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Dec 14 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: Scam I Am: Why Is the G.O.P. Rushing This Tax Abomination?

So, it seems that Republicans are responding to the devastating defeat in Alabama – which is part of a sustained pattern of underperformance in special elections, demonstrating that bad polls reflect reality, not bad polling, by … doubling down on a massively unpopular tax plan, whose main focus is on cutting corporate taxes.

In fact, they’re rushing to jam the thing through before Doug Jones can be certified, in a stunning act of hypocrisy from the same people who demanded that Obamacare wait until Scott Brown was seated and held up a Supreme Court seat for a year. It’s outrageous. But it also looks like really bad politics, especially given what we know is coming: calls next year for cuts in popular social programs, because of a deficit Republicans just voted to explode. So what are they thinking?

I don’t know for sure, but I’d suggest three possible factors in this mad rush. [..]

And while Democrats should and will fight this attempt to ram tax cuts through with the vote of a lame-duck Senator, if I were a Dem strategist looking toward next November I’d be looking at current GOP moves and thinking, “Make my day.”

Dean Baker: Mick Mulvaney and the Bad Actors Club

Most people have probably heard about Mick Mulvaney’s seizure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as Donald Trump’s appointed “acting director.” They probably don’t realize quite how outrageous this move is.

First, it is worth noting that Mulvaney openly holds the CFPB in contempt. When he was still in the House of Representatives, he referred to it as a “joke.” Mulvaney has made it clear that he would be happier if the CFPB did not exist. Appointing him as acting director is a bit like selecting a hardcore atheist as the next pope.

It is also worth placing the CFPB in a larger economic context. The CFPB’s general purpose is to protect people who are less financially sophisticated from predation by the financial industry. While it does perform this purpose, it also is working to make the financial industry more efficient, insofar as it succeeds in this effort.

Remember, the economic purpose of the financial industry is allocate credit to those who need it. In principle, we want to use as few resources as possible in this process. If we only need 1 million people rather than 2 million people to issue and service loans and perform other financial operations, then we have freed up a million people to work in health care, education or other productive sectors of the economy.

Charles M. Blow: The Omen of Alabama

The political winds are shifting with all the subtlety of a hurricane.

Doug Jones’s defeat of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election is yet the latest signal that the accommodators of Donald Trump, those who have normalized and bolstered him, the gutless, schismatic conservatives who abandoned principle to follow a pariah, will have hell to pay in 2018.

Yes, Roy Moore was defeated, but it can never be fully erased from history or memory that he was endorsed by this president and supported by the Republican National Committee. All of Roy Moore’s sins are their sins, and they will wear that scarlet R straight into the midterms.

We should also note that Jones didn’t win by a landslide. The margin was thin as a rail. Moore still won the Republican vote and the white vote and, yes, the “white born-again Christian” vote. These people contorted their faith to support a man accused of unthinkable transgressions.

They made a mockery of Christian faith and moral fidelity. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians, “God is not mocked.”

The Resistance is marching on, emboldened, with a strategy and proof that the strategy can work.

Charles J. Sykes: A G.O.P. Tragedy in Four Acts

With Roy Moore’s humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race, the Trumpified Republican Party finds itself both defeated and dishonored, with no sign that it has yet hit bottom.

At every stage of the run-up to this special election, Republicans could have resisted, pushed back, or drawn lines, but their failure to do so led them inexorably to this moment: the defeat of an unreconstructed bigot and ignorant crank who had the full-throated backing of the president they have embraced and empowered.

It may be worthwhile charting the party’s descent to this moment.

Think of it as a drama in four acts. [..]

Some will argue that Republicans actually a dodged a bullet in Alabama, because they will not have to deal with the nightmare of a Senator Moore. But Republicans now head into a fearsome storm of outrage, tightly lashed to both President Trump and memories of Roy Moore’s horrific candidacy.

Throughout this final act, the party’s leaders will desperately try to pretend that this is not a tragedy and that they were not the ones who brought this upon themselves. Some of them will know better, but I suspect that in the final scene they will be left with the question “What have we done?”

Laura Flanders: Life or Death for the FCC

It’s life or death for the Federal Communications Commission and death may be the honest option.

Let’s face it, the FCC’s mission ​, to regulate communications media in the public interest,​ ​ has been beaten to a pulp by politicians of both parties over the last t wo​ decades. Now Trump’s FCC chair, Ajit Pai wants to kill the wounded agency off, and he may do it, to all intents and purposes, at the Commission’s meeting this December 14th.

​T​he​ FCC​ date​s​ back ​close almost a century to a time when new technology was bursting with potential and open to use or abuse, with devastating implications for democracy. Its mission was forged by movements who understood that the nation teetered on a brink. Would the US be the land of misogyny, white supremacy, militarism, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant bias, or something better?

​Would monopoly capitalism accumulate unchecked? The social justice movements of the 1920s and 30s disagreed about many things, but they understood from experience that no one of them stood a chance of shifting power or displacing arrogance without a functioning pubic information exchange. The future of the nation would only go one way if only those who could pay could have a say.