Former President Barack Obama, responding to the white nationalist terrorist attack in El Paso that has left 22 people dead, urged U.S. leaders to “soundly reject language” that “feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments” —and although Obama didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines. Not surprisingly, some of Trump’s carnival barkers at Fox News, including Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends,” have reflexively rushed to the president’s defense. And in doing so, Kilmeade has promoted some ideas about Obama’s presidency that are badly flawed.
Trump, known for watching Fox News religiously, tweeted what Politico’s Quint Forgey described as a “distillation of a sentiment” Kilmeade expressed: Trump’s tweet read, “‘Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control.’ ‘Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.’ @kilmeade @foxandfriends.”
It’s true that mass shootings occurred when Obama was president. The United States suffered mass shootings not only under President Obama, but also, under President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. But here’s the problem with the notion that Obama didn’t do enough to prevent mass shootings or political violence: it was Republicans who, in 2009, gave former Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano hell for warning about the terrorist dangers of white nationalism.
“Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.” @kilmeade @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
Napolitano, a centrist Democrat who previously served as governor of Arizona, had strong evidence for her fears: an intelligence report by Daryl Johnson, a former senior analyst and domestic terrorism expert for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In his report, Johnson specifically mentioned “right-wing extremism” and was concerned that extremists might try to recruit returning military veterans.
Republicans in Congress and in the right-wing media were furious. Some demanded that Johnson be fired; some wanted Napolitano fired as well. And DHS, as Johnson noted in an August 21, 2017 article for the Washington Post, “caved to the political pressure.” Johnson’s work in the area of far-right and white nationalist extremism was halted because of the Republican backlash. Kilmeade’s colleagues at Fox News, never missing an opportunity to bash the Obama Administration, painted Johnson’s perfectly legitimate investigation as a partisan attack on the GOP — which it wasn’t.
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, in a column published this week, asserts that Republicans endangered public safety by objecting so vehemently to the DHS’ investigation of white nationalism.
“The party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene,” Krugman recalled. “More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term ‘right-wing extremism’ was unacceptable.”
Of course, Johnson’s fears were perfectly justified. The August 3 shooter in El Paso, according to law enforcement, was motivated by exactly the type of far-right white nationalist extremism that Johnson was worried about — and that Republicans have failed to take seriously.
Kilmeade and his colleagues at Fox News can criticize Obama and praise Trump all they want. But the fact is that Johnson and the DHS, under Obama, tried to investigate and prevent white nationalist terrorism — and the Republicans gave them nothing but grief for it.
Is corporate media creating a misleading impression of voter sentiment? 91 percent of Nevada Dem voters said ‘no’
We caution readers to be very careful in interpreting the Democratic primary election results so far for reasons cited below. We think the way our major news organizations are reporting the primary results can easily create a misleading impression of voter sentiment.
The analysis below should give you pause whether you think Sanders is, and should be, a shoo-in to beat Trump or you fear that a Sanders nomination will ensure a second Trump term and a romp by Republican Congressional candidates.
We ask ardent supporters and foes of Sanders, or any other candidate, to avoid a hot or presumptive reaction to what follows, a concern based on many responses to some of my caucus night tweets and Facebook posts in recent weeks.
Trump White House sets a shocking new record: 300+ days without a press briefing
Journalists learn to adapt to current conditions, be they storms or tantrums, vagaries of nature or whims of officials. White House correspondents these days should be well past their withdrawal symptoms from the daily delirium of the once-regular White House press briefing.
Earlier this year, as 300 days passed without a formal briefing, a bipartisan group of past administration press secretaries called for restoration of the daily briefings.
Trump betrays his promise to fight for America’s workers as he caves to pro-corporate zealots
Campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump promised that, if he was elected, “American worker[s] will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.”
Has he kept this promise?
When it comes to protecting workers’ health and safety, his administration has been a disaster. Once in office, Trump packed the leadership of U.S. regulatory agencies with pro-corporate zealots, leading to predictable results. They repealed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule requiring employers to keep accurate records of injuries, repealed a rule requiring that federal contractors follow safety and labor laws, and withdrew an OSHA policy allowing workers to participate in OSHA inspections. In addition, as the AFL-CIO noted, the Trump administration targeted job safety rules for toxic chemicals, mine examinations, and child labor protections for destruction. It also sharply reduced the number of OSHA inspectors. As of 2019, only 875 were enforcing health and safety regulations nationwide?the lowest level in the agency’s half-century of operation.