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Dec 05 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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Eugene Robinson: Populism died on SaturdayWe know that President Trump and his campaign either colluded with the Russian effort to undermine U.S. democracy or tried mightily to do so. We know that Trump has apparently obstructed justice to try to halt investigation into what happened. What we don’t know is whether Congress, in the end, will do its sworn duty to protect the Constitution.

We also don’t know what else special counsel Robert S. Mueller III might have discovered, especially about the Trump family’s international financial dealings. Or what Mueller might be learning from Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators. Or how far Trump, who is increasingly frantic, might yet go to squash the Mueller probe.

It is true that there is no federal statute against “collusion.” But a specific law is not necessary for citizens and their representatives in Congress to make a judgment: Is it acceptable for a presidential candidate and officials of his campaign to encourage an adversarial foreign power’s efforts to meddle in the U.S. election process — and then seek to reward that foreign power by easing sanctions? Yes or no?

Paul Krugman: Republicans Are Coming for Your Benefits

Republicans don’t care about budget deficits, and never did. They only pretend to care about deficits when one of two things is true: a Democrat is in the White House, and deficit rhetoric can be used to block his agenda, or they see an opportunity to slash social programs that help needy Americans, and can invoke deficits as an excuse. All of this has been obvious for years to anyone paying attention.

So it’s not at all surprising that they were willing to enact a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy even though all independent estimates said this would add more than $1 trillion to the national debt. And it was also predictable that they would return to deficit posturing as soon as the deed was done, citing the red ink they themselves produced as a reason to cut social spending.

Yet even the most cynical among us are startled both by how quickly the bait-and-switch is proceeding and by the contempt Republicans are showing for the public’s intelligence.

Paul Waldman: Robert Mueller is following the money, and that may put Trump in serious danger

“Follow the money,” the source known as Deep Throat told Bob Woodward as he was reporting the Watergate scandal. Tuesday we learn that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is following President Trump’s money. Reuters reports:

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank for data on accounts held by President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday…

Germany’s largest bank received a subpoena from Mueller several weeks ago to provide information on certain money and credit transactions, the person said, without giving details, adding key documents had been handed over in the meantime.

Deutsche Bank, which has loaned the Trump organization hundreds of millions of dollars for real estate ventures, said it would not comment on any of its clients.

This may turn out to be no big deal — perhaps Mueller will find that all Trump’s transactions with Deutsche Bank were aboveboard and free of any funny business, and also that nothing he discovers there will lead to evidence of any other misconduct on Trump’s part. But the fact that Mueller is looking at Deutsche Bank means his probe is reaching the very heart of Trump’s financial life.

Catherine Rampell: Populism died on Saturday

Populism, RIP.

It croaked on a birthday of sorts. This month marks 10 years since the Great Recession — and thereby the social movement it unleashed — was born.

This obituary begins in December 2007, when the spark of the financial crisis grew into a fire. The conflagration would go on to blaze through more than 8 million jobs, trillions of dollars in wealth, millions of foreclosed homes and half the value of the stock market.

Older and middle-age workers would lose jobs and nest eggs. Younger workers would get stuck in dead-end careers, if they could find careers at all, and fall behind on milestones of adulthood such as homeownership and marriage.

And millions of children would grow up watching their parents stress about money. Some would come to wonder whether socialism was really such a dirty word after all.

Amid disillusionment with elites, resentment of “banksters” and their garish bonuses, and furor with regulators who let the crisis happen and then held no one — but no one — truly accountable, a populist fever erupted.

For some, this populism took a decidedly leftist strain.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: A new Poor People’s Campaign wants to change how society defines morality

Fifty years ago this week, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference announced the Poor People’s Campaign. Calling for a cross-racial coalition of Americans living in poverty to demand better living conditions, King described the need for the campaign in terms that feel particularly timely in the Trump era. “All of us can feel the presence of a kind of social insanity which could lead us to national ruin,” King declared.

Half a century later, as Republican leaders ram through a ruinous tax bill that will exacerbate economic inequality, a coalition of faith and social justice organizations is bringing King’s vision into the 21st century. Led by Rev. William J. Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is planning 40 days of coordinated action in the spring of 2018 at statehouses across the country. Like its predecessor, the modern Poor People’s Campaign is focused on what King described as the “triple evils” of racism, poverty and militarism — with the addition of ecological devastation, a global crisis that disproportionately affects people living in poverty.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) details why it’s so critical at this moment to not merely commemorate the anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, but also to reengage with King’s crusade to organize and build the power of people who are too often marginalized in our society.

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