Feb 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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Paul Krugman: When the Fire Comes

What will you do when terrorists attack, or U.S. friction with some foreign power turns into a military confrontation? I don’t mean in your personal life, where you should keep calm and carry on. I mean politically. Think about it carefully: The fate of the republic may depend on your answer. [..]

After 9/11, the overwhelming public response was to rally around the commander in chief. Doubts about the legitimacy of a president who lost the popular vote and was installed by a bare majority on the Supreme Court were swept aside. Unquestioning support for the man in the White House was, many Americans believed, what patriotism demanded. [..]

Unfortunately, the suspension of critical thinking ended as such suspensions usually do — badly. The Bush administration exploited the post-9/11 rush of patriotism to take America into an unrelated war, then used the initial illusion of success in that war to ram through huge tax cuts for the wealthy.

Bad as that was, however, the consequences if Donald Trump finds himself similarly empowered will be incomparably worse.

Trevor Timm: Trump’s terror policies are bad enough now. What about after an attack?

Donald Trump has spent the bulk of his new presidency playing tough in the face of terrorism. Yet pretty much everything he’s proposed, beyond being bigoted in the extreme, shows just how terrified and weak he is – all while putting the country at greater risk. [..]

The idea that the media downplays terror attacks is hard to fathom. For 15 years, terror attacks – and countless terror threats that never materialized – have led to wall-to-wall coverage on television, in print and online. Many times such coverage has led to politicians to implement disturbing policies that would have done nothing to prevent the attacks in the first place and only further restrict the rights of millions of innocent people.

The numbers back up just how undeniably wrong Trump’s claims are: Peter Bergen at CNN calculated that the 78 terrorist attacks the White House claimed were “under-reported” were the subject of 80,000 articles. 80,000!

But what makes Trump’s uneducated musing even more infuriating is that at the same time as he instills fear into the American people about Islamist terrorism – which only does the terrorist’s job for them – he’s going out of his way to create a blind spot inside the US government for an arguably greater threat: terrorism committed by white nationalist, far-right groups.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: We Have Not Yet Begun To Fight Tom Price

Just because the Senate voted to make Tom Price the nation’s top health care official doesn’t mean that the debate surrounding his nomination should end.

This fight is just beginning.

The Senate confirmed Price as secretary of Health and Human Services in the middle of the night in a straight 52-47 vote along party lines. He was a deeply flawed nominee. Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, who is an attorney, reviewed his ethics and the legality of his actions in an post headlined, “Should Tom Price Be in Jail for Insider Trading?” PBS noted, somewhat more delicately, that Price has “shown little restraint in his personal stock trading.”

But Price is not just ethically challenged. He is also ideologically charged. His policy views place him on the extreme right of health care debates.

Norman Solomon: The Long Road To Impeach Trump Just Got Shorter

The momentum to impeach President Trump is accelerating.

On Thursday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) filed a “resolution of inquiry” that amounts to the first legislative step toward impeachment. [..]

Under the Trump presidency, defending a wide range of past gains is both necessary and insufficient. Fighting for impeachment is a way to go on the offensive, directly challenging the huge corruption that Trump has brought to the White House.

From the outset, President Trump has been violating (pdf) two provisions of the U.S. Constitution — its foreign and domestic “emoluments” clauses. In a nutshell, both clauses forbid personally profiting from presidential service beyond receiving a government salary.

Amanda Marcotte: Will Jeff Sessions protect abortion clinics? Providers worry anti-choice A.G. will make their jobs more dangerous

The confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general has widespread ramifications that are genuinely hard to wrap one’s mind around. Most of the attention has rightly been paid to Sessions’s unsavory history when it comes to racial issues, such as his history of undermining black Americans’ voting rights or his longstanding hostility toward nonwhite immigrants.

But another group of Americans are sounding the alarm over the Sessions confirmation: Abortion providers, who are worried about whether the new attorney general will protect the safety of clinic workers and patients.

Terrorizing abortion clinics is a federal crime, which means that it’s up to the Department of Justice to handle it. Unfortunately that means that Sessions, who is deeply anti-choice, will be in charge of enforcing the laws that protect clinics and their patients.