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Apr 19 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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Paul Krugman: Scam I Amn’t: Voters and the Tax Cut

I don’t know what will happen in the midterm elections. But if Republicans pull it out – that is, if they lose the popular vote by a small enough margin that gerrymandering and the geographic concentration of nonwhite voters frustrate the public’s will – it will be the result of tribalism. It won’t be because the G.O.P. won voters over with a tax cut.

That’s not what they expected. The people who rammed through a massive tax cut without hearings or analysis thought they could sell it to voters as free money for everyone; never mind the big bucks for corporations and the wealthy, look at the extra cash we’re putting in your pocket.

And history suggested that they might be right: the Bush tax cuts, like the TCJA, offered big breaks to the wealthy but only what amounted to loss leaders for the middle class. Yet as Larry Bartels famously documented in his paper “Homer gets a tax cut,” most people focused on their direct gains, and were unmoved by or unaware of the indirect implications of bigger deficits for government programs they depended on. As a result, the Bush tax cuts were popular – not hugely popular, but more people approved than disapproved, and they were probably a net electoral plus.

But not this time. Polling suggests that only a minority – and probably a declining minority — of the public considers the Trump tax cut a good idea. Most people don’t see any benefits from the tax cut in their paychecks. And Republicans have pretty much given up campaigning on the tax cut.

Richard Eskow: We Need a Housing Revolution Now

Here’s an experiment: If you’re not downtown as you read this, go there now and find some homeless people. They probably won’t be hard to find. Now, look at their faces.

If you can’t get downtown, look at their photographs online.

Now, imagine these same faces – just the faces – without anything to tell you that they’re homeless. They’re not that different than anyone else, are they?  Still, you may notice some differences. There may be more signs of ill health than you would find in a random sampling.

There will definitely be more people of color.

Housing Apartheid

Homeless people are, in fact, nearly four times more likely to be African American. They are eight times as likely to be Native American.

Half a century ago, the United States committed itself to housing justice. We’re not even close.

April 11, 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which was designed to eliminate discrimination in housing. But signs of economic discrimination in housing are everywhere: in Black communities devastated by foreclosure, a “highly racialized” process, in the continued “redlining” of Black neighborhoods, in the long-term loss of Black wealth, in the higher lending rates charged to African-American and Hispanic home buyers…

…and in the faces of the homeless.

Karen Attiah;Calling the police on black people isn’t a Starbucks problem. It’s an America problem.

It’s good that Starbucks, with its announcement this week that it will close thousands of stores for a day of “racial bias training” in May, is taking steps in the right direction after a video of two black men getting arrested in one of its coffee shops went viral. But white America’s habit of needlessly calling the police on black people is not just a Starbucks culture problem. It’s an American culture problem.[..]

“My anger is directed not just at the cops but also at the cowardly Starbucks manager who made the call to the police to begin with,” Jason Johnson wrote in an excellent account for the Root on the Starbucks incident, in which two black men quietly waiting for a friend ended up in handcuffs. “The men and women making these outrageous and unwarranted calls to police, which result in the harassment, unfair prosecution and even death of people of color, need to be found [and] publicly shamed.”

Peter Ceerto: There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria

Just after midnight on April 14, the U.S. and its allies bombed three Syrian regime targets. The reason, they said, was to punish Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Douma.

Now, the Syrian regime’s brutality has been well documented. Maybe the allegations are true. But there’s a lot about this that’s simply fishy.

Only days before the strikes, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis admitted that the U.S. was “still assessing” whether chemical weapons were used. Veteran journalist Robert Fisk has since spoken to local doctors there who cast doubt on the claims.

There’s been no independent international investigation. In fact, the U.S. started bombing the day before international investigators were slated to arrive in Douma.

President Trump, of all people, insists there was a humanitarian imperative to skip the fact-finding. “This is about humanity,” he said. But if we look at his response to other regional catastrophes, that doesn’t even begin to add up.

For one thing, NPR reports, Trump’s all-out war on refugees, especially Muslim ones, has meant that just 11 — eleven — Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. this year. We fired about 10 times that many missiles the night of the 14th alone.

Ten missiles for every refugee doesn’t strike me as terribly humanitarian. Especially when, as AirWars.org reports, U.S. coalition strikes have killed a minimum of 6,200 civilians between Syria and Iraq.

And just look at what U.S. allies are doing.

Jim Hightower; https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/04/18/examining-kochtopus

Multibillionaires Charles and David Koch want nothing less than to supplant America’s core democratic principle of majority rule — the will of The People — with their core plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights, also known as domination by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that “property” (accumulated wealth and the means to get it) is sacrosanct and cannot be restricted by the pesky majority for the Common Good. Cloaking their efforts with layers of dark-money front groups, the Koch brothers have used their enormous assets to mount a far-ranging, ultrasophisticated assault on American democracy.

From their early involvement in The John Birch Society (daddy Fred Koch being an early member), they continued their rightward march, and by the 1970s, both had plunged into the abyss of a laissez-fairyland plutocracy. With the fervor of religious cultists, they’ve devoted themselves to the cause of “liberty” — by which they mean the government’s only proper role is keeping the avaricious pursuits of the wealthy owner class free from any interference by you, me and the democratic “us.” They believe that We The People can neither tax the riches of the owner class nor set rules on how it treats workers, consumers, nature … and society as a whole.

Even more shocking than their arrogance is just how far they’ve come and are willing to go with this scheme. For nearly 40 years, they and their uber-rich allies have been battering the legal structures and mechanisms that give ordinary people some chance to control their own destinies.