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Feb 05 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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Marcy Wheeler: The Nunes-Ryan Civil Liberties Sham

For the last three weeks, privacy advocates have been buffeted by two political whirlwinds. First, the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act two weeks ago, authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. And then today, the release of a partisan memo, authored by Nunes’ staffers, purporting to show FBI and Department of Justice abuses of the individual Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process.

Because Nunes and others ― up to and including House Speaker Paul Ryan ― claimed to be motivated by a concern about civil liberties, it was generally assumed the privacy community would join the clamor. But those of us who’ve been through several surveillance fights with these posers know the reality is far more complex. Ultimately, two principles are at issue: the rule of law and privacy. In both instances, Nunes and Ryan are on the wrong side of the issue.

Paul Krugman: Let Them Eat French Fries

In a now-deleted tweet, which has nonetheless already become notorious, Paul Ryan tried to hype the benefits of his massive corporate tax cut by celebrating the example of a worker who’s getting $1.50 more per week. That’s roughly the price of a small French fries at McDonald’s.

Should we keep giving Ryan grief over that tweet? Yes, we should – and not just because it shows how out of touch he is. By highlighting the tiny tax cut some workers will get as if that were the point and main result of a bill that blows up the deficit by more than $1 trillion, he helps illustrate the bait-and-switch at the core of the whole G.O.P. agenda.

For tax cuts aren’t free. Sooner or later, the federal government has to pay its way. Even if you don’t think the budget deficit is currently a big problem, except under very special circumstances anything that reduces revenue will eventually have to be offset by later tax increases or spending cuts.

Charles M. Blow: Constitutional Crisis in Slow Motion

Donald Trump will destroy this entire country — its institutions and its safeguards, the rule of law and the customs of civility, the concept of truth and the inviolable nature of valor — to protect his own skin.

We are not dealing with a normal person here, let alone a normal president.

This is a damaged man, a man who has always lived in his own reality and played by his own rules. When the truth didn’t suit him, he simply, with a devilish ease, invented an alternate reality. There were no hard and fast absolutes in his realm of rubber. Everything was malleable, and he had an abundance of gall and a deficit of integrity to push everything until it bent.

Also, he didn’t start his run for president believing that he could actually win, or even wanting to win. It was just another show, another act in the carnival. He came slowly, I believe, to the realization that he could win, and more important, that he wanted to.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Nunes paves Trump’s road to autocracy

The autocratic leader lies and then falsely charges his opponents with lying. He politicizes institutions that are supposed to be free of politics by falsely accusing his foes of politicizing them. He victimizes others by falsely claiming they are victimizing him.

The autocrat also counts on spineless politicians to cave in to his demands. And as they destroy governmental institutions at his bidding, they insist they are defending them.

In her classic 1951 book, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” the philosopher Hannah Arendt offered two observations that help us understand the assumptions and purposes behind the memo created by the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee turned propagandist for President Trump.

The totalitarian method of the 1920s and 1930s, she noted, was to “dissolve every statement of fact into a declaration of purpose.”

Andrea Flynn: No, David Brooks, Fighting for Women’s Autonomy is not a Death Knell for Progressivism

Last week started with the GOP failing to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and ended with New York Times columnist David Brooks trying to convince Democrats that fighting for women’s autonomy is a death knell to progressivism. Brooks’ rant is just the latest in an unrelenting attack on women’s reproductive freedom. White men will apparently never tire in their quest to convince women to sacrifice their own rights to advance others—as if that were even a possibility.

Brooks’ arguments reflect the misinformation and flawed framing that fuel opposition to “late-term” abortions, even among those who might otherwise consider themselves pro-choice.

Brooks presents women’s autonomy as a zero-sum game. [..]

Politics aside, Brooks is pedaling a false narrative that women can be safe, healthy and economically secure without also having reproductive autonomy. This faulty thinking is abrasive but not surprising when one considers that he wrote his entire column about abortion and FAILED TO EVEN TALK ABOUT WOMEN. Who does he thinks lives at the intersections of racism and sexism and xenophobia, and therefore suffers the most from conservative policies like cuts to public services such as health care and education?? WOMEN DO. Particularly poor women, women of color, and immigrant women.

And no, progressive women don’t “want late-term abortion[s] so much.” Women do want comprehensive health care. We want reproductive health services that allow us to control the timing and size of our families. We want pay equity and good jobs and benefits like those provided by nearly every other country in the world that proclaims to care about families.

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