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Jan 10 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Where’s the GOP’s health-care plan?

For six years, Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “Repeal and replace” was a staple of Donald Trump’s stump speech. Give us control, Republicans promised, and what Mike Pence promises as the “first order of business” will be repeal and replace.

Only one problem: There is no plan. Republicans have hundreds of ideas but no replacement plan and no consensus. So now the same politicians who couldn’t come up with a serious plan in six years are considering a new idea: repeal now and replace later. Use the arcane rules of a “reconciliation” bill to push through repeal; replacement plan to come later. Promise. Trust us, they say, we’ll come up with something in a few months, or a couple of years, with a “few bumps along the way,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said . (“Bumps” is a euphemism for sick Americans losing health care, giving new meaning to the phrase “road kill.”)

This isn’t just harebrained and irresponsible; it is immoral. Twenty million Americans have gained health coverage under Obamacare. Young adults are covered under their parents’ plans. People with preexisting conditions have been able to get affordable coverage for the first time. Medicaid has been extended to cover the families of millions of low-wage workers, many of them Trump voters. The rise of health-care costs has slowed due to intricate reforms in the law. The extension of care has been paid for largely by taxes on the rich.

Eugene Robinson: What Trump is really saying in his tweets: I’m weak

Seriously? Is President-elect Donald Trump so thin-skinned that even criticism from Meryl Streep triggers a nasty, over-the-top response? What kind of crybaby have Americans elected as their leader?

“One of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood,” Trump absurdly called the most acclaimed actress of our time, demonstrating that he is no more prepared to become critic in chief than commander in chief.

Are there more important things to think and write about than Trump’s latest Twitter tantrum? Yes and no. Trump threatens to snatch health insurance coverage from millions, enact huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, reverse progress against climate change, destabilize the Western alliance, pick fights with China while cuddling up to Russia — the big-issues list is long and frightening. But I believe it would be foolish not to examine the personality and the psychological makeup of the man who will soon be in the White House.

My view, then, is that we cannot ignore his vitriolic tweet storms. No, we should not let them distract us from other news about the incoming administration. But the Twitter rants offer a glimpse into Trump’s psyche, and it’s not pretty.

Robby Mook: Russia’s D.N.C. Hack Was Only the Start

Imagine the headlines if, in 2015, Russian agents had leapt out of a van at 2 a.m. in Southeast Washington and broken into the Democratic National Committee offices using sophisticated tools and techniques to steal tens of thousands of documents, including the names and Social Security numbers of donors and employees, and confidential memorandums about campaign strategy for the presidential election.

The world would have been aghast. It would have been, people would say, worse than Watergate.

Something similar did, in fact, happen at the D.N.C. two years ago, and it was worse than Watergate. This wasn’t just one party spying on the other; these were hackers under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who were trying to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” according to a report released Friday by the office of the director of national intelligence. But the immediate reaction to the break-in was nothing like what followed Watergate.

That’s because most of us don’t think of hacking as a crime like breaking and entering. Before the D.N.C. break-in, I thought of hacking as a prank by mischievous tech-savvy people to get revenge. When North Koreans hacked Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for making the satire “The Interview,” I was much more disturbed by the embarrassing things the movie executives said in emails to one another than by how easy it was for a dictator to punish critics in the United States. It wasn’t until I lived through the Russian hackings of Democratic staff members and organizations that I realized how dangerous such an attitude could be.

Andrew Rosenthal: Republican Hypocrisy on Trump’s Nominees

The Constitution and American tradition provide lots of ways for a president to exercise executive power.

The president can, for example, create an agenda and propose legislation to Congress to carry it out; appoint cabinet members, with the Senate providing its advice and consent, and use the platform of the presidency to talk to Americans about important issues.

When the modern-day Republicans are in charge of the White House and Congress, of course, law, tradition and principle have little meaning.

Senator Mitch McConnell once said his party’s most important task was to deny Obama a second term. In February 2009, he wrote a letter to Senator Harry Reid, then the majority leader, saying there could be no action on Obama’s nominees pending a long list of demands, including completion of reviews by the Office of Government Ethics. McConnell only escalated when Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014 and by last year he was refusing even to consider any Supreme Court nomination Obama might make.

So how will things be with our new Republican president?

We don’t really know what agenda Donald Trump will pursue, since he didn’t offer anything like a realistic one to voters. He takes office thanks to the obsolete and undemocratic Electoral College, as the second Republican president in a row to be rejected by a substantial majority of voters.

Lucia Graves: Trump could slash civil service pay to $1. Will he use the ‘Armageddon rule’?

Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.

This is a depressing decline in the highest office of the most powerful empire in the history of the world. It could easily produce a pervasive cynicism and poisonous nihilism. Is there really any hope for truth and justice in this decadent time? Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville – the two great public intellectuals of 19th-century America – wrestled with similar questions and reached the same conclusion as Heraclitus: character is destiny (“sow a character and you reap a destiny”).

The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft. We are rooted in market-driven brands that shun integrity and profit-driven policies that trump public goods. Our “post-integrity” and “post-truth” world is suffocated by entertaining brands and money-making activities that have little or nothing to do with truth, integrity or the long-term survival of the planet. We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world