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Feb 07 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Dean Baker: Trump Is Proving the Rich Aren’t Necessarily Insightful

Donald Trump’s first days in the White House have been about as bad as any of us could have imagined. He seems intent on carrying through with campaign promises to ban Muslims from entering the country, building a huge wall along the Mexican border and appointing right-wing Supreme Court justices who would deny women fundamental rights. He is also threatening war with Iran. He seems to have forgotten his economic populist pledges, like lowering drug prices and cracking down on Wall Street.

In spite of the horrors raised by Trump in the early days of his presidency, he may actually provide a valuable service in the longer term, if we survive. Donald Trump may provide irrefutable evidence to the country that being rich doesn’t mean a person has any great insight into anything other than getting rich. If the country learns this lesson, then Trump will have provided a valuable service, even if he may cause much harm in other areas in the process.

Robert Reich: Trump and Bannon’s “America First”

Donald Trump has reorganized the National Security Council – elevating his chief political strategist Steve Bannon, and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, the top inter-agency group advising the President on national security.

Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed,” according to the presidential memorandum issued Saturday.

Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice.

But forget facts. Forget analysis. This is the Trump administration.

And what does Bannon have to bring to the table?

Amanda Marcotte: From “Obamaphones” to an attack on internet access: The strange afterlife of a right-wing meme

Over the summer, the United Nations declared that internet access is a human right, releasing a nonbinding resolution that unequivocally condemns “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law” This resolution came after Barack Obama had declared in 2015 that “high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

While many nations — including Russia, China and Saudi Arabia — refused to sign the 2016 U.N. resolution, the United States did sign it and Obama’s administration made a number of moves to expand internet access to low-income Americans, many of whom many of whom struggle to pay for even the most basic level of service.

In March of 2016, the FCC made an important move to help meet Obama’s goals, approving a plan to make broadband easier for low-income households to afford. But now Ajit Pai, Donald Trump’s pick for head of the Federal Communications Commission, appears to be making moves to take that internet access away.

Late Friday, in a move Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn characterized as a “Friday news dump,” Pai told nine internet companies they are no longer allowed to provide low-cost internet service to people who qualify.

Eugene Robinson: Trumpism is all tantrums, all the time

No one should have been surprised when President Trump raged that the “so-called judge” who blocked his travel ban should be blamed “if something happens.” It is clear by now that the leader of the free world has the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old who kicks, punches and holds his breath when he can’t have ice cream.

He dismisses anything he doesn’t want to hear as “fake news,” which is the equivalent of holding his hands over his ears. A poll showing that most people disapprove of the ban? Photographic evidence that the crowd for his inauguration was less than historic? Fake! All fake! [..]

Thus far, senior advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Stephen Miller — both from the nationalistic, protectionist, anti-immigration alt-right — have proved most skillful at the game of intrigue in Trump’s court. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has had less success in getting the president to pursue a traditional Republican agenda, though he is likely to get the deregulation and tax cuts his party wants. Kellyanne Conway’s overreach with “alternative facts” and “the Bowling Green massacre” seem to have pleased, not irked, her boss. Son-in-law Jared Kushner has had little apparent impact thus far, but he can play the long game because he’s family and doesn’t have to worry about being fired.

But make no mistake: We are talking about the rising and falling fortunes of courtiers who, with flattery and whispers and flowery professions of fealty, serve the unpredictable whims of their liege lord. The next four years promise to be a history lesson in the sort of thing that caused American democracy to be born.

Jill Abramson: Dismantling Dodd-Frank: Donald Trump’s Valentine’s gift to Wall Street

Donald Trump has succeeded in grafting his own attention deficit onto policy-making. And with executive orders flying off his desk at such a frenzied pace, it is almost impossible to choose which of them deserves the loudest howls of outrage. [..]

As awful as they are, all these moves have been overshadowed and overtaken by the immigration ban that offends American decency and the Constitution. This one is so overpoweringly awful that it obscures the earlier ones and the forgetful symptoms begin to feel like a strange form of Trump-related dementia.

On Friday the country’s attention was glued to the brave Seattle federal judge who overturned the Trump immigration ban. But that same day, the president was closeted with the very people he denounced in his faux-populist campaign: the Wall Street elite. He welcomed Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, one of the biggest global banks, and Larry Fink of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm.

He had an enormous gift for them: the undoing of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were passed to protect consumers after the 2008 financial meltdown but were deemed overly burdensome by the bankers.