Feb 08 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: It’s time for the Congressional Progressive Caucus to raise its game

A massive people’s uprising is driving the opposition to President Trump. In Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is an emerging center of that resistance. [..]

After all, the CPC’s agenda has been vindicated again and again over the years. It was right to oppose the Iraq War, right to challenge ruinous corporate trade policies and catastrophic banking deregulation, and right to call for a bold green New Deal, with public investment driving economic recovery. Now, the CPC is right to demand progressive tax reform and higher taxes on the rich. It is right to call for Medicare for All and to push to expand, not cut, Social Security. It is right to join workers in championing a $15 minimum wage. It is right to urge an end to bloated defense budgets.

Getting it right, however, is small solace if you can’t get it done. The CPC has had some victories, usually in conjunction with outside movements. Most recently, its members — spearheaded by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) — joined with a broad coalition of citizen groups to help defeat President Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership before Trump ever took office. Too often, though, the CPC and its members have gotten it right but the Democrats have gone the other way.

Heather Digby Parton: Donald Trump’s coming police state: We have a president who wants unlimited power and won’t respect the rule of law

It would appear that some of the folks who were hoping that Donald Trump was actually an isolationist “jobs” president, rather than the authoritarian white nationalist with imperial ambitions he clearly showed himself to be on the stump, are now being forced to face reality. Everything he has done since he was inaugurated proves him to be dead serious about unleashing the military and the police to enact his agenda, and he wants the other branches of government to understand that if they obstruct him he’s going to make sure his rabid followers know who to blame.

According to Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, legal scholars of all stripes, even the torture advocate John Yoo, whom I wrote about on Tuesday, are disturbed by Trump’s executive actions and what he’s saying about them. Pretty much across the board, they anticipate that Trump will blame the courts , the media and the political opposition in the event of an attack. They believe he is anxious to use an attack as an excuse to “take the gloves off” in whatever way he deems necessary.

That could mean everything from registering and deporting Muslims to enhanced surveillance to an attack on a foreign country and the reinstatement of torture and “black site” prisons. (A draft executive order on the black sites has made the rounds already.)  All we know at this point is that Trump is looking for an excuse, and odds are there will be one at some point.

Nanvy Altman: A Vote For Tom Price Is A Vote To Destroy Medicare

No one voted to destroy Medicare. Yet, the first battle in the war over Medicare has arrived.

Why would anyone want to destroy Medicare? It has stood the test of time. The smart policy is to expand it to everyone. Medicare shows government at its best.

Government at its best! There’s the rub: Given Medicare’s proven success — its low administrative costs, its efficient coverage of those with the greatest medical needs and costs, and its enormous popularity — it is no wonder that anti-government zealots hate the program.

Medicare demonstrates that there are some services that the federal government provides better than the private sector. The mere existence of Medicare (and Social Security) puts the lie to the claim that everything should be privatized. For that reason, today’s Republicans, who hate government and want to privatize everything, are determined to end Medicare as we know it.

Gary Younge: Trump fears terrorists, but more Americans are shot dead by toddlers

Shortly before leaving America for Britain, after 12 years as a correspondent, the relative of one of my son’s friends politely declined my invitation to visit us in London.

“I don’t think I could go to Europe,” she said. “It doesn’t seem safe.”

Try as I might I could not suppress a laugh. My wife and children are African American. I am British. We were living in Chicago.

“The odds of you being shot dead here are far greater than of you being killed in a terrorist attack over there.”

When the president uses his executive powers to ban more than 200 million people from entering America, ostensibly in the interests of security, and then, in the same week, the House of Representatives relaxes background checks for gun ownership, one is compelled to question the sense of proportionality when it comes to security. Whom do they intend to keep safe? By what means? And at what price to liberty?

Lawrence Douglas: Why Trump wants to disempower institutions that protect the truth

Donald Trump is hardly the first president to lie. But what distinguishes Trump from previous presidential fibsters are his meta-lies. These claim that the very institutions empowered in a democracy to expose lies are themselves corrupt, dishonest and lying. In spreading his meta-lies, Trump poisons the well of democratic discourse.

The great political thinker Hannah Arendt once dryly observed:“Lies have always been regarded as necessary and justifiable tools … of the statesman’s trade.” Arendt writes that what distinguishes democratic from authoritarian regimes is not the greater honesty of democratic politicians. The saving grace of democracies is the existence of neutral, politically-independent institutions capable of safeguarding truth from the politics of prevarication.

It is precisely these institutions that are the target of Trump’s most persistent lies and calumny.

These institutions – the university, the judiciary and the free press – subject the statements of politicians to truth-testing. In this way, citizens can make informed choices at the polls. Without these institutions – and, just as crucially, without belief in their integrity – democratic self-governance would be impossible.