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Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would reverse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), right-wing media rushed to praise Trump’s actions by stereotyping DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” as criminals and gang members. They also falsely claimed that the program constitutes a form of “amnesty,” that DACA recipients take jobs from native-born Americans, that the program is unconstitutional, and that President Barack Obama did not take any action to pass comprehensive immigration reform during his tenure.
The Supreme Court will be one of the topics discussed at the final presidential debate of this election, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on October 19. Supreme Court reporters and legal experts have been explaining the significance of the court throughout the election season, because of the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February and the implications for the ideological direction of the court stemming from the election of a new president.
As news broke that Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was reportedly negotiating his departure from Fox, while simultaneously Donald Trump became the GOP candidate for president, media noted that under Ailes Fox News “created space that Trump filled,” “prepare[d] the way for Trump,” and “help[ed] to create Trump's opening.”
Media criticized presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump for calling the federal judge who ordered the release of documents pertaining to Trump’s failed Trump University, Gonzalo Curiel, as a "Mexican” and a “hater.” Media said Trump’s attacks were “racist,” “irresponsible” and “vile.”
As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered what was billed as a “major foreign policy speech,” conservative media personalities attacked him on Twitter, calling the speech a “sickening display of revisionism,” asking if the candidate was “medicated” while giving the address, and declaring that “this is why we’ll need a third” party candidate.
On March 28, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced a legislative compromise to raise the California minimum wage gradually from $10 per hour in 2016 to $15 per hour by 2022. Right-wing media have attacked the historic wage increase, claiming it will kill jobs and that it "goes against every law of capitalism." Meanwhile, mainstream media have promoted misinformation about the minimum wage peddled by restaurant industry front groups.
Media outlets and figures from across the political spectrum criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) for refusing to condemn Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in his March 23 speech where he called for "elevating the national political discourse." According to media figures, Ryan's refusal to condemn Trump amounts to a "tacit acceptance" and "de facto endorsement."
Media figures are calling out National Review's feature of conservatives criticizing current GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, noting that the magazine and conservative media as a whole created the conditions for Donald Trump's rise by "engendering an oppositional mode towards government," being "hostile to immigration and immigrants," and bashing "political correctness."
Libertarian journalist and Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie took issue with the National Review's recent "Against Trump" campaign, which attempts to characterize Donald Trump as a fake conservative. Gillespie argued that Trump "is not at odds with National Review, conservatives, or all the other Republican presidential candidates."
On January 21, the conservative magazine National Review published a special issue titled "Against Trump," in which 22 prominent conservative media figures questioned whether or not the Republican presidential frontrunner is a real conservative. According to National Review, "If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government." Several other conservative commentators reacted by lashing out at National Review, calling it "irrelevant" and "intellectual snobbery," and lamenting that the publication has "lost touch with the electorate."
In a January 25 blog post for Reason.com, Nick Gillespie explained that even though National Review published their "Against Trump" issue, "National Review's editors might at least acknowledge that they helped to create the opportunity [for Trump] in the first place." Gillespie added that Trump's "openly hostile" positions on immigration are "completely in accord with" positions held by many conservatives, and the entire Republican presidential field, all of whom are "at odds with most of the country." Gillespie concluded his post by arguing that there is no reason to think National Review would not eventually support Trump's presidential ambitions if he succeeds in his run for the Republican nomination. From Reason.com (emphasis added):
Donald Trump's appeal among Republicans is directly related to issues and attitudes that mainstream conservatives and Republicans have been harping on for virtually all of the 21st century, if not longer. Anyone with even passing familiarity with National Review, which rarely misses an opportunity to tout its central role in the post-war conservative movement, knows that the magazine has long been extremely hostile to immigration, extremely bellicose when it comes to foreign policy and projecting American "strength" abroad, and extremely quick to attack any real and perceived slights to "American exceptionalism" (a term more often invoked than defined with any precision) while excoriating any real and perceived concessions to "political correctness."
These are exactly the grounds upon which Trump has seized the day in the Republican primary season, so if he is in fact "a philosophically unmoored political opportunist"--and I think that's a pretty fair description -- National Review's editors might at least acknowledge that they helped to create the opportunity in the first place. After all (and whatever his past affiliation), Trump isn't running in the Democratic primaries, is he? And despite the editors' claim that since Jesse Jackson entered the 1984 Democratic race "both parties have been infested by candidates who have treated the presidency as an entry-level position," the plain fact is that it's the GOP and conservatives who regularly trot out and swoon for the likes of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Herman Cain.
Let's be clear: To the extent that Trump is widely and accurately understood to be openly hostile to immigration and immigrants, especially from Mexico, he is not at odds with National Review, conservatives, or all the other Republican presidential candidates. He is completely in accord with all of them -- and they are all at odds with most of the country.
I understand and appreciate National Review's interest in dissociating itself and conservatism from Donald Trump, who just might become the nominee of the Republican Party, for which NR is an unofficial cheerleader and powerful agent of influence (before the Trump contretemps, it was going to co-host a party debate). Certainly from a libertarian perspective (a perspective which has been mostly attacked and dismissed in the pages of National Review for virtually all of its run), Trump is bad news on virtually all fronts, and especially those elements that are part and parcel of the modern conservative and National Review catechism.
