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Mar 01 2016

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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Dean Baker: We Poisoned Kids in Flint to Keep Their Parents From Having Jobs

We all understand the concept of trade-offs. If we spend more of our paycheck on restaurants, then we will have less money for rent. If we spend more time watching television we will have less time to read or do sports. There will often be similar sorts of trade-offs in public policy decisions. If we spend more money on health care then we will have less money for education or child care.

But trade-offs in public policy decisions don’t always work that way. At a time when the economy has large amounts of unemployed workers and idle productive capacity, spending more in one area doesn’t have to mean spending less in another. In other words, we can spend more on both health care and education.

This is an issue that many, including those sitting in Congress, often find very confusing. After all, it is standard practice in politics to talk about the government’s budget like the family’s budget. We all know that we can’t spend more than we earn month after month.

Unfortunately most of the people in policy positions either don’t know or don’t care that the government’s budget is not like their family’s budget. The government can spend more than it taxes, and it can do this by large amounts for an indefinite period of time. The limit on the government’s spending is not its tax revenue, but the economy’s ability to produce goods and services.

Gary Legim: Requiem for a “liberal news network”: How MSNBC abandoned the left precisely when the left is on the rise

The long slide of MSNBC from favorite liberal television hangout to denuded corporate vampire continues.

With the ugly departure of Melissa Harris-Perry from its ranks over the weekend, MSNBC continues its makeover from a place for televised progressive forums into a more hard-news channel, a la CNN. With that shift in priorities, it seems the network didn’t know what to make of Harris-Perry’s show. Befitting her main job as a full-time political science professor at Wake Forest University, Harris-Perry often tackled the complex subjects of race and gender — and the places where they intersect with American society — in a way that made it feel more like an undergraduate seminar than a regular TV show. It’s no coincidence that she and her fans referred to her audience as #nerdland. [..]

Harris-Perry herself backed off the tone of her initial email a bit, saying later that she didn’t think the sidelining that led to her frustrations and eventual departure had to do with the fact that she is black. Still, it’s impossible not to notice that this move reduced the number of African-Americans hosting their own shows on the network down to two. One of them, the Reverend Al Sharpton, is buried at 8 p.m. on Sunday mornings. A year ago, there were four African-Americans with their own slots — also including Joy Reid and Tamron Hall, who still hosts her show at 11 a.m. on weekdays — and the Rev. Al’s show aired five nights a week, Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. His move to Sunday mornings some months ago was rightly seen as a demotion.

David Dayen: No, Bernie Sanders’ moment isn’t over: Why his gargantuan impact can’t be erased by a Super Tuesday drubbing

For most of the past year, the traditional media has waged a determined campaign to pretend the Democratic presidential primary doesn’t exist. (The DNC certainly did its best to help with that effort.) Bernie Sanders upended that studied neglect by raising more money that any presidential hopeful and battling presumptive favorite Hillary Clinton to a draw in early states.

Now Clinton’s blowout in South Carolina, and the expectations of more lopsided victories throughout the South on Super Tuesday (and perhaps even in expected Sanders strongholds in the North), has led media types to exhale, secure in the knowledge that Clinton will storm to victory, so they can turn their attentions to the Donald Trump auto wreck for a while longer.

They should resist that temptation, because as interesting as the slow-motion detonation of the Republican Party has been, Democrats are engaging in their own self-reckoning that will prove just as seismic in the future. Sanders’ biggest accomplishment, if it holds, will come in getting Democrats to dream again.

Heather Digby Parton: The most terrifying Trump endorsement yet suggests blackmailing Mexico with the PATRIOT Act

I mentioned yesterday that Trump had secured the endorsements of the most notorious bullies, racists and xenophobes in the country. Going into Super Tuesday, he doesn’t need super-delegates, he’s got the Super-bigots: Senator Jeff Sessions, Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Maine governor Paul LePage, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, nativist and anti-Semite Pat Buchanan and now Kris Kobach, the anti-immigrant activist and Kansas Secretary of State.

I wrote about Kobach a while back, noting his history as former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s special adviser on immigration, who had proposed a federal law that would have required local police to stop and arrest people “suspected” of being undocumented immigrants. It went nowhere in the Bush administration, but it served as the template for what became the Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 and similar proposals that were very hot around the nation until the courts struck them down.

Kobach would later turn his attention to vote suppression and helped push many of the Voter ID laws now in force around the states. He ran for his current office in the Tea Party wave of of 2010 on a “voter integrity” platform and managed to enact some of the most draconian voter ID laws in the country based upon the notion that hordes of undocumented immigrants were preparing to steal elections in Kansas on behalf of the Democratic Party.  So it comes as no surprise that he would be among the bullies and bigots endorsing Donald Trump.

Harold Meyerson: Why are there suddenly millions of socialists in America?

In 1906 German sociologist Werner Sombart wrote an essay entitled Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? that sought to explain why the US, alone among industrialized democracies, had not developed a major socialist movement.

Today, however, we need to pose a different question: why are there socialists in the United States? In this nation that has long been resistant to socialism’s call, who are all these people who now suddenly deem themselves socialists? Where did they come from? What do they mean by socialism?

Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign has made clear that many Democrats are inclined to vote for a candidate who proclaims himself a democratic socialist, but even more dramatic and consequential are the many Democrats who say they’re socialists themselves. In a poll on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, more than 40% of likely Democratic caucus attendees said they were socialists. In a Boston Globe poll on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, 31% of New Hampshire Democratic voters called themselves socialists; among voters under 35, just over half did. And in late February, a Bloomberg poll of likely voters in the Democratic primary in South Carolina – South Carolina! – showed that 39% described themselves as socialists.