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Aug 11 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: The Axis of Climate Evil

“It’s Not Your Imagination: Summers Are Getting Hotter.” So read a recent headline in The Times, highlighting a decade-by-decade statistical analysis by climate expert James Hansen. “Most summers,” the analysis concluded, “are now either hot or extremely hot compared with the mid-20th century.”

So what else is new? At this point the evidence for human-caused global warming just keeps getting more overwhelming, and the plausible scenarios for the future — extreme weather events, rising sea levels, drought, and more — just keep getting scarier.

In a rational world urgent action to limit climate change would be the overwhelming policy priority for governments everywhere.

But the U.S. government is, of course, now controlled by a party within which climate denial — rejecting not just scientific evidence but also obvious lived experience, and fiercely opposing any effort to slow the trend — has become a defining marker of tribal identity.

Catherine Rampell: The left isn’t paying enough attention to these anti-poverty policies

Extracting more money from evil, exploitative capitalists has become a rallying cry for much of the grass-roots left. In the meantime, though, it’s largely ignoring other important policies for lifting Americans out of poverty.

In a recent column, I urged progressives to more seriously grapple with the cumulative effects of policies that make workers more expensive to hire. More than doubling the federal minimum wage to $15, for example, would risk pricing a lot of people out of work. Especially in low-cost-of-living areas such as Mississippi, where half of all jobs pay less than $14.22.

In other words, well-intended, feel-good policies can sometimes backfire, hurting the people you’re trying to help.

Eugene Robinson: Someone needs to distract Trump with a shiny object

This is what we dreaded. Some international crisis was bound to flare up, and President Trump would make it worse. Now we can only hope that the mature adults surrounding him are able to cool things down.

Trump probably thought it was oh-so-clever to answer North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear provocations with a taste of the dictator’s own apocalyptic language, threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” It sounded like a playground taunt, reflecting the president’s emotional immaturity. On Thursday, Trump said that maybe those words weren’t “tough enough.” Soon these two nuclear-armed leaders may be trading insults about the size of each other’s hands.

The “fire and fury” line was “improvised,” meaning Trump failed to warn anyone about it beforehand — not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, not Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, not Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, not national security adviser H.R. McMaster, not U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Wish these five officials well, because they stand between us and unthinkable disaster.

Michael Bloomberg: Trump won’t stop Americans hitting the Paris climate targets. Here’s how we do it

The global effort to confront climate change was hobbled for many years by the mistaken idea that only national governments and international rules could solve the problem. The Paris agreement, which recognizes and supports voluntary carbon-reduction efforts by cities, regions and businesses, was an important step in the right direction. Ironically, no one has done more to demonstrate the agreement’s strengths than its most prominent critic: Donald Trump.

Last week, the Trump administration formally notified the UN of its intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement. It was an empty gesture, because no party can actually withdraw until November 2020 (right after the next US presidential election). What matters is this: the US is on pace to reach the commitment we made under the agreement – and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us.

Over the past decade, the US has led the world in reducing carbon emissions. In that time, the US Congress has never passed a single law directly aimed at climate change.

Amanda Marcotte: It’s time to fight the alt-right — but not by actually fighting in the street

This weekend, various far right groups are converging on Charlottesville, Virginia for a “Unite the Right” rally that may create the biggest test since last spring for progressives who want to resist the Donald Trump-empowered surge in white supremacy. Organizers anticipate a big crowd, perhaps in the thousands, which triggered legal action after Charlottesville officials tried to relocate the rally from its original location around a statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park to a location local law enforcement said could hold more people.

To be clear, neo-Nazis and the like tend to be disorganized and unreliable, so there are decent odds Unite the Right will be poorly attended, and the resulting atmosphere will be one of comical pathos rather than the menace far-right forces are hoping for. Unfortunately, as Bob Moser at the New Republic argued, there is one group that can help restore some lost dignity to the wannabe fascists: Progressive counter-protesters. Yes, the very people eager to fight white supremacists in the street may, as Moser argues, be helping the cause of white supremacy.