, more positive responses.

Views on the economy more broadly have been improving, but they're not exactly the stuff of legend.

In Civiqs tracking on the "current condition" of the economy, for example, voters currently say the economy is 29 points underwater, with 34 percent calling it good and 62 percent calling it bad.

But for perspective, the economy's current condition hasn't been in positive territory since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020. And net -29 on the question is voters' best measure of the economy since October 2021. So overall sentiment is not great, but also consistently moving in a positive direction.

Consumer views about the economy will be taking shape over the next handful of months and helping to inform the overall mood of voters as they begin to size up a likely Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump rematch.

And while those views may not be quite as predictive about 2024 outcomes as they have proven to be in the past, it's possible that consumer sentiment will start to undercut the economic doomsday message that Republicans will be trying to sell the American people on.

That's exactly why Trump is predicting an economic "crash" is on the horizon while rooting for it to happen sooner rather than later.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Joe Biden

Biden Seeks To Curb Big Bank 'Harvesting' Of Overdraft Fees

In 2022 alone, banks made nearly $8 billion off of charging overdraft fees to low-income Americans whose accounts went below zero — sometimes charging broke customers as much as $37 per overdraft. Now, a new proposed rule by President Joe Biden's administration would limit those fees to as little as $3.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced the new proposed rule on Wednesday, which would limit overdraft fees to as little as $3 per transaction. The CFPB says the rule — which affects banks with more than $10 billion in assets — would save approximately 23 million American households a total of $3.5 billion per year. Essentially, the rule would close a loophole banks exploited that exempted overdraft lending services from the Truth in Lending Act and other similar legislation aimed at protecting bank customers.

"Decades ago, overdraft loans got special treatment to make it easier for banks to cover paper checks that were often sent through the mail," CFPB Director Rohit Chopra stated. "Today, we are proposing rules to close a longstanding loophole that allowed many large banks to transform overdraft into a massive junk fee harvesting machine."

The Truth in Lending Act, which was passed in 1968, required financial institutions to disclose the full costs of providing loans to customers. At that time, many families sent checks in the mail, and were unsure of when funds would actually be withdrawn and when a cleared check would post to the account holder's balance. This occasionally resulted in an account being overdrawn, after which the bank would issue a loan to cover the difference.

In 1969, when the Federal Reserve Board of Governors was establishing guidelines for the Act's implementation, they allowed an exception in the rules for banks if a depositor "inadvertently" overdrew their account. In the 1980s and 1990s, when debit cards began replacing checks as the primary form of conducting transactions, banks started charging sky-high fees to capitalize on overdraft loans, raking in billions in extra profit. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are two of the biggest offenders — according to the CFPB, those two banks raked in roughly a third of overdraft fees reported by banks over $1 billion.

"Many banks and credit unions already provide lines of credit tied to a checking account or debit card when the consumer overdraws," the CFPB stated on its website. "The proposal provides clear rules of the road to ensure consistency and clarity."

A post to the CFPB's website established several proposed overdraft fee limits of $3, $6, $7 or $14 solely to help banks recoup costs of issuing overdraft loans rather than as a profit driver, and is soliciting public comment on the appropriate amount.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Why Democracy May Depend On An Orderly Southern Border

Why Democracy May Depend On An Orderly Southern Border

Joe Biden surely knows that chaos at the border threatens his reelection. America's future as a democracy can't wait for the much-needed overhaul of the immigration system. November is approaching, and Biden must take radical steps to deal with the crisis.

Let's be clear. Donald Trump would destroy America as we know it. There is no way I would vote for someone who would turn our beautiful country into a tawdry dictatorship. But that's me. Scenes of disorder could peel away voters otherwise well-disposed to the president.

As it now stands, a flood of migrants cross the southern border illegally, intentionally get caught and claim persecution. They are then allowed to stay pending an asylum hearing, the date of which can be years away. The great majority are obviously coming for economic reasons, but rather than apply through the normal channels, they take advantage of our broken asylum process.

There are "advocates" who will threaten Biden if he curbs the asylum program. Their spokespeople seem to have office passes on CNN and permanent bunks on MSNBC.

But I am hard-pressed to find anyone who buys the advocates' arguments, and I'm surrounded by liberals. Their cities reel under the weight of new arrivals, many with families in tow, needing to be fed and housed.

The reality recently hit home when a Christian Brother, among the most humane men I know, said that he helps refugees but is frustrated by the masses coming over. Nor are open borders, or the perception of them, the key to Latino support that the advocates claim it is. If that were the case, then polls wouldn't be showing Trump gaining support among Hispanics and Biden losing it.

Biden is running a delightful economy; thank you, Joe, for the record stock prices. For Americans with few skills, however, waves of poor migrants threaten their jobs and suppress wages. Immigration is an economic issue.

One can argue that this country needs workers, and here they are. But Americans should be able to decide who and how many come in.

And it's no longer just impoverished central Americans or Venezuelans who are crossing illegally. It's middle-class Chinese. There's a recent surge Africans who fly to Central America and make their way to our southern border with plans to enter illegally.

One African told a reporter at a San Diego migrant center, "Getting into the United States is certain compared to European countries, and so I came." So much for the deterrence power of the U.S. immigration laws.

Upon arriving, the asylum claimants are not allowed to work, hence you have these encampments on the sidewalks. Destination cities like Denver, Chicago, and New York must deal with the expense of feeding and housing the arrivals, often with families in tow.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston argues that his city has a labor shortage and granting these migrants work permits would fill that need while also letting them pay their own way. But here's the problem: Jobs are why most of them cross the border. Providing them with employment only makes the job magnet stronger.

For all his nasty talk about immigrants, Trump does not get off the hook on this matter. He was an enthusiastic employer of illegal labor, never built that wall with Mexico and refused to punish U.S. employers for hiring undocumented workers. Barack Obama deported more people than Trump did. The advocates went after Obama, too, and, if we remember, Obama won reelection.

Immigration is good for the country as long as it is orderly. And defeating Trumpism is essential for the country. Can we count on Biden's excellent political instincts to do what he must to win in November?

Froma Harrop is a longtime editor and columnist who formerly served on the Providence Journal editorial board. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Institutional Investor.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.