May 23 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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Howard Dean: What’s The Senate To Do With The House Health Care Legislation?

The party in power often overreaches. House Republicans did just that when they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a flawed alternative that threatens the health coverage of millions of Americans.

The Republicans’ replacement would make insurance more expensive for most seniors, limit federal assistance to those middle-income families who struggle the most to pay for coverage and give states the ability to cover fewer people under Medicaid.

Instead of threatening coverage for those Americans who need to most help securing health insurance, Republicans would have been smarter to fix some of the obvious flaws in the Affordable Care Act. And Democrats would have been just as wise to join them. [..]

Democrats should do everything in their power to prevent the president and his Republican allies in Congress from repealing the Affordable Care Act – even if that means agreeing to changes that will strengthen the program for Americans who depend on government health care programs.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Trump escalates war on women

“I just want to state some facts,” Deja Foxx, a 16-year-old activist, told Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) at a town hall meeting in April. “I’m a young woman, and you’re a middle-aged man. I’m a person of color, and you’re white. I come from a background of poverty, and I didn’t always have parents to guide me through life. You come from privilege, so I’m wondering, as a Planned Parenthood patient and someone who relies on Title X, who you are clearly not, why it’s your right to take away my right to choose Planned Parenthood.”

The confrontation, which went viral, occurred on the same day that President Trump signed a law allowing states to deny Title X family planning funds to health clinics that offer abortions. Flake supported the bill, along with 49 other Senate Republicans. With two Republican women breaking ranks, Vice President Pence cast the tiebreaking vote to force the bill through. As Foxx explained to Flake, the care she receives at Planned Parenthood is helping her take charge of her future and achieve the American dream. “I can’t sit idly by while women like me are countlessly and constantly being ignored on Capitol Hill,” she said in an interview after the exchange.

Richard Painter and Norman Eisen: The White House may claim Mueller has conflicts of interest. That’s ridiculous.

All of a sudden, it seems, the Trump White House cares about conflicts of interest — even where they don’t exist.

For months, the administration has ignored conflicts of interest on a grand scale. The watchdog organization we help lead has documented dozens, capped by the president’s own insistence that by virtue of his office he cannot have conflicts of interest.

But now the White House and its allies may be preparing to claim that former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III has conflicts of interest that prevent him from assuming his role as special counsel in the Trump-Russia investigation. Like so many of their other ethics claims, this one does not hold up. [..]

These attacks on Mueller are instances in which ethics is being turned on its head — not to protect the integrity of government but to undermine it. That cannot be allowed to succeed.

David Leonhardt: It’s Time to Worry about Health Care in the Senate

While the rest of the country has been transfixed by Trumpian chaos, members of the Senate have spent the last two weeks talking about taking health insurance from millions of Americans.

There is an alarmingly large chance that they’ll decide to do so. But if they do, they will almost certainly rely on a political sleight of hand to disguise their bill’s damage. Understanding that sleight of hand — and calling attention to it — offers the best hope for defeating the bill.

The effort to take health insurance from the middle class and poor and funnel the savings into tax cuts for the rich is a little like mold. It grows best in the dark.

That’s why Republican leaders in the House handled their bill as they did. They did not hold a single hearing, because they knew that attention would have been devastating.

Heather Digby Parton: Is Donald Trump’s casino empire linked to money laundering? Past financial crimes may be the president’s biggest problem

So Donald Trump screwed the pooch again. This time the president did it on camera, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he made a point of quieting the room and addressing reporters to say this out of the blue:

Just so you understand, I never mentioned it, the word or the name Israel. I never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.

He was referring, of course, to his infamous May 10 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House, the one in which he gave away sensitive foreign intelligence and explained to his guests that he’d gotten rid of that pesky little problem he had with Jim Comey. Although there has been some reporting that the original information came from Israeli intelligence, no one has ever claimed Trump told the Russians that. In fact, national security adviser H.R. McMaster had gone to great lengths to explain that Trump had no idea where the information came from. So this was simultaneously a confirmation of reporting that Israel was the source and a confirmation that all classified information should be kept far away from President Trump. [..]

But there have been a few stories over the past several days that may have Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner feeling a bit more nervous than usual. Last Friday among the cascading breaking news, one factoid was mostly overlooked in the big Washington Post story reporting that the Russia investigation had expanded to include a member of the White House staff who is close to the president: