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Aug 09 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 Wolffe: God save us from Donald Trump’s fire and fury

Both had the power to kill large numbers of people, if not blow up the world several times over. Both suffered from delusions of power around the presidency. Both believed the old rules didn’t apply to them. Both believed they could reshape the world by brute force, if only the bureaucrats, diplomats and lawyers would get out their way. And both truly loved their own performance on camera.

Donald Rumsfeld and Donald Trump are separated by 14 years in age, and a world of experience. Rumsfeld had served as Illinois congressman, White House chief of staff and US defense secretary before he catastrophically ran the Pentagon through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trump previously ran a small family business that sank into bankruptcy several times, before he made cameo appearances on a successful reality TV show.

Rumsfeld came to power with a fully fledged ideology of how to exercise power inside Washington and around the world. Trump came to power with a fully fledged plan for self-promotion, no idea how Washington worked and little interest in the rest of the world.

But in their belligerent bravado, in their elderly disdain for the lives of the young soldiers and civilians under their command and care, the two have much in common.

Richard North Patterson: The Ugliest American

Already, President Trump’s international impact is historic — indeed, unprecedented. Around the globe, particularly among our European allies, Trump is viewed as impetuous, intolerant, unqualified, and dangerous. A massive Pew study of 37 countries reveals that, remarkably, their citizens distrust America’s president more than Vladimir Putin. Trump is tarnishing America — a mere five months of Trump led to a 15 percent decline in those with a positive view of the United States.

America and the world badly need a capable and respected president. Democracies, autocracies, and stateless terrorists compete to shape our common future. That challenge requires an America which, by words and example, promotes democracy, humanitarianism, and global cooperation over intolerance, authoritarianism, and nativism. Whether the threat be nuclear, economic, or environmental, the United States cannot escape through withdrawal, or dominate through disdain.

Jessica Valenti: Pregnancy can kill. No one should be forced to give birth against their will

Marqwetta Johnson, a 42-year-old mother of seven, died in Oklahoma due to complications from ectopic pregnancy. Krystine Toledo-Gonzalez, a nurse in Georgia, passed away from a staph infection brought on by childbirth. Amy Bartlett, a spokeswoman for Yellowstone national park, died after giving birth to her third child from a heart condition brought on by pregnancy.

These women aren’t statistics or sad stories – they were people with lives and families and dreams. People who were loved and who are missed. These women’s names have been running through my mind for some time, since ProPublica published its incredible investigative project on maternal mortality in the United States.

But as Democratic leaders continue on their ill-advised abandonment of reproductive rights as a core issue for the party, these women’s faces and stories do more than just come to me occasionally. I cannot stop thinking about them, and about how easily those in positions of power forget.

Robert Reich: Night Thoughts On Trump And America

With Donald Trump away vacationing at one of his golf resorts, the rest of us may have a chance to relax. But in truth it’s more like a short break in a continuing nightmare. Just enough time to turn on the light, look at the clock and ponder where we are, before the nightmare envelopes us again.

What can we ponder that will make all of this a bit less frightening? For one thing, it could be far worse. Trump could have fulfilled his campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, lock Hillary up, build a wall, and throw out all immigrants without papers.

By now he might have confused so many Americans about the truth that most of us would believe the words coming out of his mouth. Hell, by now he could have incited another civil war.

Actually very little has happened. He’s huffed and puffed, threatened and fumed, yet almost none of it has found its way into concrete laws. And it may not: The typical “honeymoon” enjoyed by new presidents is over for him. His first hundred days came and left, almost without a trace.

Paul Mason: Trump could be out of office within a year – but the US’s problems would be just beginning

Before Christmas, it is likely the US ultra-right elite will be faced with a choice: stick with Trump, corralled behind a wall of former generals and hamstrung by a potential impeachment. Or switch to the plan as it was in early 2016 – a socially conservative, libertarian presidency headed by Pence.

As we watch it unfold from Britain, one parallel with our own situation becomes obvious. In both countries, an elite group has forced a proactive break with globalisation: “America first” and Brexit are both attempts to save national free-market projects at the expense of ditching multilateral systems and rules.

But once the external constraint is ditched, the modern right has this unresolved dilemma: the levels of economic freedom it wants always produce levels of discontent that require political freedom to be curtailed. The Brexit-boosting types here and the Steve Bannon types in the US share a fantasy about the kind of market-driven society they want to live in, but can see no way to achieve it other than through a period of chaos.

What they created, between June and November 2016, was two unstable democracies – unstable not because their institutions are weak but because their elites are divided and political liberalism directionless. Neither impeaching Trump nor putting Brexit on the backburner solves this fundamental problem.