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Nov 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”.

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Paul Krugman: Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the Con Man Caucus

It really is amazing to watch this chaotic horror show play out at the highest levels of a great nation’s government. But I guess this is what you have to expect when you hand over the reins of power to a con man, whose whole career has been based on convincing naïve marks that he’s a brilliant deal maker, but turns out to have no idea how to actually govern.

Oh, wait — did you think I was talking about Donald Trump? I’m talking about Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, an obvious phony who nonetheless convinced the rubes — that is, much of the news media and the political establishment — that he was a brilliant fiscal expert. What we’re witnessing now is the end of the charade, the political equivalent of what happened when graduates of Trump University tried to get some value in return for their money.

On Thursday, House Republicans unveiled a tax “reform” bill with the same good order and careful deliberation with which they unveiled their various attempts to repeal Obamacare. That is, after having had years to prepare, the G.O.P. waited until the last minute to throw something together, without any hearings or serious analysis.

Eugene Robinson: President Trump is the master of abhorrent identity politics

By now it should be clear that racism is a feature of the Trump administration, not a bug.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s hideous rewriting of Civil War history is merely the latest evidence. Can anyone really believe “the lack of an ability to compromise” caused that bloody war? Is it possible to become a four-star Marine general without knowing that the Constitution itself was structured around a compromise on slavery? Or that the first half of the 19th century saw a series of equally immoral compromises that let slavery continue?

How can a man whose son died in service of his country believe that “men . . . of good faith” is an acceptable description of military officers who committed treason and took up arms against the United States, as did Robert E. Lee and the rest of the Confederate generals? Do people of good faith hold others in cruel bondage, buy and sell them like chattel and forcibly compel their unpaid labor?

Elizabeth Warren: The Republican tax plan puts rich donors ahead of working families

The Republican leadership has outsourced its economic agenda to a handful of billionaires and corporate donors. From attempting to kick millions off of health insurance to rolling back rules protecting worker health and safety, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) have relentlessly pursued their donors’ interests at the expense of working families. The Republican tax plan unveiled Thursday is the latest example.

American families are already on the ropes. Booming corporate profits have not translated to higher wages for workers. The result is a middle-class squeeze: Most workers barely make more than what they did 30 years ago, while the costs of necessities such as housing, transportation, health care and education have risen sharply. If Congress tackled the middle-class squeeze head-on, it could provide more financial security for America’s families and produce faster economic growth.

But the Republican Party’s rich donors want tax giveaways, and the party is happy to oblige. According to estimates based on the original outline of the Republican tax plan, it showers $2.5 trillion on big corporations. Fewer than 10 years after sparking a devastating financial crisis and receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, big banks would reap billions from the Republican plan. Wells Fargo is projected to receive a bigger tax handout than any other U.S. company.

Laurence H. Tribe: The Supreme Court should strike down the death penalty

After more than 40 years of experimenting with capital punishment, it is time to recognize that we have found no way to narrow the death penalty so that it applies only to the “worst of the worst.” It also remains prone to terrible errors and unacceptable arbitrariness.

Arizona’s death-penalty scheme is a prime example of how capital punishForty-five years ago, in Furman v. Georgia, the court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional because it was administered arbitrarily. Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote that the death penalty was “cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.” As a result, Arizona and other states rewrote their death-penalty statutes in an attempt to narrow the punishment to the worst offenders. The Arizona legislature passed a law in 1973 that required prosecutors to prove at least one of six aggravating factors before the death penalty could be imposed.ment in the United States unavoidably violates the Eighth Amendment’s requirement that the death penalty not be applied arbitrarily. The Supreme Court will soon consider accepting a case challenging Arizona’s statute and the death penalty nationwide, in Hidalgo v. Arizona.

Forty-five years ago, in Furman v. Georgia, the court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional because it was administered arbitrarily. Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote that the death penalty was “cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.” As a result, Arizona and other states rewrote their death-penalty statutes in an attempt to narrow the punishment to the worst offenders. The Arizona legislature passed a law in 1973 that required prosecutors to prove at least one of six aggravating factors before the death penalty could be imposed.

 

Jill Filipovic: What Donald Trump Thinks It Takes to Be a Man

Donald Trump is a new kind of old-school American man. In some ways, he’s a throwback to days when authority and power were exclusively white and male by definition, when displays of masculine entitlement were overt and unapologetic. But he’s also a thoroughly modern man-child, the kind of overgrown adolescent you expect to find on internet forums dedicated to video games or anti-feminism: a tweeter of juvenile threats, a crass name-caller, an id unrestrained. Trump-style masculinity, in other words, is less John Wayne and more Tucker Max — and a revealing insight into American male anxiety.

American manhood is reshaping itself in two opposing directions, and both archetypes are ones we’ve never seen before. If Barack Obama embodied the new ideal of the progressive man — a hands-on dad and a self-identified feminist married to a high-achieving woman who was once his boss, who is also well mannered and protective of his family — then Mr. Trump is his antithesis, an old-school chauvinist embracing a new code of adolescent anarchy. He is a paradigm of feckless male entitlement, embracing male power while abnegating the traditional masculine requirements of chivalry, courtesy and responsibility.

Almost a year ago, he won the presidential election by presenting this version of aggrieved manhood in opposition to Hillary Clinton’s hand-raising Hermione Granger feminism. White American men loved it.

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