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Jan 04 2017

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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Richard Wolffe: Donald Trump didn’t save the ethics committee. You did

The last time a Republican president took office after losing the popular vote, he made it clear that ethics were his highest priority. How could we tell? At every campaign stop, George W Bush ended his stump speech by raising his right hand and promising to uphold not just the laws of the land but what he called “the honor and dignity of the office”. For good measure, he added: “So help me God.”

We may all need divine intervention to defend ethics inside the new US Congress and the new Trump administration.

It’s not clear why the new Republican-dominated Congress thought it was a good idea to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. But it is clear why they decided to abandon the plan: public pressure from social media and a deluge of phone calls to their offices. [..]

The voters’ desire for reform will not be satisfied by the survival of the congressional ethics office. And it certainly won’t be satisfied by the sight of the Trump children running the president’s businesses.

If Donald Trump fails to drain his own family swamp, he will quickly discover how you can win the electoral college but lose the battle for power.

Dana Milbank: Trump opponents find an ally: Republican incompetence

Doesn’t anybody here know how to work this thing?

For 10 years, Republicans have waited for their chance to govern, and finally the voters handed them the car keys: unified GOP control of Congress and the White House.

But the moment the starter’s flag dropped Tuesday, the opening day of the 115th Congress, the eager majority seized the wheel of power, hit the gas — and immediately lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a guardrail.

It was the simplest of tasks for the new Congress: The House was to approve a new rules package for the 2017-2018 term, normally a routine matter. But a group of House GOP lawmakers, ambushing their leaders, persuaded the Republican caucus to tack on a plan that would gut ethics enforcement.

Heather Digby Parton: Does impeachment begin now? The case for building the end of Trump’s presidency before it even starts

If anyone thought that the new Congress might be a moderating force on the Donald Trump wrecking crew, the latest news from Capitol Hill isn’t reassuring. This headline for a story by David Weigel in the Washington Post says it all:  Claiming mandate, GOP Congress lays plans to propel sweeping conservative agenda. [..]

Trump can at least hold a pen. As long as congressional Republicans let him strut around taking credit for “getting things done,” he’ll be happy to sign anything they put in front of him. Remember, Donald Trump Jr. reportedly told John Kasich’s aides, as he was trying to recruit the Ohio governor for the ticket, that Kasich would be the most powerful vice president in history, pretty much in charge of everything, because Trump would be busy “making America great again.” He has no interest in getting into the weeds of governing, so he’s happy to sign off on Mike Pence’s dream platform.

So what are Democrats to do with this? It’s already going to be an overwhelming task to fight off Trump’s worst nominees, battle back legislation that’s coming from 20 different directions and expose the mountain of scandals that are quickly piling up. The Trump train wreck is already creating a chain reaction of one explosion after an other.

Nick Mullins: The pain pill epidemic isn’t going anywhere until we end coal’s dominance

Coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, underground bituminous coal miners are three times more likely to suffer serious injuries and illnesses than workers in any other private industry.

Many of those I worked with who were abusing were not “pill heads.” They had weighed a difficult choice: take pain medication to be able to continue to work, or risk fighting for disability compensation that’s seldom enough to pay the bills. Those taking medication on the job were often ashamed of their dependency. In many cases, they avoided working in positions that could get someone hurt. [..]

If a miner does manage to get clean, he still has to work every day with pain. It is a dire situation based on economic dependency, and sadly, it has spread far beyond the mining industry and deep into our local communities.

With recent reports showing that many millions of pain pills have been shipped into Appalachia by pharmaceutical companies, evidence is building that the abuse epidemic is not entirely the fault of the addicted. Not only has Wall Street benefited from the trillions of dollars of coal reserves that have been mined here, but it is also continuing to exploit us, reaping profits from the poverty and human suffering left in the wake of a century of coal extraction.

Lindy West: I’ve left Twitter. It is unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators

I deactivated my Twitter account today. It was more of a spontaneous impulse than a New Year resolution, although it does feel like a juice cleanse, a moulting, a polar-bear plunge, a clean slate (except the opposite – like throwing your slate into a volcano and running). One moment I was brains-deep in the usual way, half-heartedly arguing with strangers about whether or not it’s “OK” to suggest to Steve Martin that calling Carrie Fisher a “beautiful creature” who “turned out” to be “witty and bright as well” veered just a hair beyond Fisher’s stated boundaries regarding objectification (if you have opinions on this, don’t tweet me – oh, wait, you can’t); and the next moment the US president-elect was using the selfsame platform to taunt North Korea about the size and tumescence of its nuclear program. And I realised: eh, I’m done. I could be swimming right now. Or flossing. Or digging a big, pointless pit. Anything else.

Twitter, for the past five years, has been a machine where I put in unpaid work and tension headaches come out. I write jokes there for free. I post political commentary for free. I answer questions for free. I teach feminism 101 for free. Off Twitter, these are all things by which I make my living – in fact, they comprise the totality of my income. But on Twitter, I do them pro bono and, in return, I am micromanaged in real time by strangers; neo-Nazis mine my personal life for vulnerabilities to exploit; and men enjoy unfettered, direct access to my brain so they can inform me, for the thousandth time, that they would gladly rape me if I weren’t so fat.