Jun 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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Richard Eskow: Kitchen Logic: Don’t Let Trump’s GOP Privatize America

If you needed a new stove or refrigerator, you wouldn’t give the keys to your kitchen to Olive Garden, then pay them to let you eat. You’d be opening your wallet for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of logic Donald Trump and his party are using to give away our shared wealth.

Privatization – the transfer of government-owned resources to private interests – is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Governments use it to get an expense item off their books, but citizens often find themselves saddled with all sorts of additional costs for years to come. It’s mostly deficit hawks who oppose any kind of spending by government who praise this kind of move. [..]

Privatization plays a central role in the plans Trump unveiled during his “infrastructure week,” which more Americans may remember as “Comey testimony week.” Yet despite the phony signing ceremonies, Trump’s much-promised “trillion-dollar” infrastructure program is nowhere in sight: the plan actually includes only $200 billion in federal spending, while the balance would come, theoretically, from state coffers and other unspecified sources, including “corporations.”

An Article of Impeachment Based on Trump’s Obstruction of Justice Is Now Circulating in the House

Congress has sufficient grounds to hold President Trump to account for obstruction of justice. The proper means for holding him to account is an impeachment process, one that is informed by lessons from the Congress that sought to hold Richard Nixon to account after his Watergate-era wrongdoing was revealed. That’s not a radical construct. That’s a historical construct. And it is entirely relevant to the moment in which the United States finds itself today. Former director of national intelligence James Clapper told Australia’s National Press Club last week, “Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.” {..]

At least one member of the House was listening. Congressman Brad Sherman, a senior Democratic representative from California, on Monday notified House colleagues that he will “soon file [an] Article of Impeachment regarding President Donald J. Trump.” Sherman contacted Democratic and Republican members seeking support for that his accountability move. He explained: “As the investigations move forward, additional evidence supporting additional Articles of Impeachment may emerge. However, as to Obstruction of Justice and 18 USC § 1512 (b)(3), the evidence we have is sufficient to move forward now. And the national interest requires that we do so.”

Moustafa Bayoumi: Trump is scared Brits will be mean to him? Classic strongman fragility

Donald Trump is reportedly delaying an official state visit to London because the British people will be mean to him. According to an adviser to UK prime minister Theresa May, Trump recently told her in a phone call that he does not want to the visit Britain if large-scale protests would greet him there. Rather than being aghast at Trump’s cowardice, I find myself feeling envious of the British people.

For Trump not to be met with protests in Britain would be almost impossible. Back in February, more than half of British adults already said they expected Trump to be an awful or below-average president. His ludicrous attack on London mayor Sadiq Khan after the terrorist attack on London Bridge seemed to evince their sentiments. Trump’s behavior was a brazen illustration of his bad leadership, and a craven attempt to redirect global attention to himself. But if just the threat of popular protest is enough to stop Donald Trump, I would like to ask the British public to keep up their good work.

Alex Lawson and Jon “Bowzer” Bauman: The Senate’s Secret Assault On Older Americans

While cable news has been transfixed by James Comey and Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell has been busy. He is preparing to ram the disastrous health care repeal bill that House Republicans passed last month through the Senate and down the throats of the American people. McConnell isn’t holding hearings on the bill where Senate members get to debate openly and hear testimony from experts. Instead, Senate Republicans are writing the bill in secret. The public, the press, and their Democratic colleagues are all in the dark about the contents of a bill that would reshape one-sixth of the American economy. The only people they are bothering to get input from? The for-profit insurance industry.

The health care repeal bill, often known as “Trumpcare”, would be a disaster for tens of millions of Americans, and especially those over fifty. Trumpcare would allow health insurance corporations to charge older Americans up to five time as much for coverage. Particularly for those just below Medicare age, this would be catastrophic. Currently, a 64-year-old with total income of $26,500 pays an average of $1,700 a year for health insurance bought in an Affordable Care Act exchange. Under Trumpcare, she would pay $16,100 a year! That’s more than the average Social Security benefit.

Thomas S. Harrington: Total Surprise! People Love the Left’s Ideas for Progress

I just can’t believe what happened in the British elections.

I can’t get over the fact that that when a politician with real convictions honed over 40 years of political life—generous and forward-looking convictions rooted in an understanding of how social progress for the many has actually been engineered in previous times—speaks out unencumbered by fraidy-cat image doctors, people actually respond enthusiastically.

It’s shocking, absolutely shocking.

Why am I so confused?

Well, for thirty years, the brilliant people at the NYT, NPR, PBS, the BBC and The Guardian have told me again and again that candidates from Labor in the UK and the Democratic Party in the US must always be oh-so-careful careful to not veer too far left in their policy prescriptions, to not appear too “populist” and, most of all, to not to go “too far outside the mainstream”.

The question of who defines what is the mainstream, or how lavishly-funded pro-business and pro-war think-tanks might actually be the people establishing its functional parameters by funding armies of think-tank “scholars” and “experts” was, of course, a complex hermeneutical problem that I never had the time nor the energy to ponder or deconstruct.