Jan 13 2017

Pondering the Pundit

“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: Donald Trump’s Medical Delusions

Thanks, Comey.

The Justice Department’s inspector general is now investigating the way the F.B.I. director conveyed the false impression of an emerging Clinton scandal just days before the election, even as he said nothing about ongoing investigations into Russian intervention and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. That action very probably installed Donald Trump in the White House. And it’s already obvious that the incoming commander in chief will be a walking, tweeting ethical disaster.

On the other hand, he’s also dangerously delusional about policy.

Some Republicans appear to be realizing that their long con on Obamacare has reached its limit. Chanting “repeal and replace” may have worked as a political strategy, but coming up with a conservative replacement for the Affordable Care Act — one that doesn’t take away coverage from tens of millions of Americans — isn’t easy. In fact, it’s impossible.

Trevor Timm: Rudy Giuliani is an absurd choice to defend the US from hackers

At Donald Trump’s now-notorious press conference on Tuesday, lost amidst his threats to news organizations and denunciations of his enemies, the president-elect claimed he would soon assemble “some of the greatest computer minds anywhere in the world” to tackle the US government’s cybersecurity problem. On Thursday, he went the opposite route instead and hired Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani, Trump election surrogate and the disgraced former mayor of New York, is apparently going to head up Trump’s efforts to coordinate “cybersecurity” issues between the federal government and the private sector, the transition team announced Tuesday. But what does Giuliani, last seen on the campaign trail claiming the president can break whatever law he likes in a time of war, know about cybersecurity? From the look and sound of it, not much.

Giuliani does head a consulting firm in New York called Giuliani Partners that supposedly focuses on cybersecurity, but Vice’s Motherboard reported yesterday, it’s tough to tell what they actually do, and it’s even tougher to tell what Giuliani does for them, besides being the face of the operation while saying outrageous things on television.

Celine Grounder: Trump’s vaccine conspiracy theories are a threat to your children

This week, vaccine skeptic Robert F Kennedy Jr announced that he’d been nominated by President Elect Donald Trump to chair a commission on vaccine safety. A few hours later, the transition team issued a statement saying that that Trump was “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on autism”. Last summer, Trump met with Andrew Wakefield, who lost his medical license and was found to have produced fraudulent research linking vaccines to autism. Whether Trump is creating a commission on vaccine safety or autism, the message is clear. Trump is offering prominent support to the conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism.

The science on vaccines is very clear: they are safe and effective. Vaccines do not cause autism. It’s a waste of our tax dollars to rehash this issue yet again. Vaccines are one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. Let’s consider measles, just one of many vaccine-preventable diseases. Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became widely available, 3-4 million Americans got measles each year, of whom 48,000 were hospitalized, 4000 developed encephalitis resulting in long-term brain damage, and 4-500 died. The country’s population has almost doubled since that time.

Heather Digby Parton: Meet Mike Pompeo, the far-right Christian zealot with Islamophobe ties who will lead Trump’s CIA

One of the many side stories that has been lost in the chaos of the Trump transition is the fact that far-right Islamophobe Frank Gaffney has been serving as a foreign policy adviser. Considering President-elect Donald Trump’s views about Muslims, this isn’t too surprising.

Trump’s shallow understanding of the issue of Islamist extremism has obviously been gleaned from the right-wing fever swamps and Gaffney owns that end of the bog. (The Southern Poverty Law Center has posted a full Gaffney dossier.)

But with all the excitement over Trump’s various mounting scandals, Gaffney’s influence has flown under the radar, at least until this week. That’s when one of his close associates went to Capitol Hill to testify at his CIA director confirmation hearing. That’s right, Trump’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, is a Gaffney guy. [..]

Pompeo is a deeply conservative evangelical Christian who has said, “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” He believes politics is “a never-ending struggle . . . until the rapture.”

He does not sound like the type of person one normally associates with the intelligence community. But this is Trump’s administration, and Trump has promised to shake things up. An apocalyptic Islamophobic fanatic at the head of CIA will no doubt bring change to the agency.

Eric Swalwell: We need an independent commission on Russia hacking now

Our democracy was attacked in 2016’s presidential election. Now it’s up to our country’s leaders to name who was responsible, find out how we were so vulnerable, and stand together – as Democrats and Republicans – to show we will do all we can to ensure we are secure going forward.

This attack came without a shot fired or a bomb dropped; instead, America’s longstanding tradition of having free and fair elections was hacked by a foreign actor, with all evidence indicating Russia’s responsibility. The attack was electronic, almost invisible.

But to just chalk this up to information-era antics, or to shrug it off because the attack helped the candidate of your choice, is to deem this behavior acceptable – and to cede control of our future elections to the most aggressive meddlers.

The American people were loud and clear in this election that the economy is the most important issue facing our country. But owning and bettering our economy depends on our ability to own and better our democracy, and to ensure our dialogue always belongs to us.