But let's not pretend also that National Review won't actually support Trump should he actually become the Republican candidate.
Author and New York Sun co-founder Ira Stoll attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's new climate change plan for focusing on installing solar panels instead of setting emissions limits or investing in battery storage technology. Stoll apparently didn't realize that those policies are included in Clinton's plan, too.
In a July 27 Sun op-ed, which was also published on conservative news sites NewsMax and Reason.com, Stoll lectured Clinton that her goal of installing more than half a billion solar panels by the end of her first presidential term isn't a "serious" climate change strategy. According to Stoll, if Clinton "really wants to fight climate change," she should abandon her solar panel goal and instead pursue other policies, such as "fund[ing] research and development for battery storage" or "set[ting] emissions goals and let[ting] utilities or states decide the cheapest and best ways to meet them" (emphasis added):
If Mrs. Clinton really wants to fight climate change or cut carbon emissions, there are plenty of ways to go about it. She could fund research and development for battery storage. She could set emissions goals and let utilities or states decide the cheapest and best ways to meet them. She could allow more hydrofracturing that replaces coal-fired plants with cleaner oil and natural gas. But counting solar panels? Come on, Mrs. Clinton. Get serious.
But Clinton's proposal actually includes both of those things.
In a briefing fact sheet that she released as part of her climate change plan, Clinton announced that her "Clean Energy Challenge" would include funding "clean energy [research and development], including in storage technology" (emphasis added):
As part of the Clean Energy Challenge, Clinton will ensure that every part of the federal government is working in concert to help Americans build a clean energy future. This includes:
Innovation: Increase public investment in clean energy R&D, including in storage technology, designed materials, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and sequestration. Expand successful innovation initiatives, like ARPA-e, and cut those that fail to deliver results.
And Clinton also confirmed that she would make it a "top priority" to defend and implement the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which sets the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. As the EPA has explained, the Clean Power Plan involves "EPA setting a goal and the states deciding how they will meet it. Each state will choose the best set of cost-effective strategies for its situation."
Stoll's only other climate policy suggestion -- that Clinton "allow more hydrofracturing" -- ignores evidence that methane leaks may eliminate any of the potential climate benefits of extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. And Stoll's claim that oil-fired power plants are "cleaner" than coal-fired plants is an exercise in exceedingly low expectations, since the carbon-intensity of oil-fired plants is only marginally better.
There's also one other reason Clinton shouldn't take Stoll's advice on how to best address climate change: He doesn't accept that it is a particularly serious problem. According to Stoll, "Secretary Clinton assumes that man-made climate change is a risk serious enough to try to mitigate and that America should try to mitigate it by reducing its carbon emissions. These are big 'ifs,' but ones I will grant for argument's sake."
If only he would also grant Clinton all of the proposals that are included in her climate change platform.
Image at top by Paul Morse and taken from Flickr using a Creative Commons License.
Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in "gun-free zones."
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an "abusive government," and claimed that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns."
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
On September 30, California became the first state to ban the use of plastic bags in stores, leading to a barrage of misinformation from various media outlets claiming the ban would actually hurt the environment. However, these contrarian claims are undermined by research showing that previous bans and taxes have reduced energy use and litter, while doing no harm to the economy.
Citing a recent study by the government of Nunavut in Canada, conservative media are claiming that the number of polar bears is "increasing." The takeaway, according to these media outlets, is that concerns about the fate of polar bears in a warming world are overblown. But polar bear scientist Steven Amstrup says these commentators are mistaken.
The polar bears located west of the Hudson Bay are one of 19 polar bear subpopulations, and one of 8 subpopulations that are thought to be shrinking, according to a comprehensive review conducted in 2009. (One population was found to be increasing, three are stable, and there isn't enough data to assess the other seven). Amstrup and others previously analyzed bears captured from 1984-2004 and found that the West Hudson Bay population declined from 1,194 in 1987 to 935 in 2004.
But a new survey by the government of Nunavut, a largely Inuit territory in Northern Canada, puts the population size as of last August at 1,013, according to a widely circulated article in Canada's Globe and Mail. This new estimate is derived from a plausible range of 717 to 1,430 bears and, importantly, comes from an aerial survey, unlike the previous studies which involved capturing and recapturing bears.
Amstrup said media outlets claiming the aerial survey shows an increasing population are mistaking a single point estimate for a trend. "The population size is just a number. It is a valuable number to have, but from the standpoint of population welfare, it is the trend in numbers that is critical," he wrote in an email. Because previous estimates used a different methodology, and covered a different geographic area, they cannot be easily compared to the latest figures, contrary to the media narrative. When the aerial survey is repeated in later years, it will then be able to tell us more about how the population size is changing. In the meantime, the Canadian government is expected to release its latest capture-recapture data next month.
Population estimates are used to determine how many polar bears can be killed each year. Hunting polar bears is a significant source of income among the Inuit, who have been skeptical of dire predictions of popopulation decline.
Amstrup emphasizes that "in the bigger picture, whether any one population is currently declining, stable or increasing is beside the point," adding, "it is criticial to remember that our concern about polar bears is focused on the future." The scientists who spend their lives studying polar bears have been unable to envision how the population numbers can withstand the long-term decline of the sea ice.
More detailed responses from Amstrup below:
As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to "cash in" on "climate gold."