Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Schieffer: Racism underlying Trump's assertions

Donald Trump has moved on from the "birther" conspiracy to allege President Barack Obama didn't get good enough grades to warrant entry to Harvard Law School, an assertion that CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer called absurd on the "CBS Evening News" on Wednesday.

"That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing. We can hope that kind of comes to an end too, but we'll have to see," Schieffer said.

Trump first raised the issue on Monday with the Associated Press, saying: "I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."

In a press conference Wednesday after arriving in the important primary state of New Hampshire, the potential candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination continued to pound on the issue, saying: "The word is, according to what I've have read, is that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. He then gets to Columbia and then gets to Harvard. I heard at Columbia he was not a very good student, and then he then he gets into Harvard. How do you get into Harvard if you are not a good student? Maybe that's right, maybe that's wrong, but I don't know why he doesn't he release his records. Why doesn't he release his Occidental records?"

Trump explained the source of his concerns about Mr. Obama's undergraduate education performance. "I am just reporting what I read. Hey, I read stuff that you people write," Trump said in response to a question from a reporter at his press conference on whether he was using innuendo as opposed to facts to attack Mr. Obama.

Trump had said earlier that he raised the "bad grades" question because he had friends with smart kids who couldn't get into Harvard.

Mr. Obama received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1983. (He transferred from Occidental College in 1981.) He then got his Juris doctorate from Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1991.

Donald Trump in New Hampshire amid ‘birther’ madness

  “Today, I am very proud of myself because I have accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish. I was just informed...that our president has finally released a birth certificate. …He should have done it a long time ago…when the Clintons asked for it.”
--Donald Trump, April 27, 2011
“CNN did a poll -- CNN did a poll recently where Obama and I are statistically tied. If you would like, I can send it to you. Just call up CNN.”
--Trump, April 27, 2011
“I am a Republican. I'm a very strong Republican. And I have been a Republican for a long while. And I'm proud of it.”
--Trump, April 27, 2011
“The other question I ask is this, we get no oil from Libya. We get no oil…China, taking over the world gets a big portion of its oil from Libya. They're Libya's biggest customers.”
--Trump, April 27, 2011
“During that entire week, the dominant news story wasn't about these huge, monumental choices that we're going to have make as a nation; it was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.”
--President Obama, April 27, 2011

President Obama released a copy of his so-called “long-form” birth certificate Wednesday, and prospective GOP candidate Donald Trump promptly took credit when his plane landed in New Hampshire. During his news conference, the self-proclaimed billionaire made a series of statements that cry out for checking.
 The president, in his brief statement, also made a comment that seems to stretch the facts, so we will look at that as well.

The Facts

 We will grant Trump his belief that he forced the administration to release this document with his constant demands in the last month to see the original birth certificate.
 White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, in a news briefing, acknowledged that the president acted because “in recent weeks, the issue has risen again.” Obama himself couldn’t resist a sharp dig clearly aimed at Trump: “We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”
But Trump goes too far when he claims that that our president has finally released a birth certificate. As has been repeatedly reported, the document released by the Obama campaign in 2008 is the legal document proving birth in the state of Hawaii. (In other words, Obama would use it to get his passport.) There are no ifs, ands or buts about that fact, no matter what you may have read on one of the birther blogs.
The document released Wednesday is the form, bound in a volume in the records of the state health department, that forms the basis for the legal document that the Obama campaign had previously released. Of course, the release of that document has not convinced the skeptics of Obama’s birth history (See here and here).
Trump further makes the claim that “the Clintons asked for it.” He repeated this two more times in his news conference, specifically mentioning Hillary Clinton at one point. But this is incorrect. The Clinton campaign never made an issue of Obama’s birth certificate, though there is evidence that the birther controversy originally began on the left—not the right.
After Clinton lost the nomination race to Obama, some of her diehard supporters began to question the circumstances of Obama’s birth. John Avlon, author of a book titled Wingnuts, wrote that “the Birther conspiracy theory was first concocted by renegade members of the original Obama haters, Party Unity My Ass, known more commonly by their acronym, the PUMAs. They were a splinter group of hard-core Hillary Clinton supporters who did not want to give up the ghost after the bitter 50-state Bataan Death March to the 2008 Democratic nomination.”
 The Obama campaign released his birth certificate in response to these questions, but that did not stop the first birther lawsuit from being filed in August of 2008—by Philip Berg, a Democrat and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
 Trump veered off in fantasyland at other points during his news conference.
 “CNN did a poll recently where Obama and I are statistically tied.”  
This claim immediately puzzled CNN, which put one of its pollsters on the air to explain whether or not this was true. The answer was an emphatic “no.” CNN has never done a head to head comparison, though three other polls show him behind Obama by double digits.
CNN, however, does show Trump statistically tied with Mike Huckabee in the race for the GOP nomination, so maybe the real estate mogul mixed up Obama with the former governor of Arkansas.  (Caveat: all of these polls are fairly meaningless at this point.)
“I have been a Republican for a long while.” 
Trump has been a Republican, but at least from 2001 to 2008 he was a registered Democrat. In fact, The Washington Post documented that most of his political contributions have been to Democrats. NY1, the New York news channel, recently examined Trump’s voting record and found that he did not vote in primary elections for a span of 21 years, even during the historic fight between Obama and Clinton. At the time, Trump said he supported Obama, saying he “has a chance to go down as a great president.”
  Trump defended his contributions Wednesday by saying that Democrats so dominate the political life of New York that “a Democrat will get 94 percent of the vote and that's if a Republican is doing a good job.” The numbers are sometimes lopsided, but never like that in contested races.
 “We get no oil from Libya…[The Chinese are] Libya's biggest customers.”
 Wrong. The United States is not a big consumer of Libyan oil, but it gets some, while China is far from the biggest customer. According to the latest figures from the Energy Information Administration, about 28 percent of Libya's oil goes to Italy, 15 percent to France, 11 percent to China, 10 percent to Germany and Spain and 3 percent to the United States. 
Finally, we have to take issue with Obama’s statement that coverage of the birth certificate “dominated” coverage during the week the House Republican put forward a budget plan and the president responded to it with a major speech.
We have asked the White House for documentation, but in the meantime the Pew Research Center found based on 52 news sources that the ongoing deficit debate accounted for 31 percent of all news coverage that week, swamping coverage of issues such as the earthquake in Japan, the economy and gasoline prices, which actually had much higher interest among the public. The birther rumors accounted for about four percent of the news coverage, Pew said.  The issue also did not dominate social media.  
Obama was making a rhetorical point, but it is still worthy of at least a Pinocchio unless we get clarification from the White House. (Our colleague Anne Kornblut reports that Obama was furious after a recent interview by ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos veered from fiscal issues to birther questions.)  

