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Oct 03 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Rosanne Cash: Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A.

For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in “N.R.A. Country,” which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, if not economic, thrall of the N.R.A., with the pernicious tag line “Celebrate the Lifestyle.”

That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism.

A shadow government exists in the world of gun sales, and the people who write gun regulations are the very people who profit from gun sales. The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way.

The laws we have in place to prevent the procurement of military-style weapons by mentally ill citizens are laughable by the standards of any civilized society. But even those pathetic restrictions would be eased if the N.R.A. had its way. This week, a vote is going to the floor of the House of Representatives that would loosen restrictions on gun silencers and armor-piercing bullets. It’s not hard to learn about how millions of N.R.A. dollars have spread throughout Congress to influence that vote.

Richard Wolffe: Mourn the Las Vegas shooting, we’re told. But don’t ask why it happened

After the Las Vegas massacre, we’re told we cannot talk about politics. At times of public mourning, we must maintain some dignity that is otherwise entirely absent from our politics: we must pray, reflect on the nature of evil, but never debate what to do next.

Because what we’ll do next is mourn the next mass murder in the United States.

There is a strange exclusion zone around white gun violence by second amendment fanatics. Mass murder by Muslims (or foreigners who may have come from majority Muslim countries) is not subject to the same kind of hushed grieving. Gang warfare in Chicago receives no such respect.

And to be clear, a white liberal gunman – as Stephen Paddock was initially rumored to be, at least by some on the far right – would prompt no outpourings of concern about human nature and the need for national unity.

At this time, we must suspend our sense of moral outrage, our deep concern for public safety, and frankly our incredulity when we hear this White House respond to a gun rampage that left hundreds wounded and at least 59 dead.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Congress’s war powers must be made a reality

What does it take to get Congress to act on vital questions of war and peace? The catastrophe in Yemen may test whether Congress is finally prepared to exercise its constitutional responsibility. Four legislators — two House Democrats and two Republicans — have introduced a resolution under the War Powers Act demanding a vote in 15 days to end U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s devastation of Yemen.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Democrats Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan (the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus) and by Republicans Thomas Massie and Walter Jones, requires the “removal” of U.S. forces from the war in Yemen unless Congress votes to authorize American involvement. Beginning under President Barack Obama, the U.S. military has assisted the Saudi campaign in Yemen, providing tankers for aerial refueling and targeting intelligence against the Houthi rebels said to be backed by Iran. U.S. support was reportedly part of a deal to get Saudi Arabia to be more supportive of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. [..]

The resolution will force Congress to debate this truly deplorable policy that has implicated the United States in Saudi war crimes while fueling the spread of terrorism. The establishment default about the endless wars without victory or sense in the Middle East must end. Indeed, the bipartisan nature of the co-sponsor list for the resolution indicates interest on both sides of the aisle in revitalizing Congress as an effective constitutional check on a long-out-of-control executive branch. Khanna is hopeful that the debate on our support of the Saudi coalition in Yemen will serve as a belated but necessary first step, demonstrating growing bipartisan concern about continued foreign intervention.

Catherine Rampell: The report Trump officials don’t want you to see

Psst. Hey, you. Wanna read something dangerous?

It’s a government document so incendiary that the feds have tried to suppress it. They’ve purged it from their websites and disavowed its claims.

But it’s not about Roswell, or who killed JFK. It’s not even about climate change.

It’s something far juicier: a 34-page technical paper about corporate income taxes.

And it’s a document that matters if you’re trying to game out whether (and how much) enormous corporate tax cuts will trickle down to workers. [..]

Figuring out who actually bears the burden of taxes, and who therefore benefits from corporate tax cuts, is thorny. We have limited data available, after all, and no true controlled experiments for changes in federal tax policy. But the answers these Treasury staffers produced are not so far from those of most other major nonpartisan tax crunchers, including the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Tax Policy Center.

The Treasury paper was subsequently published in an elite academic journal. Outside of tax wonk circles, the numbers were generally ignored.

Until now.

Robert J. Spitzer: America Used to Be Good at Gun Control. What Happened?

IN the immediate aftermath of one of the worst mass shootings in American history, I sought information about what happened by googling “fully automatic weapons” and “Las Vegas.” Audio recordings from the scene had picked up the utterly distinctive sound of fully automatic gunfire. (It appears the gun was a modified semiautomatic weapon.) But instead of turning up details of the massacre, the top search results yielded multiple advertisements for sites like “Battlefield Vegas” (“Book Now!”) and M.G.V. (“Machine Guns Vegas”), where customers can purchase firing-range time with fully automatic “exclusive Las Vegas gun range packages,” according to the second website.

But what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, and sometimes the line between fantasy violence and the real thing disappears. [..]

Prohibition and later the Great Depression fueled the rise of gangsterism that spread unregulated but powerful weapons developed for warfare, including the Tommy gun (“the gun that made the twenties roar”) and the Browning automatic rifle. By the start of the 1930s, more than half of the states had sharply regulated or barred such fully automatic weapons. In the summer of 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a measure to bring these and other gangster weapons and equipment, like sawed-off shotguns and silencers, under federal control. The new law required an extensive and intensive background check, fingerprinting, registration with a national database and payment of a $200 fee.

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