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Jun 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 Voters Need Good Economic Policy, Not Empathy

There has been a strange debate among many liberals and progressives since the election as to whether they should have empathy for the people who voted for Donald Trump. After all, Trump is a pretty reprehensible character who has pledged to do some pretty awful things in the White House. Is there a reason that people should have empathy for the voters who put him there?

Whatever answer you pick to that question, there is another set of questions that should be simpler for progressives to answer. What are the right economic policies to be pursuing for the working class? This is a question of designing policies that may help people who voted for Trump, but will also help tens of millions of people, largely people of color, who did not vote for Trump. Progressive economic policy has to place the interests of ordinary workers, and those unable to work, at the top of the agenda.

John Nichols: It’s Time to Make the Case for Impeaching Trump

Donald Trump’s campaign boast that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters” may still hold true for the dead-enders who cling to the fantasy that he’s a competent commander in chief. But the Trump team doesn’t set the standard for presidential accountability. That was done back in 1787, when the initiators of the American experiment delineated the impeachment power that is suddenly all the rage.

Impeachment is not the only tool for checking and balancing errant presidents. Congress has the power of the purse, the duty to declare wars, and “advise and consent” oversight authority. Unfortunately, the separation-of-powers protections outlined in the Constitution have taken a beating on the long march from George Washington’s “prudent” administration to the imperial presidency that Trump inherited.

There’s al­ready a good case for obstruction of justice.

Mohamad Brazzi: Saudi Arabia stroked Trump’s ego. Now he is doing their bidding with Qatar

On Monday, Saudi Arabia and three of its allies cut off diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar, a tiny, energy-rich emirate in the Persian gulf. The Saudis moved to punish and isolate Qatar for its support of Islamist groups and its refusal to go along with a Saudi-led campaign against Iran. By Tuesday, Donald Trump took to Twitter – and he made the crisis between two US allies a lot worse.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump took credit for instigating Saudi Arabia and its allies to sever relations with Qatar and to impose a blockade, sealing the emirate’s only border and cutting off air and sea travel.[..]

Instead of offering to play peacemaker, as two of his top national security aides had done hours after the crisis erupted, Trump unequivocally sided with Saudi Arabia and its main ally, the United Arab Emirates.

Clearly, Saudi leaders are playing Trump, exploiting the grandiose reception they gave him last month after he decided to make the kingdom the first stop on his maiden foreign trip as president. By the end of his two-day visit, Trump had become Saudi Arabia’s cheerleader and he aligned US foreign policy with the kingdom’s vision of the Middle East.

Ross Barkan: Trump isn’t filling key vacancies in the criminal justice system. That’s good

When the Trump White House abruptly purged the nearly 50 US attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama era, Democrats everywhere cried foul. Months later, the move still rankles: on Tuesday, a New York Times editorial lamented that Donald Trump has yet to replace a single one, criticizing the “law and order candidate” for allowing “such a leadership vacuum” at prosecutors’ offices around the US.

Noting that US attorneys are responsible for prosecuting terrorism offenses, financial fraud, public corruption, drug trafficking and all other federal crimes, the Times declares that, for now, “local offices are being run by acting United States attorneys, often career lawyers or deputies held over from the Obama administration. They’re able to manage day-to-day operations, but don’t have the authority to push forward major policy changes.”

Michelle Chen: How the States Can Still Fight Climate Change — Without the Federal Government

Confronting the climate crisis shouldn’t be rocket science—to push society to decarbonize, just treat greenhouse gases the way governments treat liquor and cigarettes: Raise the price. With the climate-change movement at an impasse as the Paris climate treaty clashes with Trump’s anti-science agenda, the bottleneck around carbon policy today is more political than technological. And despite Trump’s rejection of the Paris Treaty, the global backlash shows that even the economics are coming around.

A new state-by-state analysis by the Carbon Tax Center (CTC) shows that carbon taxation, while often dismissed as a political nonstarter, could actually be a common-sense policy measure for local communities. A carbon tax could build on global momentum toward decarbonization while at the same time boosting public coffers, reducing inequality, and providing a democratic mechanism for a public reckoning with the true cost of pollution.