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Jun 19 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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Paul Krugman: Zombies, Vampires and Republicans

Zombies have long ruled the Republican Party. The good news is that they may finally be losing their grip — although they may still return and resume eating conservative brains. The bad news is that even if zombies are in retreat, vampires are taking their place.

What are these zombies of which I speak? Among wonks, the term refers to policy ideas that should have been abandoned long ago in the face of evidence and experience, but just keep shambling along.

The right’s zombie-in-chief is the insistence that low taxes on the rich are the key to prosperity. This doctrine should have died when Bill Clinton’s tax hike failed to cause the predicted recession and was followed instead by an economic boom. It should have died again when George W. Bush’s tax cuts were followed by lackluster growth, then a crash. And it should have died yet again in the aftermath of the 2013 Obama tax hike — partly expiration of some Bush tax cuts, partly new taxes to pay for Obamacare — when the economy continued jogging along, adding 200,000 jobs a month.

Despite the consistent wrongness of their predictions, however, tax-cut fanatics just kept gaining influence in the G.O.P. — until the disaster in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback promised that deep tax cuts would yield an economic miracle. What the state got instead was weak growth and a fiscal crisis, finally pushing even Republicans to vote for tax hikes, overruling Brownback’s veto.

Russ Feingold: America risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn’t stoppedAmerica risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn’t stopped

As we are all experiencing, every day there’s some new shock from the Trump-Pence administration. Much of it is disgraceful. Yet we cannot let the tragedy of Donald Trump’s presidency distract us from the broader fight to restore and protect the legitimacy of our democracy.

That legitimacy comes from the voters, and their influence is being systematically devalued by gerrymandering. A bedrock of our democratic legitimacy could rise or fall with the US supreme court’s decision as to whether to hear a case and finally rule on the constitutionality of hyper-partisan gerrymandering.

The court recently reaffirmed the illegality of racial gerrymandering in the case of North Carolina. But to protect fully our democratic legitimacy, the court must go further and prohibit gerrymandering done to cement one-party rule.

Over the past several years, a ground war has been conducted against our democratic legitimacy at the state level by state political parties intent on minimizing the power of certain voters. Their goal: near permanent one-party rule.

This practice of hyper-partisan gerrymandering is destroying our democracy by reverse-engineering the election process. Rather than voters choosing their representatives, representatives choose their voters.

Charles M. Blow: Trump Is Girding for a Fight

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his widening investigation seems to be closing in on Donald Trump and his coterie of corruption, but Trump and his emissaries aren’t sitting idly by. They’re girding for a fight.

Last week The Washington Post, citing unnamed officials, reported that Mueller was widening his investigation to include “an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.”

This set Trump off. As the sun rose on Thursday morning, he posted the first of what would be a daylong barrage of statements on Twitter, attacking the “phony story”; later he lamented “crooked H” and “Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia.”

But that wasn’t enough.

He started up again Friday morning, this time posting: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”Special counsel Robert Mueller and his widening investigation seems to be closing in on Donald Trump and his coterie of corruption, but Trump and his emissaries aren’t sitting idly by. They’re girding for a fight.

Last week The Washington Post, citing unnamed officials, reported that Mueller was widening his investigation to include “an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.”

This set Trump off. As the sun rose on Thursday morning, he posted the first of what would be a daylong barrage of statements on Twitter, attacking the “phony story”; later he lamented “crooked H” and “Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia.”

But that wasn’t enough.

He started up again Friday morning, this time posting: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”

Rebacca Solnit: Victories against Trump are mounting. Here’s how we deal the final blow Victories against Trump are mounting. Here’s how we deal the final blow

In this moment, populist intervention is everything, not as hate and attack but as an expression of popular will and power. Or as love, since we defend what we love. It is an extraordinary moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists. It is saturated with possibility, as well as with danger.

Of course there are also people residing in the US who love the dismantling of healthcare, education, environmental protection and the bill of rights, but they are an increasingly small minority. The most recent Gallup poll found nearly twice as many people – 60% disapprove of the president – than approve (36%). [..]

People who don’t like democracy and civil rights don’t think what the public thinks matters; that includes the Trump administration, which seems to have thought that power would be inherent in the presidency, rather than dependent on honoring relationships with institutions, allies, with rules and laws. What the public thinks matters, if we turn thoughts into actions.

Daniel José Camacho : Why did this powerful church group struggle to denounce white supremacy?

Condemning white supremacy and the alt-right movement shouldn’t be hard. But the Southern Baptist Convention – the nation’s largest Protestant denomination– had its doubts about whether to do so this week.

During the annual meeting, they initially declined to pass a resolution doing just that. Chaos ensued at the denomination’s annual meeting and a firestorm of criticism quickly followed. Delegates eventually passed a modified version of the resolution – originally drafted by one of its black pastors – but the damage had been done.

It would be a mistake to interpret this fiasco simply as a misstep. The Southern Baptist Convention’s reluctance to condemn racism is not only true to its history but it reflects how white supremacy is built into the very DNA of American Christianity.

Some are shocked by the strong Christian support that Donald Trump has received. The brown refugee portrayed in the Gospels, who preached against the evils of hoarding wealth, is a far cry from the agenda of the megalomaniac executive foreshadowed in The Art of the Deal.

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