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Mar 16 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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Ross Barkan: If Trump were a clever populist, he’d demand universal healthcare for America

Donald Trump understood the average Republican voter well enough to disregard the party’s tired orthodoxies and still win the presidency. He figured out that most Republicans could care less about shredding entitlements and adhering blindly to Milton Friedman’s soulless economic agenda, as long as he was bashing immigrants. To this day, Trump still won’t fulfill Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian fever dream of gutting Social Security and Medicare.

But he does promise to do Ryan’s bidding and repeal Obamacare, a move that is all but guaranteed, if successful, to make a lot more people who voted for him sick. This probably doesn’t worry Trump too much in the short term, since senior citizens in the West Virginian hollows and dead factory towns of Ohio can’t afford dues at Mar-a-Lago anyway. Republicans in Congress, unused to and uninterested in governing, want to tear up Barack Obama’s signature achievement as quickly as possible because that will fill the emptiness of a nihilist campaign vow.

Austin Sarat: Loose talk came back to haunt Trump in judge’s travel ban ruling

For months, critics of the president have been told that they should take Trump’s words seriously, but not literally.

On Wednesday night federal district judge Derrick K Watson refused to take the bait. He insisted that Trump’s words on “banning Muslims” should be taken seriously and literally.

Judge Watson made headlines when he granted a temporary restraining order halting Trump’s latest effort to ban entry of people from six predominantly Muslim nations into the United States.

The judge found that the executive order violates the constitution’s establishment clause and discriminates against a religious group.

His decision galvanized attention because it set up a new clash between Trump and the judiciary, a clash that the president eagerly took up when he told a large and supportive audience in Nashville, Tennessee, that the judge’s order striking down what he called a “watered down version of the first order” was “an unprecedented judicial overreach”.

Yet as important as substance of the judge’s decision, and the clash that it foretells, is, what may be even more important is the lesson that it offers about the enduring power of language.

Richard Wolffe: Trump tax leak is one small step for the truth – now let’s see the rest

Praise the lord. We now know about Donald Trump’s finances from more than a decade ago. This is what passes for progress in the era of a president who promised to be the most ethical, most popular and most successful commander-in-chief ever.

Then again, he also promised to forego his presidential salary, protect everyone’s healthcare and forego all new business deals. He may as well have promised to put a unicorn in every pot.

The last year we could peek into the president’s personal taxes was 1995. That was the same year that Wonderwall was top of the charts and Seinfeld was top of the TV ratings. By 2005, the year that features in this latest tax return to emerge, Hollaback Girl ruled alongside American Idol. On that basis, I think we can all agree that the decade did not advance civilisation in any great measure.

For Trump, the intervening years amounted to one long deduction of the most spurious mixing of personal and business interests in presidential tax history. The New York Times revealed that Trump claimed a monstrous $916m loss in 1995 and he continued to convert that loss into a tax credit all the way through the next decade.

Charles M. Blow: Disciples of a False Prophet

The con Donald Trump committed on his voters is slowly coming undone. He is not honest. He is not a brilliant deal maker. He is not even competent.

His entire life, Trump has sold shimmer and called it silver. It was and is all an illusion, a brand built on selling banality with braggadocio. He shaped vapors into dreams and delivered them to those hungry for a taste of the showy, hollow form of the high life he came to represent. He was successful at exploiting those with an ostentatious appetite for the air of success. Trump’s life story is a pyramid scheme of ambitions.

He took that history to a people struggling through a drought of opportunity and he exploited their weaknesses: a shrinking sense of economic security and growing nativist tendencies.

But Trump doesn’t speak so much from facts as from feelings. For him, the truth is malleable and a lie is valuable. He creates his own reality rather than living in the reality of others. Deception is just a tool; betrayal is just an inconvenience.

Nancy Altman: Trumpcare Raids Medicare To Enrich The Wealthy And Plant A Bomb

rumpcare is Robin Hood in reverse. It robs from the elderly, people with disabilities, and poor children to give massive tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires.

Trumpcare slashes health-care spending by a whopping $1.2 trillion and tax revenues by an also whopping $883 billion. It robs 24 million Americans of their health insurance in order to give supersized tax breaks to the wealthiest among us. The nation’s top 400 earners have average annual incomes of $300 million. Trumpcare makes these 400 plutocrats richer, by lavishing on them average tax cuts of $7 million.

And those $7 million tax giveaways are just down payments. Trumpcare holds back $337 billion in spending cuts that can be used to offset more tax cuts for the ultra-rich, when tax “reform” is taken up later in the year.

With that formula — huge reductions in spending on Americans’ health in exchange for enormous tax cuts for the wealthy — it is not surprising that 24 million Americans will lose their health insurance, and with it, lifesaving health care. The media has focused some attention on those 24 million. It has also shined some light on Trumpcare’s devastation of Medicaid, which includes cutting Medicaid funding by $880 billion along the way to ending it as we know it.

Trumpcare plants the bomb, where it will remain unt