“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.
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Katrina vanden Heuvel: How Democrats can win back the working class
Of all the promises Donald Trump made as a candidate, perhaps none was more important than his pledge to the working-class voters who flocked to his campaign. “Under a Trump presidency,” he said, “the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.”
But since his election, Trump has made a mockery of that promise. He put Goldman Sachs bankers in charge of the economy. He blocked a plan to reduce mortgage premiums for millions of families. He issued a budget blueprint that slashes funding for vital social programs. And he put his weight behind an Affordable Care Act “replacement” bill that guts health coverage for working people while providing tax cuts for the wealthy and health insurance executives.
In response, Democrats, riding a wave of grass-roots energy fueling the progressive resistance to Trump nationwide, have adopted a strategy of fierce opposition to the president’s agenda. A tireless commitment to fighting Trump’s disastrous policies and support for the activists marching in the streets are important. But there is also a natural danger of falling into the default mode of opposing Trump, and merely defending existing policies, without offering the serious solutions that people so desperately need. Rebuilding the party requires Democrats to speak boldly about what they are for and not just what they are against. Otherwise, they risk replicating the failed campaign strategy of 2016, when the Clinton campaign hammered away at Trump without appealing to working Americans with a clear and bold alternative vision of its own.
Paul Ryan is promoting Trumpcare as if it were some sort of medical Magna Carta – a brave declaration of healthcare freedom. “We’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do. You get it [healthcare] if you want it. That’s freedom” he recently said on Face the Nation. Freedom to die uninsured, that is.
It’s not that House Republicans are proposing some libertarian healthcare promised land wherein open heart surgeries and rounds of chemo are bartered and traded like tubes of toothpaste – far from it. Instead, the bill largely relies on Obamacare’s blueprint, although it mangles its details for the benefit of the rich while stripping coverage from a staggering 24 million people by 2026 (according to Monday’s estimates from the Congressional Budget Office). [..]
This more egalitarian vision of healthcare freedom may sound utopian, but it is entirely achievable: it emerges when societies create social rights to healthcare through the development of universal healthcare systems.
The conservative vision of healthcare freedom offered by Ryan and company, in contrast, is not a form of freedom at all: indeed, by serving the class interests of the rich at the expense of the welfare – and the very lives – of the poor and the sick, it is better seen as a form of oppression.
Michael Winship: Where Free Speech Ends, Ignorance Begins
At the risk of sounding like a geezer complaining about “these kids today,” back in my college days, when it came to points of view we were unhesitatingly exposed to literature, teachers and on-campus speakers covering the ideological waterfront.
In one instance, the student body was addressed by civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory, radical Irish activist Bernadette Devlin and the conservative writer and critic Russell Kirk — all in the course of a week or so.
Such variety was a common occurrence, and freewheeling, open discussion was encouraged. We didn’t always like or agree with a lot of what we heard or read — from time to time there were vehement protests — but all of it was invaluable. None of us were harmed in the making of our education.
Jesselyn Radack: Is the Vault 7 Source a Whistleblower?
It is the leakiest of times in the Executive Branch. Last week, Wikileaks published a massive and, by all accounts genuine, trove of documents revealing that the CIA has been stockpiling, and lost control of, hacking tools it uses against targets. Particularly noteworthy were the revelations that the CIA developed a tool to hack Samsung TVs and turn them into recording devices and that the CIA worked to infiltrate both Apple and Google smart phone operating systems since it could not break encryption. No one in government has challenged the authenticity of the documents disclosed. [..]
The FBI has already begun hunting down the source as part of a criminal leak investigation. Historically, the criminal justice system has been a particularly inept judge of who is a whistleblower. Moreover, it has allowed the use of the pernicious Espionage Act—an arcane law meant to go after spies—to go after whistleblowers who reveal information the public interest. My client, former NSA senior official Thomas Drake, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, only to later be widely recognized as a whistleblower. There is no public interest defense to Espionage Act charges, and courts have ruled that a whistleblower’s motive, however salutary, is irrelevant to determining guilt.
Last week Republicans in Congress unveiled their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. The proposed replacement is less a health care bill than, as Esquire’s Charles Pierce noted, a measure “designed to give a massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans” and “not concerned with providing affordable health insurance to the most people.”
The bill, formally titled the American Health Care Act but widely nicknamed Trumpcare, is also fiercely anti-woman. As I reported last week, the bill attacks women’s access to reproductive health care from every angle, undermining not just contraception access and abortion coverage but also making it much harder for women to receive maternity coverage when they do give birth.
Well, now the Congressional Budget Office has released a report affirming what policy analysts and reproductive rights advocates feared: This bill will lead to a rise in unintended births.