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Sep 18 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: Complacency Could Kill Health Care

I haven’t yet read Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” but it seems pretty clear to me what did, in fact, happen in 2016.

These days, America starts from a baseline of extreme tribalism: 47 or 48 percent of the electorate will vote for any Republican, no matter how terrible, and against any Democrat, no matter how good. This means, in turn, that small things — journalists acting like mean kids in high school, ganging up on candidates they consider uncool, events that suggest fresh scandal even when there’s nothing there — can tip the balance in favor of even the worst candidate imaginable.

And, crucially, last year far too many people were complacent; they assumed that Trump couldn’t possibly become president, so they felt free to engage in trivial pursuits. Then they woke up to find that the inconceivable had happened.

Is something similar about to go down with health care?

Charles M. Blow: Is Trump a White Supremacist?

“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

That was only one in a string a tweets on Sept. 11 by ESPN host Jemele Hill in which Hill goes on to say that Trump is “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” that he hired and courted white supremacists, that “His rise is a direct result of white supremacy,” that “if he were not white, he never would have been elected.” Hill insinuates that the Republican Party “has done nothing but endorse/promote white supremacy.”

These tweets caused quite a stir. The White House perpetual lie-generator and press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that it was a fireable offense for ESPN. Sanders’s statement, of course, was not without its own controversy. [..]

“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”

This tweet, for me, changed the conversation. It moved the discussion from propriety and in-house rules of conduct by a brand, to a question of veracity. Was what Hill said untrue, as Trump’s tweet suggests, or is Trump in fact a white supremacist who has surrounded himself with white supremacists and whose party courted white supremacists?

Suzanne Moore: Don’t laugh at liars like Boris Johnson and Sean Spicer. Call them out

Liars lie. The more they get away with it, the more they do it. Trump lies as he breathes, bombarding us with untruth upon untruth until we stumble in disbelief. This is all part of what we call fake news, but fake news is enabled by two things: individuals who lie and an equivocating media culture that is cautious about calling certain people liars.

Thus we have Boris Johnson – a known liar, somehow still considered a possible prime minister – doing what exactly? “Misleading” us? Though the evidence is presented to show that his figure of £350m a week that will come back to us once we leave the EU is false, no one wants to quite say that his claims are a deliberate lie. That this sum would go to the NHS was the leavers’ magic promise, emblazoned on the side of a campaign bus. It was, we are required to say, not a downright lie but a distortion. David Norgrove, head of the UK Statistics Authority, said it was “a clear misuse of official statisitics”. So this figure is in dispute. Maybe we can call it “an inverted pyramid of piffle”, as Johnson once said when lying about a four-year affair that he denied. [..]

The hapless Sean Spicer, Trump’s former spokesman, who lied not just about the crowds at his boss’s inauguration, but about the Holocaust, turned up at the Emmys. Hilarious, right? At least he can laugh at himself! [..]

To watch the rehabilitation of these liars is galling, but it happens with media consent. It is a disgusting spectacle. If we stop demanding truth or even the semblance of it, we bypass any possibility of integrity in the name of entertainment. We shrug off the very notion that there can be anything other than fake news.

Richard Wolffe: America keeps the world on its toes. Blame the Trump Doctrine

After eight unflappable months of steadfast leadership, you may be surprised by the latest apparent reversals in the fundamental tenets of what we all call The Trump Doctrine.

The 45th President of the United States may have left you with the impression that he was going to build a beautiful wall across the entire southern border in such record time that it would make your head spin.

He may also have convinced you that he was going to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, especially all those nasty murderers and rapists, on the first day of his presidency in late January.

More recently, he and his attorney general made it crystal clear that hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, brought across the border as children, would face deportation in a matter of months.

There was something else he was definitely going to repeal and replace, but frankly we’re all so tired of winning that it’s hard to keep up.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Before tackling single-payer, save Obamacare

Before supporters of universal health coverage get all wrapped up debating a single-payer system, they need to focus on a dire threat to the Affordable Care Act likely to come up for a vote in the Senate before the end of the month.

The latest repeal bill is an offering from Republican Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) that would tear apart the existing system and replace it with block grants to the states. Block grants — flows of money for broad purposes with few strings attached — are a patented way to evade hard policy choices. All the tough decisions are kicked down to state capitals, usually with too little money to achieve the ends the block grant is supposed to realize.

Because Graham and Cassidy are civil interlocutors and have sounded more reasonable than many of their Republican colleagues in talking about health care, there is an unexamined assumption that their proposal must be more sensible than other approaches to repeal.

But it’s not. In fact, it would be disastrous. In certain respects, it’s even worse than earlier repeal measures, which at least kept some of the structure of Obamacare’s subsidies in place. This bill would simply blow them up.mined assumption that their proposal must be more sensible than other approaches to repeal.