The Pinocchio Test

Trump continues his pattern of simply making things up. Sometimes it is hard to find where the thread of truth might even begin.

Barack Obama Just Made Another Huge Political Error

Barack Obama
Image: The White House
What was Obama thinking?
The best think the President had going for him in the 2012 election was the fact that the nutters were running the show on the GOP side, and not talking at all about the real issues of the day.
Now, by releasing his birth certificate, he's taking this issue off the table, giving plenty of breathing room for the "mainstream" candidates (Romney, Pawlenty, Huckabee, etc.) to easily distance themselves from the fringe candidates.
Obama should have let the Republicans squirm as long as he could, watching them deal with Donald Trump's theatrics.
Beyond that, he confirmed that it's the GOP that dominates the debate. What they want, they get. He's at their whim.

TOP BIRTHER RESPONDS: Birth Certificate Doesn't Matter Because Obama Renounced His Citizenship In Indonesia

phil berg birther
Image: Courtesy of
Phil Berg, the attorney who filed the first birther lawsuits, said today that the release of President Barack Obama's birth certificate does not resolve the issue of his presidential eligibility.
Obama may have been born in Hawaii, Berg says, but he renounced his American citizenship when he was adopted by his stepfather Lolo Soetoro while living in Indonesia. Berg claims Obama's Indonesian school records list him as an Islamic Indonesian named Barry Soetoro.

"I'm not that concerned with the birth certificate," Berg told TBI this morning. "Unless there is evidence that he renounced his Indonesian citizenship, we believe he is an illegal president."
The release of the birth certificate is a "good first step," Berg said. "But I don't think it solves all of our problems. At best, he is naturalized citizen, and a naturalized citizen cannot be president."

Berg has changed his tune on the birth certificate issue after courts dismissed his 2008 and 2009 law suits that claimed Obama was actually born in Kenya. He says he is now getting ready to file a new suit that asserts Obama is an illegal alien.

Bear in mind, the former Pennsylvania prosecutor also sued President George W. Bush, claiming in 2004 that the president was complicit in the September 11 attacks.

Report: 1 in 4 children in US raised by a single parent, higher than other developed nations

MIAMI — One in four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent — a percentage that has been on the rise and is higher than other developed countries, according to a report released Wednesday.

Of the 27 industrialized countries studied by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. had 25.8 percent of children being raised by a single parent, compared with an average of 14.9 percent across the other countries.
Ireland was second (24.3 percent), followed by New Zealand (23.7 percent). Greece, Spain, Italy and Luxemborg had among the lowest percentages of children in single-parent homes.

Experts point to a variety of factors to explain the high U.S. figure, including a cultural shift toward greater acceptance of single-parent child rearing. The U.S. also lacks policies to help support families, including childcare at work and national paid maternity leave, which are commonplace in other countries.
“When our parents married, there was a sense that you were marrying for life,” said Edward Zigler, founder and director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. “That sense is not as prevalent.”

Single parents in the U.S. were more likely to be employed — 35.8 percent compared to a 21.3 percent average — but they also had higher rates of poverty, the report found.

