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Feb 24 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; Death and Tax Cuts

Across the country, Republicans have been facing crowds demanding to know how they will protect the 20 million Americans who gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and will lose it if the act is repealed. And after all that inveighing against the evils of Obamacare, it turns out that they’ve got nothing.

Instead, they’re talking about freedom — which these days is the real refuge of scoundrels.

Actually, many prominent Republicans haven’t even gotten to the point of trying to respond to criticism; they’re just whining about how mean their constituents are being, and invoking conspiracy theories. Talk about snowflakes who can dish it out but can’t take it! [..]

But perhaps the saddest spectacle is that of Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, whom the media have for years portrayed as a serious, honest conservative, a deep thinker about how to reform America’s safety net. That reputation was never justified; still, even those of us who long ago recognized him as a flimflammer have been struck by his utter failure to rise to this occasion.

After years to prepare, Mr. Ryan finally unveiled what was supposedly the outline of a health care plan. It was basically a sick joke: flat tax credits, unrelated to income, that could be applied to the purchase of insurance.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Trump, Democrats, And The ‘Deep State’: 11 Principles

Putin’s an oligarch. So is Trump.

Putin runs a kleptocracy. So does Trump.

Both Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson have done business in Russia.

So why is money the one aspect of the Russia scandal people seem to talk about the least? Maybe because it’s the one area the U.S. intelligence community avoided when it accused Russia of helping Trump win the election.

The Russia story has raised the intelligence community’s popularity among Democrats and offered a convenient distraction from other national security stories. While many people were fixated on it, for example, this New York Times story by Charlie Savage was largely overlooked:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections … far more officials will be searching through raw data.

Here are 11 principles progressives can follow when they hear about (or talk about) Trump and Russia.

Evan Greer: Trump is bullying transgender kids because he thinks he can get away with it

The Trump administration is bullying children now. In a vindictive move, the departments of justice and education just shredded federal guidelines that instructed public schools how best to protect transgender students from discrimination. Specifically, the guidance they revoked made it clear that Title IX – the landmark law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions – requires schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The attack highlights the importance of an expected supreme court decision on the issue, but it should also serve as a wake-up call to the mainstream LGBTQ rights movement, which for decades has failed to listen to and address the issues facing the most marginalized members of the queer community.
Trump administration rescinds Obama-era protections for transgender students
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From Ice raids to Standing Rock, this administration has made it clear that it intends to target the most vulnerable while twisting words and facts to claim that its policies are not based in bigotry. It’s no coincidence that Donald Trump invited Caitlyn Jenner – unquestionably one of the wealthiest and most powerful LGBTQ people on earth – to his inauguration, and then turned around and lashed out at transgender kids during his first weeks in office.

Four Arrows: Standing Rock Lives on as a Model for Peaceful Resistance

Police have now taken full control of the Oceti Sakowin Camp, following an hours-long siege today at Standing Rock. A number of Water Protectors were forced to flee en masse across the Cannonball River to escape a running advance by heavily armed police. It is unclear at this time how many Water Protectors have been arrested.

Today’s raid came on the heels of additional forced evacuations yesterday in Standing Rock. Around 150 police from several states mobilized against the Water Protectors yesterday on Highway 1806 in South Dakota and forced a large number of people to evacuate from Standing Rock, using the threat of force. Police also rushed the crowd on 1806, brutalizing at least one person, and carried out multiple “snatch and grab” arrests. [..]

What happened on February 22 and 23 in Standing Rock must be shared far and wide via the videos and live streams of the independent press. It should rally us to counter the growing totalitarianism and increasing willful destruction of the environment. We must continue the wisdom, determination and courage that will continue with the Standing Rock movement. As Kelly Hayes writes, Standing Rock’s “last stand, and ours, has yet to come.” Standing Rock continues. Please join the movement. We are all Indigenous to Mother Earth. We are connected intrinsically to rivers, trees, rocks and all the creatures in relationship with us as we are to one another. With this in mind, we can make way for the seventh generation. Even when our own struggles seem overwhelming, we must remember the power of heartfelt prayers and love — like the love modeled at Standing Rock — that flows like a river.

Randall J. Stephens: Richard Nixon’s authoritarian loathing of the media lives on in Donald Trump

When things go wrong for the president, his administration in crisis mode and his approval rating down to a weekly average of 41%, he turns to the press, anger in his eyes. He pleads, cajoles, or mocks. That could describe either Donald J. Trump or Richard M. Nixon. Two men who needed the media and courted its favour, but who can’t and couldn’t resist denouncing and vilifying it in the harshest terms.  [..]

It was like watching a snake eat itself. The circuitous sentences and close-looped, vague arguments sounded like a nightmare version of Donald Rumsfeld’s accidental Zen poetry: “There are known knowns. There are things we know we know.” But nonsense though it is, this all plays wonderfully to Trump’s base. The president is stoking red-hot antipathy to the mainstream media for his own ends, and it seems to be working.

A September 2016 Gallup Poll showed that only 14% of self-identified Republicans surveyed thought the mass media was trustworthy, as opposed to 51% of Democrats. This wasn’t always the case; in 2002, 49% of Republicans trusted the mass media. Some of Trump’s predecessors would have been relieved to see those numbers – and none more so than the ignominious Richard Nixon.