FROM Bill Bishop
Separating Fact and Fiction: Truth and Lies in American Politics Today Nobody should be surprised when politicians distort the facts or tell outright lies. In 2007, the St. Petersburg Times introduced a feature called PolitiFact . It's complete with a "Truth-O-Meter," and a range from "True" through "Mostly True" to "Mostly False," "False" and finally, "Pants on Fire." PolitiFact joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org . The Washington Post now has a regular feature called The Fact Checker . While such checkers promise to give voters the truth, they themselves are critiqued from the Right and the Left, accused of choosing the facts they check according to hidden agendas. Does one side lie more than the other? Do the media add to the confusion by trying to find "balance" between the two or are "facts" really what voters want to know? If so, why do they sometimes cling to beliefs in proven falsehoods?
Is Income Inequality a Threat to the Middle Class? One hundred years ago, in the era of Robber Barons, the richest 1% of Americans had 18% of the nation's income. The income tax, labor unions and the New Deal leveled things out but, since the 1970's, the income gap has been growing again and now it's wider than ever. Are the very rich just the top of a healthy middle class, or is the economy a zero-sum game with top earners refusing to let their wealth trickle down? We hear a debate that underlies the issues being raised in this year's midterm campaigns.
Tracking the Great Recession, Region by Region In Detroit, the median price of a home is now estimated at $7500, less than the lowest priced new car on the market. In Lehigh Acres, once a middle-class suburb of Miami, one out of every four people is now on food stamps. What's now being called the Great Recession comes hard on the heels of a massive boom in construction. Construction workers, mostly men without college degrees, are among those most likely to find themselves unemployed. Just as different sectors of the economy are hit to different degrees, so are different regions of the country. Wall Street's been hit hard by unemployment, but New York City is strong and diverse enough to rebuild. Other parts of the country may not be so lucky. We examine the impact of the recession in different regions and their different prospects for economic recovery.
Opposites Don't Attract: Presidential candidates appeal to the "working class" and "ordinary people" with the promise of unifying America for the "common good." But that turns out to mean different things in different places, and it's not just a matter of Red States versus Blue. Wealth and mobility have freed Americans to move wherever they want to and they end up with people just like themselves, culturally as well as politically. What might sound obvious turns out to be an index of major change over the past 30 years. Is segregation-by-lifestyle dividing cities and neighborhoods? Whatever happened to "class?" Is political unification possible any more?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?