Mar 07 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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Ron Reagan: The Problem Isn’t Just Trump. It’s Our Ignorant Electorate.

For many of us, mornings have taken on a certain nauseating sameness. We roll out from beneath the blankets and, before the scent of coffee has reached our nostrils, we are checking the news feeds for the latest semi-literate tweet coughed up by the ranting, traitorous squatter occupying the Oval Office.

The rest of the day is spent in a kind of horrified suspension, holding our breath, waiting for whatever outrage will inevitably belch forth from the White House—once a bastion of seriousness and decorum, now ground zero for the demise of western democracy. How many lies will Trump spew today? Which dictators will he suck up to? Will he smear a Gold Star family? Attack a woman who dares to call out his smarmy predations? Unveil a puerile, racist nickname for a Senator or member of his own cabinet? [..]

Virulent as he may be, Donald J. Trump is a symptom not the disease. Without us, he would amount to nothing more than what he had always been before the bizzaro presidential election of 2016: a foppish narcissist desperate for any measure of affirmation; a joke; a nothing. He did not create his voters. They have been there all along, seething with sometimes justifiable anger and suffering their various insecurities. They created and enabled Trump. And make no mistake, in all their vulnerable humanity, they are us: Gullible, compliant, distracted, marinating in irony.

At root, we the people are the problem.

Robert Reich: Trump’s Brand Is Ayn Rand

Donald Trump once said he identified with Ayn Rand’s character Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead,” an architect so upset that a housing project he designed didn’t meet specifications he had it dynamited. [..]

Who is Ayn Rand and why does she matter? Ayn Rand – best known for two highly-popular novels still widely read today – “The Fountainhead,” published in 1943, and “Atlas Shrugged,” in 1957 – didn’t believe there was a common good. She wrote that selfishness is a virtue, and altruism is an evil that destroys nations.

When Rand offered these ideas they seemed quaint if not far-fetched. Anyone who lived through the prior half century witnessed our interdependence, through depression and war.

After the war we used our seemingly boundless prosperity to finance all sorts of public goods – schools and universities, a national highway system, and healthcare for the aged and poor (Medicare and Medicaid). We rebuilt war-torn Europe. We sought to guarantee the civil rights and voting rights of African-Americans. We opened doors of opportunity to women. Of course there was a common good. We were living it.

But then, starting in the late 1970s, Rand’s views gained ground. She became the intellectual godmother of modern-day American conservatism.

This utter selfishness, this contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality is eroding American life.

Dana Milbank: Republicans finally reveal their red line for Trump

What would it take for Republicans to turn against Donald Trump?

Now, finally, we know.

For nearly three years, Republican lawmakers have stood with Trump, offering only isolated protest, through all manner of outrage. Disparaging Mexican immigrants. Videotaped boasts about sexually assaulting women. Alleging that his predecessor put a wiretap on him. Falsely claiming mass­ive voter fraud. Racism directed at a federal judge. The firing of James B. Comey. Talk of women bleeding. A payoff to a porn actress over an alleged affair. A defense of white supremacists in Charlottesville. Support for Senate candidate Roy Moore despite allegations of child molestation. The guilty pleas of Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Rick Gates and the indictment of Paul Manafort. The botched travel ban and bungled repeal of Obamacare. Insulting Britain and other allies. Attacks on the FBI and judiciary and attempts to fire the attorney general. Talk of African “shithole” countries. Questions about his mental stability. The lethargic hurricane response in Puerto Rico. The stream of staff firings and resignations and personal and ethical scandals, most recently Tuesday’s finding that Kellyanne Conway twice violated the Hatch Act.

Republican lawmakers were, by and large, okay with all that. But now Trump has at last gone too far. He has proposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. And the Republican Party is in an all-out revolt.

Jim Hightower: We’re Told the Dow Jones Average…

Language matters. For example, the way our society’s leaders choose to comment on the health of America’s economy can either make clear to us commoners what’s going on — or obfuscate, hide and even lie about the reality we face.

Consider that the most common measurement that the media, politicians and corporations use to tell us whether our economy is zooming or sputtering is Wall Street’s index of stock prices. The media literally spews out some number every hour indicating that the Dow Jones Average of stock prices is up, down or sluggish — as though everyone is waiting breathlessly for that news.

But wait — nearly all stock is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans, so the Dow Jones Average says nothing about the economic condition of the 90 percent majority of Americans. For us — and for the true economic health of America as a whole — we need to know the Doug Jones Average. In plain language, the question leaders should ask every day is: How’re Doug and Delores Jones doing?

As we’ve seen for years now, stock prices keep rising to record highs, while wages and living standards of the middle class and poor majority have been held down by the same corporate and political “leaders” telling us to keep our eye on the Dow. Indeed, they also play a dirty language trick on us when they issue the monthly report on the health of America’s job market. Currently, they say, with the unemployment rate down to four percent, the job market is booming!

But wait again — that only reflects the number of jobs, not their dollar value in terms of wages and benefits. Having lots of people doing poorly paid work is not a healthy job economy. Notice that they don’t measure the stock market by the number of stocks out there, but by their value. And they should measure your job market the same way in order to get an honest picture of how Doug and Delores are doing.

Of course, they’d only do that if they gave a damn about Doug and Delores. And their actions more than prove they don’t.

Jill Abramson: Are we seeing signs of a Democratic wave in the primaries?

With new Democratic voters racing to the polls in big numbers in Tuesday’s primaries, Texas is looking purple rather than Republican red. That’s big news, especially on the heels of Democrats winning recently in Alabama, where Doug Jones beat Roy Moore, and Virginia, where Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor.

Though their optimism may be premature, national Democrats think Ted Cruz can be defeated in November by a well-funded liberal House member from El Paso with the name of Beto O’Rourke, who just won his state’s Democratic Senate nomination.

Republican gloom in Washington DC is palpable, with White House chaos, Donald Trump’s sinking approval ratings and incumbent retirements piling up. This week brought news that Mississippi’s long-serving Thad Cochran is leaving the Senate. That has left the Republican party searching for a replacement strong enough to defeat a Roy Moore-like right-winger in an upcoming primary from which Cochran has decided to withdraw. And a special House election in Pennsylvania next week looks dicey.

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