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Jun 08 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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Robert Reich: The Reality Winner Leak Is Not The Problem

The arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old federal contractor from Atlanta, Georgia, for leaking a National Security Agency report describing in far more detail than previously known Russian efforts to intrude in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, comes in the midst of a deluge of Trump tweets and leaks.

Among the most sensitive leaks about national security since the start of the Trump administration was Trump’s own Oval Office conversation with top Russian officials last month, in which he revealed allied intelligence information apparently coming from Israel. At that same meeting, Trump discussed his firing of former FBI Director James Comey the previous day, thereby relieving “great pressure” on him, he said.

How do we even know about these discussions between Trump and Russian officials? They were leaked! So we had a leak about a leak, coupled with a leak about a potential cover-up by the president of his attempt to obstruct justice.

The essential message of the Justice Department’s decision to go after Reality Winner is that those who leak will be targeted for prosecution if the information they give journalists is about Russia helping Trump win the election.

But let’s be clear. This particular leak of an NSA report is not the central problem.

Charles M. Blow: James Comey Cometh

It is hard to calculate the grievousness of the wounds that James Comey’s testimony will inflict on Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, representatives of Comey, the consummate showman whose own flair for the dramatic rivals Trump’s, requested the release of his incredibly detailed opening statement in advance of his Thursday Senate testimony.

If you believe the Comey statement, you must take away from it that Trump is a liar, a bully and a criminal. You must take away from it that Trump has a consuming need to be surrounded not only by loyalists but also by lackeys. You must take away that Trump is brand obsessed — his own brand — and that anything that besmirches that brand must be blunted. You must take away that Trump knows nothing of decorum and propriety and boundaries. You must take away that this is the most comprehensive and compelling case thus far that Trump did indeed engage in obstruction of justice.

Trump’s comments as alleged in the Comey statement make Trump sound more like a mob boss than the president of a democracy.

Richard North Patterson: Too Many For-Profit Colleges Defraud Students And Taxpayers Alike

rump University, it transpires, is more than a heartless joke. It is the canary in a multibillion-dollar coal mine of greed and deceit.

Obviously, not all for-profit colleges shortchange students. But far too many do. The result? According to a 2016 research project by economists from the Treasury Department and George Washington University, most students at for-profit colleges would have fared better had they attended a community college — or skipped college altogether.

The causes? Start with near-worthless degrees. Another study in 2011-12 found that most graduates of for-profit colleges earn no more than graduates from high school and that, compared with students at nonprofit institutions, earn less and are more likely to be unemployed. Yet another study showed that these disparities are lasting.

Then there’s misdirected spending. Half of for-profit tuition is spent on nonacademic matters like marketing and recruiting, instead of improving curriculum or instruction. In particular, compared to faculty at nonprofit schools, teachers at for-profits are ill-paid, frequently part-time and, on the whole, less qualified.

Yet surveys show that tuition at for-profit schools is consistently higher than at their public or even private nonprofit counterparts. No surprise — lacking other sources of money, they charge more tuition so that investors can profit.

Leo W. Gerard: Trump Offers Fool’s Gold To Fund Infrastructure

Donald Trump surrounds himself in gold. The signs on Trump buildings shimmer in it. His penthouse in New York is gilded in it.

He claims now to have found the alchemy to conjure $1 trillion in infrastructure gold. He plans to put up a mere $200 billion in federal funds and stir it together with $800 billion in private investment and state dollars.

That is fool’s gold. A falsely-funded infrastructure program is a massive broken promise. America needs real improvements to roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, water systems and railways. That requires a commitment of real tax dollars, not the relinquishment of America’s public assets to profit-seeking private Wall Street entities. Americans should not be charged twice for maintenance of the public good, once through tax breaks to investors and again in outrageous tolls and fees the investors charge.