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Aug 15 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: When the President Is Un-American

Remember back in 2008, when Sarah Palin used to talk about the “real America”? She meant rural and small-town residents — white residents, it went without saying — who supposedly embodied the nation’s true essence.

She was harshly condemned for those remarks, and rightly so — and not just because the real, real America is a multiracial, multicultural land of great metropolitan areas as well as small towns. More fundamentally, what makes America America is that it is built around an idea: the idea that all men are created equal, and are entitled to basic human rights. Take away that idea and we’re just a giant version of a two-bit autocracy.

And maybe that is what we have, in fact, become. For Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the murderous white supremacists in Charlottesville finally confirms what has become increasingly obvious: The current president of the United States isn’t a real American.

Real Americans understand that our nation is built around values, not the “blood and soil” of the marchers’ chants; what makes you an American is your attempt to live up to those values, not the place or race your ancestors came from. And when we fall short in our effort to live up to our ideals, as we all too often do, at least we realize and acknowledge our failure.

Dahlia Lithwick: They Will Not Replace Us

When the red dust of Virginia settles, after this horrifying weekend in my hometown of Charlottesville, one thing will be clear: The white nationalists and Nazis who marched through town this Friday and Saturday perfectly reflected the President Trump they so admire. Their slogan—”You will not replace us”—is, in Trumpian fashion, a pledge to restore vanishing privilege and power. It’s also a bald-faced lie, a fake promise and a short con. Not one single word of it is true. [..]

Our lawyer once told us, when we purchased our home in Charlottesville, that the house to this day carries a racially restrictive covenant. No blacks, no Jews. That covenant is illegal and unenforceable. And so I have a house in Charlottesville that could once have been taken from me by the force of law. But for sad white men who think they can ride into my town and insist that I will not replace them (sometimes “You will not replace us” became “Jews will not replace us” in their chanting), I have a message: You’ve been replaced. You have been replaced because over two centuries American courts have renounced and rejected the argument that housing, education, marriage, and other markers of status and belonging can be used by whites and males to diminish the power of “others” to gain purchase on American life.

William Rivers Pitt: Coward-in-Chief: Trump Wilts in the Face of Fascist Terrorism

Here is the car, stopped along Monticello Avenue in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has clearly been involved in a high-speed incident. Video shows this same car — allegedly driven by one James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio — plowing into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist protesters at high speed. When it reversed to escape, the damaged fender swung wide, and a shoe clearly bounced out of the grille. The roar of the engine fades, leaving in its wake screams and curses.

According to everything we have heard from the federal government about vehicles being used as weapons worldwide, everything we have heard from the White House and Homeland Security on the issue, everything we have heard in the news media after London and Paris, this was an ISIS-style terrorist attack deliberately perpetrated against a crowd of innocent people to lethal effect.

This was terrorism. By the book. Someone should probably tell the president. He doesn’t seem to get it.

Robert Kuttner: U.S. vs North Korea: The Winner? China

I keep thinking of the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. This terrifying episode was a very complicated game of diplomatic maneuvering and military posturing, with a thermonuclear exchange between the US and the USSR as the consequence of a misstep.

But that apocalyptic situation had one big advantage over the present one: John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro were all sane, rational beings. The same cannot be said about the two protagonists to the Korea crisis, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. In Kim, Trump has met his match.

The U.S. may have the arsenal to deliver on Trump’s threat to deliver fire and fury to North Korea, but Kim has a hostage in millions South Koreans who would be killed before Kim’s weaponry would be neutralized. Even Trump must have some sense of this constraint.

In this game of mutual escalation and bravado, the sane party (God help us) is Chinese President Xi Jinping. The North Korean economy is heavily dependent on China, but so far China has shown no inclination to use its economic leverage to demand that Kim stand down.

Bernie Sanders: Most Americans want universal healthcare. What are we waiting for?

As Americans, we need to answer some fundamental questions regarding the future of our healthcare system.

First, do we consider healthcare to be a right of all people, or a commodity made available based on income and wealth? Today, people in the highest-income counties in America live, on average, 20 years longer than people residing in the poorest counties. There are a number of reasons for that disgraceful reality, but one of them has to do with grossly unequal access to quality healthcare.

If you are upper-income and have good insurance, you go to the doctor on a regular basis, and life-threatening illnesses can be detected at an early stage when they can be effectively treated. If you are a working-class person without health insurance, or with high deductibles that keep you out of a doctor’s office when you’re sick, your chances of survival from a serious illness are significantly reduced.