Dec 07 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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Trevor Timm: If Republicans want to cut fat, they might start at the Pentagon

Republicans are always railing against “government waste” in their never-ending quest to cut government programs. Well, the Washington Post has presented them with the quintessential example of what they can tackle as soon as the new Congress is sworn in: an almost unfathomable amount of taxpayer dollars being wasted at the defense department.

The Post’s Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward published an incredible investigation on Monday uncovering that the Pentagon itself commissioned an internal report aimed at identifying wasteful spending within its bureaucracy. The auditors, which only looked at the agency’s business and support operations, found a staggering $125bn that the Pentagon was wasting. [..]

Donald Trump, meanwhile, repeatedly claimed during the presidential campaign he would cut “waste, fraud and abuse” from the budget of all sorts of things , including the Pentagon. (It was his go-to cliché whenever someone asked him how he was going to pay for something he proposed). In fact, it’s been the Republican party’s mantra for years anytime they bring up the debt or the deficit.

So Trump and his Republican colleagues wants to get rid of “waste,” there’s literally never been a more giant and obvious example. Here’s their time to act!

Steven W. Thrasher: Walter Scott was shot on camera. When will he receive justice?

Like most black people I know, I wasn’t especially surprised that a jury was unable to convict white South Carolina police officer Michael Slager for killing Walter Scott, despite shooting him multiple times in the back and on video. The people I know who live in black and brown skin were also relatively unsurprised to learn last week that a white man in Louisiana, Ronald Gasser, was initially released from custody without charges after shooting and killing former NFL player Joe McKnight. He was charged with manslaughter on Tuesday.

Are we hurt by news of tragedies like Scott’s killing and a lack of justice for it? Yes. Are we sad to know Joe McKnight’s killer was walking around free after the shooting? Of course. Humiliated to know that Gasser could have emboldened other people to shoot black men with impunity? Very much so.

But are we surprised? Not at all. American society assumes black guilt at all times, especially from men who are deemed large. The reason why you read the description of people like Scott and McKnight as “unarmed” so much in news stories is because police and readers alike assume black men to be armed and dangerous at all times – even though black Americans killed by police are more likely to be unarmed than white Americans.

Garrison Keillor: Thank you, Trump voters, for this wonderful joke

It’s a wonderful satire right out of Twain or Thurber. A minority of the electorate goes for the loosest and least knowledgeable candidate, certain that he will lose and their votes will be only harmless protest, a middle finger to Washington, and then — whoa. The joke comes true. You put a whoopee cushion on your father’s chair and he sits down and it barks and he has a massive coronary. You wanted to get a rise out of him and instead he falls down dead. Very funny.

Thank you, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for this wonderful joke. Voters in high dudgeon against Wall Street manipulators and the Washington aristocracy vote for the billionaire populist who puts tycoons in power and the Republican hierarchy who owned the logjam that the voters voted against. If Billy the Kid had been smart, he’d’ve run for sheriff.

Amanda Marcotte: After Hillary, women across the country are ready to run — but can they win?

A month ago, most observers — even Republicans! — believed we would be inaugurating the first female president in January. But even though Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by a margin that now exceeds 2.6 million ballots, it was not enough to secure the necessary victory in the Electoral College.

The woman who would be president lost in a campaign marked by stunning levels of misogyny, with mainstream media outlets getting caught up with the right-wing belief that a woman who has risen so high must have some dirty secret lurking in her emails. To add insult to injury, she lost to a man who literally bragged about sexually assaulting women.

With all this taken together, the message sent to American women couldn’t be clearer: Stay in your place and let men monopolize the power or you’ll be viciously smacked down with lies.

It would be understandable under the circumstances if the whole thing made women reluctant to run for office. Why bother, when our country is so sexist that a self-professed sexual assailant and obvious charlatan with no elected or appointed political work experience can beat an immensely qualified woman through a campaign of barely disguised sexist innuendo?

Heather Digby Parton: Will the House Freedom Caucus rescue Obamacare (without meaning to) through sheer intransigence?

Richard Eskow: Will Trump Bring the Robot Apocalypse?

The future was supposed to bring prosperity and leisure to working people, not joblessness and misery. But that was before the money guys took over.

This week Amazon announced that it’s planning to open a grocery store that has no cashiers or checkout lines. The corporation said that customers would be able to download an app, link their phones to electronic shopping carts that track the items they take from the shelves, then simply walk out with their items.

It was also reported this week that President-elect Donald Trump is considering Andrew Puzder, CEO of the parent company to fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for Secretary of Labor. Puzder, who is already an influential Trump advisor, once boasted about the advantages of replacing human employees with machines.

“They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” Puzder said.

According to the 1913 law that created it, “The purpose of the Department of Labor shall be to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.”

Now we learn that Trump may entrust the well-being of working Americans to someone who wants to eliminate them altogether.