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Feb 14 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Trump administration’s other war on the media

The Trump administration’s unrelenting attacks on the media and assault on reality have been well covered by journalists and media outlets that find themselves in the new administration’s crosshairs. Yet while the White House’s insistence on “alternative facts” may be more visibly ominous, there is another growing threat to the independent media that also demands our attention.

Despite his crusade against the press, Trump’s contempt does not seem to apply to the massive conglomerates — such as Comcast and Verizon — with so much influence over what the American people watch on television and read on the Internet. And at a time when extreme commercialization has helped drive the decline of accountability journalism, Trump and his recently appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman, Ajit Pai, have signaled their intention to exacerbate the problem.

Richard Wolffe: Mike Flynn might be done – but Trump’s nightmare has just begun

Cast your mind back to four months ago, when Donald Trump was just a long-shot candidate with a hot-headed adviser by the name of Michael Flynn.

It was the homestretch of the presidential election and national security wasn’t some side issue, mentioned in passing. Trump promised he would be a tough national security president with the toughest national security team.

In fact, one of his favorite arguments was that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be trusted with the country’s national security because, he claimed, she couldn’t be trusted with her private email server.

It sounded ridiculous at the time. But after a month of this gonzo president, our memories are already fading. Propaganda will do that to you, as George Orwell warned us all in 1984. Sometimes two and two are four. Sometimes they are five. [..]

Now: what do Michael Flynn and Mar-a-Lago mean for national security?

Michael H. Fuchs: Donald Trump’s doctrine of unpredictability has the world on edge

Trying to piece Donald Trump’s foreign policy together, one cannot be blamed for missing the grand strategy in it all. Maybe Trump is a realist; or maybe he wants to dismantle the US-led international order. Perhaps he is purely a dealmaker.

Whatever the approach, one theme is consistent in Trump’s actions and words: his desire to make US foreign policy appear as unpredictable as possible. As Trump so succinctly summarized it himself during a foreign policy speech in April 2016: “We have to be unpredictable.”

Call it a “doctrine of unpredictability”, if you like. [..]

But foreign policy isn’t a poker room at a Trump casino. The only thing that a doctrine of unpredictability is really sure to do is gamble with national security – shattering alliances, destabilizing relationships with adversaries and suppressing public debate in the US.

Crafting a foreign policy of unpredictability, Trump believes, would give the US the upper hand in its dealings around the world. This strategy is premised on the notion that friends and enemies alike should not know what the US would do in any given situation. As Trump once put it: “I don’t want them to know what I’m thinking.”

This is a terrifying prospect for those around the world who rely on American leadership to underwrite global peace and prosperity.

GOP-dominated state legislatures are back in session — working hard to take away women’s rights

It’s February, the glorious time of year when state legislators start introducing all manner of bills in their various statehouses. Which also means that it’s our annual reminder of what male Republican voters really think of women and, as usual, the answer is nothing good. “Grab ’em by the pussy,” Donald Trump’s famous utterance into a hot mic on his way to an “Access Hollywood” taping, feels like it could almost be Republicans’ new motto, after looking over the offerings from their state legislators this year.

Every couple years or so, some Republican state legislator gets it in his head that the law needs to formalize his belief that a man’s having sex with a woman gives him property rights over her body. This year, it’s Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey, who introduced House Bill 1441, which would require any woman seeking an abortion to obtain the permission of the man who got her pregnant. [..]

So a woman loses the right to control her body if she has sex because that’s “irresponsible.” But a man who has sex does not have to forfeit control over his body but he’s rewarded by literally being awarded control over another person’s body. Got it.

Dean BakerL The Trouble With Trade: People Understand It

Ever since Donald Trump was elected there has been a huge backlash among elite-types against those blaming trade for their problems. Major news outlets have been filled with misleading and dishonest stories claiming that the real cause of manufacturing job loss has been automation and that people are stupid to worry about trade.

In fact, people are exactly right to be concerned about the impact of our trade policies on their living standards. It is the fact that people are right that is worrying our elites. Trade is just one of the areas in which politicians of both parties have promoted policies to redistribute income upward. It just happens to be the area in which the impact is most recognizable and therefore people have mounted an effective resistance.

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