“The in-work poverty is higher in the U.S. than other OECD countries, because at the bottom end of the labor market, earnings are very low,” said Willem Adema, a senior economist in the group’s social policy division. “For parents, the risk is higher because they have to make expenditures on childcare costs.”
The Paris-based organization looked at a broad sector of indicators that affected families and children, including childhood poverty, early education and amount of time spent on parental care.

Across the nations examined, preschool enrollment has grown from 30 to 50 percent between 1998 and 2007. The average enrollment was 58.2 percent, while in the U.S. it was lower.
The report noted that public spending on child welfare and education is higher in the U.S. than in other countries — $160,000 per child compared to $149,000. However, the authors say most of that money is spent after the crucial early childhood years.

“This means early investment — including childcare and support for families around the time of birth — could be strengthened,” the authors wrote in a separate paper examining the United States.
The study pointed out that the U.S. is the only OECD country that does not have a national paid parental leave policy. Some states have started to adopt such policies, but most parents are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This is particularly difficult for unwed mothers, who may not be able to afford to take time off, Zigler said.
“We have not built in the kind of national support systems for families and children that other countries have,” he said.

Childhood poverty rates in the U.S. are also expected to climb — 23.5 percent from 20 percent. Adema said the rise is a direct result of the financial crisis and higher unemployment rates.
“The financial strain causes all sorts of other strain, so ultimately it might contribute to family dissolution,” Adema said. “At the same time, it might bring some families together. I suspect that the response differs across families.”

The single parent phenomenon has been occurring over recent decades. The study noted the U.S. and England have higher teenage birthrates than other countries, partially contributing to the higher single-parent numbers, though the proportion of children born outside marriage was not significantly higher than the other countries.

Christina Gibson Davis, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, said changing gender roles, the rise of contraception, high incarceration rates in some communities and an acceptance of having children out of wedlock have all contributed to the growing number.
Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, added it isn’t being a single parent in itself that raises difficulties.

“Single moms do a brilliant and amazing job raising their children,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “It is also true that single moms in this country are systemically underpaid, and systematically under-resourced and systemically unrespected. It’s not the fact they are single moms that makes things difficult.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

Obama releases long-form birth certificate

President Obama's birth certicificate, as released by the White House.
(Credit: AP)
Updated at 11:10 a.m. In an effort to finally put to rest questions about where he was born, the White House on Wednesday released President Obama's long-form birth certificate. (seen above)
Mr. Obama even made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to urge the press and American citizens to drop the issue and focus on the nation's real problems.

"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," Mr. Obama said. "We've got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there still looking for work... We do not have time for this kind of silliness."
Mr. Obama had in 2008 released on the Internet his "certificate of live birth" -- a short-form birth certificate provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state -- but that failed to quell rumors that the president was born outside of the U.S.
Those rumors were brought back into the forefront of discussion in recent weeks thanks to questions from Donald Trump, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender, who has said he is unconvinced of the president's origins. A recent CBS News/ New York Times poll showed that one in four Americans incorrectly believe Mr. Obama was born outside of the United States.

The White House today said it took the effort to release Mr. Obama's long-form birth certificate so that the nation can move on from this "fake issue."
Obama: Media has been "distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers"
Trump takes credit for Obama birth certificate release, but wonders "is it real?"
"At a time of great consequence for this country - when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog. "The President's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country."

Mr. Obama said in the briefing room today that he normally wouldn't comment on an issue like this. Yet he noted that in the past few weeks, "the Republican house pout forward a budget that will have huge consequences and... I gave a speech about my budget and how we need to invest in education and infrastructure." Yet the dominant news story "was about my birth certificate."

The president said he's confident the nation can come together to solve its problems, but "we're not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other... if we just make stuff up and pretend facts are not facts."

As the White House continued to receive requests for the president's birth certificate, Mr. Obama finally directed his legal counsel to ask the Hawaii State Department of Health to break their protocol and release his long-form birth certificate. According to the White House, the state granted the exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.

The White House today also handed out to reporters in the press briefing room copies of Mr. Obama's birth certificate.

"The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country," Pfeiffer wrote. "It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country."

At a press conference in New Hampshire today, Trump boasted that he was able to compel Mr. Obama to release his long-form birth certificate when no one else could.

"I feel I've accomplished something really, really important, and I'm honored by it," he said. "You have to ask the president, why didn't he do it a long time ago?"

He added that "now we can talk about oil, we can talk about gasoline prices, we can talk about China ripping off this country."

Even so, Trump expressed skepticism about this latest birth certificate.

"It is rather amazing that it all of a sudden materializes," he said. "A lot of people have to look at it, experts will look at it."

As Pfeiffer explained on the White House blog, the matter should have been put to rest back in 2008, when Mr. Obama released his short-form "certificate of birth" because it is the standard Hawaiian birth certificate.

"The document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver's license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes," he wrote. "That's because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question."
Along with Trump, a couple other potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates reacted to the White House release via Twitter.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted, "Media: admit it, Trump forced the issue. Now, don't let the WH distract you w/the birth crt from what Bernanke says today. Stay focused, eh?"

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tweeted, "What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan."