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Bernie Sanders Exposes Glaring Falsehoods In Trump’s ‘Unifying’ Address

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear issued a formal Democratic response to Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday. But the most blistering reply may have belonged to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who took to Facebook shortly thereafter. “I wanted to say a few words about what [Trump] didn’t say, because when you analyze the speech sometimes what is more important is what somebody does not say as opposed to what they actually say,” he began.

Below are 12 glaring omissions, contradictions, and lies Sanders spotted in Trump’s address:

1. Social Security and Medicare

“At at a time when all over half of older Americans have no retirement savings, I did not hear President Trump say one word not one word about Social Security or Medicare,” Sanders pointed out.

“During the campaign, as we all remember, President Trump promised over and over and over again that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid,” he explained. “But in his first address [to Congress], he didn’t even mention Social Security or Medicare once, not a single time.”

While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted the programs would not be touched in an interview this past weekend, President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, has defended such cuts.

“I urge President Trump, keep your promises tell the American people tweet to the American people that you will not cut Social Security Medicare and Medicaid,” Sanders said.

2. Income and Wealth Inequality

Trump’s speech to Congress briefly touched on poverty in America. However, Sanders “did not hear President Trump mention the words ‘income and wealth inequality’ or the fact that we now have the widest gap between the very rich and everyone else since the 1920’s.”

3. Campaign Finance

“I did not hear President Trump mention the fact that as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, a five-to-four decision. We now have a corrupt campaign finance system that is allowing billionaires to buy elections and undermine American democracy,” Sanders was eager to point out.

To the first-time politician who has repeatedly boasted about funding his own campaign, Sanders asked, “How could you give a speech to the nation and not talk about that enormously important issue?”

4. Voter Suppression

In his speech, President Trump used the phrase “guided by the well-being of American citizens.”

“[But] not only did President Trump not mention the issue of voter suppression, what Republican governors are doing all over this country to make it harder for people to participate in our democracy, but the truth of the matter is his administration is now working, working overtime, with Republican governors to make it harder for young people, low-income people, senior citizens, and people of color to vote,” Sanders explained. “That is an outrage.”

5. Climate Change

“Perhaps most astoundingly, and a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity, that it is already causing devastating problems in our country and all over the world, I did not hear President Trump say one word, not one word, about the need to combat climate change, the greatest environmental threat facing our planet,” Sanders hammered.

Not only did Trump not mention climate change, “he pledged to increase our dependency on fossil fuels,” Sanders added.

6. Criminal Justice

“At a time when we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth, disproportionately African-American, Latino, Native American, I did not hear President Trump say one word about how he was going to fix a broken criminal justice system,” Sanders pointed out.

“Yes, we must support the hard work of men and women in the police departments, in the sheriff’s departments all over this country, but we must also end the disgrace of having more people in jail than any other country on Earth,” he added.

7. Higher Education

“At a time when we need the best-educated workforce in the world to compete in a highly competitive global economy, I did not hear President Trump say one word, not one word, about the need to lower the cost of college and to do what countries all over the world are doing, and that is to make public colleges and universities tuition free,” Sanders said.

8. “Drain the Swamp”

“During his campaign, President Trump told us that he was going to take on Wall Street and ‘drain the swamp’,” Sanders reminded viewers. “Well, the swamp, big time, is now in his administration, which has more millionaires and billionaires than any presidential administration in history.”

“Amazingly enough, for somebody who was going to ‘drain the swap’, who’s going to take on Wall Street, his chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, is the former president of Goldman Sachs, one of the major financial institutions that take billions of dollars in fines for their illegal activity,” Sanders added.

9. Glass-Steagall Act

“I did not hear President Trump say one word about another campaign promise that he made to the American people, and that was to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act,”

In his speech, President Trump proposed a $1 trillion investment in American infrastructure, “but the specifics of the financing plan that he has provided us with so far are absolutely wrong,” Sanders concluded. “We cannot rebuild our infrastructure by providing billions of dollars in tax breaks to Wall Street and large corporations.”

10. Clean Water Rules

“Donald Trump said tonight that we need to ‘promote clean air and clean water’… I had a difficult time not laughing out loud when he said that,” Sanders admitted, since “On this very, very day, he signed an executive order rolling back President Obama’s clean water rules and has appointed the most anti-environmental EPA administrator in our nation’s history.”

11. Military Spending

“President Trump said [Tuesday night] that he wants to substantially increase funding for the Pentagon,” Sanders recalled. “What he didn’t say tonight is that he will come up with that $84 billion dollars in increased funding for the Pentagon by slashing programs that benefit the working people of this country, that benefit the elderly, that benefit the children, the sick and the poor.”

12. Prescription Drug Costs

“As he did during his campaign, Donald Trump claimed that he would bring down the cost of prescription drugs,” Sanders told viewers. “A few weeks ago, he even said that the pharmaceutical industry was ‘getting away with murder’, but if Donald Trump really wanted to take on the pharmaceutical industry, he would have told his Republican friends in the House and the Senate to pass legislation, which I [re]introduced today with 20 senators allowing Americans to import safe low-cost medicine from Canada.”

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

IMAGE: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivers a speech on “Democratic Socialism in America,” to students at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall in Washington. November 19, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

What You Need To Know About Authoritarianism

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Amanda Taub was looking at her iPhone at 3 a.m. early this year — she was feeding her baby and just trying to stay awake. That’s when she stumbled on something that could explain what’s going on in our country. Taub, then a reporter for Vox, had found research about authoritarianism — not about political leaders who exhibit those traits, but rather about what triggers people to support them.

Her resulting article — The Rise of American Authoritarianism — detailed how economic, social, demographic and political trends have created a powerful force that could persist well past Donald Trump’s coming presidency.

Taub, now at The New York Times, spoke to us last week. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

There’s a simple way to test for authoritarian support — and it’s not by asking political questions:

You ask people four questions about their parenting preferences and they’re questions like, “Which is more important, for a child to be obedient or self-reliant?” They sound pretty neutral.

Obedience and self-reliance are things I think most people would say are good things. It doesn’t feel like a trick or a trap. But really they’re designed to figure out how important it is to people that there is a hierarchy of authority and people following rules. You can see how that would be something that would show up in parenting preferences.

That support becomes much more active in the face of perceived threats — physical, economic and cultural. And there are a lot of them nowadays:

We’ve been seeing a number of quite rapid social changes that researchers believe are the kind of thing that would activate authoritarians.

For the last couple of decades, immigrant communities in the United States have been spreading out throughout the country. We had a black President. We have had a number of other changes, including the way that the country’s economy is changing.

Any one of these things wouldn’t necessarily have that much of an effect on its own, but together, they mean that the country is going through really profound shifts. They are shifts that have had particular impact on the less educated white voters. What researchers believe is that those voters, the authoritarians among them, are particularly likely to seek out authoritarian leaders right now because the circumstances have put them under stress.

What the research suggests is that if you have that world view, you are particularly uncomfortable with people who are different, with outsiders, with what researchers often call “out groups.” Authoritarians are much more likely to find that threatening. That is really a key thing to understand about a lot of the things we’ve seen during this election.

Why it all goes beyond Trump — and how money pouring into politics has contributed:

This wasn’t an effect of just one politician, one celebrity or something like that. There was a real demand for this from a large chunk of the American voting public. What that suggested to me is that there would be an opening for other politicians like Trump to embrace that style of politics. I definitely still believe that, particularly because one of the things that tends to keep politics on a fairly even keel and makes really unusual events unusual is institutions.

For politics, one of the most important ones are political parties. Right now, political parties in the United States are quite weak. This is partly due to the way campaign finance works. There’s more and more money that circumvents the parties.

One thing that journalists should take from all this is, don’t assume there’s “some sort of law of physics” that democratic countries will stay that way:

One of the reasons why I call so many academics is this has happened in other parts of the world and this has happened in parts of history and so there’s a lot of knowledge out there. One of the most important things for us to do is to draw on the existing knowledge about what is important in political moments like this, what causes this kind of political behavior, where it can go and really make use of that and bring it to the public’s attention.

We can’t just assume that it’s some sort of law of physics that once a country is a democracy, it will stay that way.

It’s not just about holding powerful people to account. That’s always important, but it’s also about making clear to people the stakes of this. I think that’s not just about the current administration. One of the things that this research has made very clear to me is that this is not just a story about politicians. This is a story about the country and what is going on with the public and voters that we need to pay attention to.

Want to know more? Taub sent us a helpful reading list:

  • Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics,” by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler: This book is long and quite dense, but it’s a worthwhile read if you want to understand how authoritarian personality traits interact with American party politics.
  • Authoritarianism, Threat, and Americans’ Support for the War on Terror,” by Marc Hetherington and Elisabeth Suhay: I think that this is the other piece of the puzzle — a research paper that suggests that everyone becomes more likely to support authoritarian policies if they’re sufficiently scared — the difference between authoritarians and non-authoritarians is how easy it is to scare them, and what they find frightening.
  • Changing Places: Mapping the white British response to ethnic change,” by Eric Kaufmann and Gareth Harris. This report is about the United Kingdom, not the U.S. But white responses to ethnic change are also a factor in U.S. politics today, and Kaufmann and Harris have written an interesting and informative case study on that subject.
  • Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash,” by Pippa Norris and Ron Inglehart: Norris and Inglehart’s careful research suggests that support for Trump, Brexit, and other anti-immigrant populist politics in Europe isn’t the result of economic marginalization. Rather, it’s a backlash to cultural and social change.

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For more, check out How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the Unimaginable.

IMAGE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he takes the stage at a “Thank You USA” tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

Trump’s Campaign Purchased $55,000 Worth Of His Own Book

Donald Trump’s campaign spent $55,055 at Barnes & Noble on purchases of his own book, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission and a new report by The Daily Beast. This report comes a day after it was revealed that the Trump team paid over 400 percent more in rent to Trump Tower after donors began funding the campaign.

A Trump spokesperson told The Daily Beast the books were for the purposes of RNC gifts, which the campaign team “[has] to do.” The Republican National Committee did not confirm or deny that Trump’s team was required to spend this much on gifts for attendees. RNC gift bags included kitschy “Make America Great Again!” items and a copy of Trump’s recent book, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again.

According to The Daily Beast, if Trump receives the royalties from these sales, the transaction would be illegal under Federal Election Committee rules.

“It’s fine for a candidate’s book to be purchased by his committee, but it’s impermissible to receive royalties from the publisher,” a spokesman for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group, said to the website. “That amounts to an illegal conversion of campaign funds to personal use. There’s a well established precedent from the FEC that funds from the campaign account can’t end up in your own pocket.”

Trump’s team had no comment for the publication when asked about whether Trump would forgo royalties.

Photo: Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Trump Raised The Rates At Trump Tower Once Donors Were Footing The Bill

According to a new report released by The Huffington Post, GOP nominee Donald Trump raised the rental rates at Trump Tower by over 400 percent once donors were footing the bill.

HuffPost reports that the Trump campaign paid $35,458 in rent to Trump Tower Commercial LLC during the month of March, while Trump was still “self-funding” his campaign. It had been paying that same rate since the prior summer, when it had  197 employees and consultants on its payroll.

In July, however, after Trump began raising funds from donors, the rent mysteriously jumped up to $169,758, almost five times the amount from March. This, despite the fact that the Trump campaign actually had less employees and consultants it did previously.

An anonymous RNC staffer told HuffPost, “If I was a donor, I’d want answers. If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”

Trump has also paid his golf courses and restaurants over $200,000 since beginning fundraising efforts and the individual payment amounts appear to be generally higher than they were when he was loaning money to his campaign himself.

According to the Trump campaign, campaign staff moved into a larger space, legally requiring a larger payment. But they did not address why they would need more space with fewer staff.

“Nobody cares when you’re spending your own money, but when you’re spending the donor’s $27, that could cause problems,” the RNC member told HuffPost.

Trump has had a somewhat shady history of profiting off his campaign and of “self-funding,” claiming for months that he was paying directly for campaign expenses while instead loaning himself money at zero interest. He has since written off the loans as full donations to his campaign.

Photo: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S., August 13, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin