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Nov 30 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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Madeleine K. Albright: The national security emergency we’re not talking about

America’s diplomatic professionals have issued a dire warning about the crisis facing the State Department: Scores of top diplomats, including some of our highest-ranked career Foreign Service officers, have left the agency at “a dizzying speed” over the past 10 months.

“The rapid loss of so many senior officers has a serious, immediate and tangible effect on the capacity of the United States to shape world events,” wrote former ambassador Barbara Stephenson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).

As a former secretary of state, I agree. This is not a story that has two sides. It is simply a fact that the United States relies on diplomacy as our first line of defense — to cement alliances, build coalitions, address global problems and find ways to protect our interests without resorting to military force. When we must use force, as in the fight against the Islamic State, our diplomats ensure that we can do so effectively and with the cooperation of other countries.

Richard Eskow: Mulvaney’s In, Bankers Win, and Trump Shafts Americans Again

A Trump-appointed judge has issued his ruling. Mick Mulvaney – the Tea Party Congressman turned Trump apparatchik – will run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The political extremist who once said the CFPB was “extremely frightening,” who called it “a joke… in a sick, sad kind of way” and said he would “like to get rid of it,” is now its Acting Director.

Mulvaney didn’t wait for the judge’s ruling before taking the helm. He showed up at the office bearing doughnuts for the staff.

Were the condemned being served their last meal?

On his first day on the job, Mulvaney froze all hiring and rule-making, bringing the bureau’s critical work to an effective standstill. The banks had won the first round. And Trump proved once again that, when it comes to fighting for working Americans, he’s just another fast-talking huckster.

E. J. Dionne: Our political foundation is rotting away

Great nations and proud democracies fall when their systems become so corrupted that the decay is not even noticed — or the rot is written off as a normal part of politics.

President Trump has created exactly such a crisis. He has not done it alone. The corrosion of norms and values began long before he propelled the nation past the edge, and his own party is broadly complicit in enabling his attacks on truth, decency and democratic values.

In fact, Republicans are taking full advantage of the bedlam Trump leaves in his wake. They are using a twisted process to push through a profoundly flawed tax bill with scant scrutiny.

The convoluted proposal is so generous to the wealthiest interests in the country and so damaging to significant parts of the middle class and the poor that GOP leaders know it would not survive extended debate.

Jennifer Rubin: Americans out of sync with trigger-happy Trump

President Trump disparages the idea of diplomatic negotiations with North Korea. He went to the United Nations and vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” (not just its military capacity). The Senate and our top commanders have been buzzing about whether a first strike order from Trump would be illegal and hence could be ignored.

One element missing from the discussion is whether the American people would support such action. This is not an incidental concern. If public opinion runs against a preemptive action, Congress and the military will be far more inclined to restrict the president or even defy him. If the public is persuaded that we cannot live with a North Korea that can strike the United States with nuclear weapons on intercontinental ballistic missiles, Trump will be much more likely to take action.

The good news is that Trump has done little to persuade the public of the merits of preemptive action, which in the context of North Korea would likely entail mass destruction and human causalities on a scale not seen since World War II. The bad news is that they don’t seem adamantly opposed to it, which is surprising given the experience of the Iraq War, when preemptive military action turned out to be based on erroneous intelligence.

Dana Milbank: Trump says pharma gets away with murder. Alex Azar is the guy with the hatchet.

President Trump could not have been more clear.

“The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder,” he said in mid-October. He had used the same “getting away with murder” line previously, adding that “pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.”

Yet just four weeks later, Trump nominated the former president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. business to run the Department of Health and Human Services. If drug companies are murderers, Alex Azar is the guy with the rusty hatchet.

Azar was deputy secretary at HHS during the George W. Bush administration before he cashed out and made millions at Lilly while the company’s prices for insulin and other drugs soared. Now he’s taking another spin through the revolving door — nominated by a phony populist who had promised to drain the swamp but is instead handing over the government to corporations and the treasury to the rich.

The Senate will probably confirm him. This Senate would confirm Mr. Fox as secretary of henhouse security. But even a couple of the Republicans at Azar’s first confirmation hearing Wednesday were squeamish about the spectacle of a Big Pharma executive being installed as the ultimate policeman of drug prices.

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