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Jan 03 2018

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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Lucia Graves: Trump’s attacks against a biased liberal media obscure one fact: it doesn’t exist

Everyone loves to hate the media for its supposed liberal bias but Donald Trump, never one to lose at things, has taken it to new heights.

Trump has called the media “highly slanted”, “fake news”, and “the enemy of the American people”. Like so much of what he says, his claims need fact-checking, all the more so because the myth has been around much longer than Trump. Years before he was politically center stage, Sarah Palin dubbed it the “lamestream” liberal media, while to Newt Gingrich it was simply the “elite media”. Trump just did what he does best: supercharge the myth.

To the extent the claim has truth, it is limited to the political persuasions of editorial staffers, many of whom exercise relatively little editorial control. The more salient questions around bias, then, have little to do with staffer headcounts, and more with the allegiances and affiliations of owners. They also, in this increasingly polarized news environment, have to do with the sources where Americans get their news.

The answers there point, overwhelmingly, to conservative control.

Matt Taibbi: Goodbye, Erica Garner

Erica Garner resembled her father very much in life, and now shares his misfortune in early death, passing from heart failure this weekend. She was 27. The horrible unexpected loss of someone so young is particularly painful and tragic because she only just had a child, a baby boy she named Eric, after her father.

That little boy will grow up, I hope, to learn that his mother was a heroic woman who cared little about things like money and celebrity, and instead asked always for the more important things the world unfortunately has trouble giving, like justice, fairness, and love.

She had a lot on her mind recently. Throughout the tumult of the last three years Erica Garner was constantly surrounded by drama.

There were disputes about money, battles over the care of relatives, problems with a man in her life. Still in her twenties, she had gone into congestive heart failure after the birth of little Eric, a terrible and confounding scare for someone so young. It didn’t make sense: how much bad fortune could one family have?

Throughout it all, she remained focused on what she saw as the last realistic shot at justice for her father, the possibility of a federal civil rights prosecution. Through December there continued to be rumors about a federal grand jury that was still taking witness statements in the case. Erica had been led to expect news on that front, one way or the other, by the New Year.

There may yet still be a federal prosecution. But the passage of this New Year without an indictment would have been still another blow. She would have been furious.

Jared Bernatein: A New Year’s Resolution for the Media: Do Not Let Republicans Get Away With Saying ‘Reforms’ When They Mean ‘Cuts’

I have a simple request to journalists, columnist, pundits, and others writing about forthcoming efforts of Republicans to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the anti-poverty programs that make up our safety net. Call such efforts “cuts.” Do not call them “reforms,” “changes,” “overhauls,” “fixes,” “reshaping,” “modernizing,” or any other euphemism that could easily be misconstrued. At least, do not do so without also clearly defining what they really are, which is cuts.

While D.C. insiders speak the unique creole of our swamp, there’s no reason to expect general readers to intuitively understand that when House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) says he plans to “reform” entitlements, he means to cut them. Journalists, in particular, should not do Ryan et al.’s bidding by assuming readers get the meaning behind the words.

Examples abound. To be fair, these are often otherwise informative pieces, but they sometimes adapt the intentionally obfuscating language of those who would cut these programs.

Jill Richardson: A New Year’s Resolution: Time to Speak Up

As we go into a new year, I have a resolution. I’m going to speak up more when men do things that make me uneasy.

Take the other day, for example.

I really like my neighbor. I also have no interest in dating him. It’s nothing against him, really. But I don’t know him well, and I’m not interested in dating anyone at the moment. (Men don’t believe that when I say it, but it’s true. And that isn’t some female code for “try harder.”)

I ran into my neighbor while coming home, and we stopped to chat. Before we parted, he touched the back of my neck and kind of massaged it for a second.

Not knowing what that meant, or what to do about it, I did nothing. I pretended it didn’t happen. Denial works, right?

A few days later I ran into him again. Again we chatted, and he massaged my neck for a second or two again. What?

Seriously, I would never, ever do that to someone I wasn’t dating. Why is he doing that?

He isn’t being aggressive, exactly. My neck isn’t an erogenous zone. He isn’t doing anything else. And I want to be friends with this guy. He’s a nice guy.

I don’t look forward to the awkward conversation when I tell him to knock it off. I don’t want to harm our friendship. That’s why I’ve said nothing.

But the truth is, this was how it started with the first man who sexually assaulted me back in college. It started out with just some unwanted touching. In that case, he held my hand.

There were more red flags with the guy in college. I’d yank my hand away, he’d take it again. Rinse, repeat.

Ultimately that escalated to an actual assault.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s loony nuclear-button tweet adds to incoherence on North Korea

Less than a month ago, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “We’ve said from the diplomatic side, we’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk. We are ready to have the first meeting without precondition.” He continued: “Let’s just meet, and we can talk about the weather if you want. Talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table, if that’s what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards.” The very next day, the White House seemed to walk that back. [..]

As we’ve noted, the aversion to talks coming from the White House is not a sentiment shared by our Asian allies, especially South Korea. Pyongyang has now cleverly sought to exploit that divide. “South Korea on Tuesday offered talks with North Korea next week, amid a tense standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s Day speech that he was ‘open to dialogue’ with Seoul,” Reuters reported. “Kim also said he was open to the possibility of North Korean athletes taking part in Winter Olympics South Korea hosts next month.”

That prompted the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to declare on Tuesday: “We won’t take any of the talks seriously if they don’t do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea. We consider this to be a very reckless regime. We don’t think we need a Band-Aid and we don’t think we need to smile and take a picture.” She added: “We think that we need to have them stop nuclear weapons and they need to stop it now. So North Korea can talk with anyone they want but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have.” In other words, North Korea has to capitulate before we talk to its representatives.