Jun 05 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: Making Ignorance Great Again

I want to devote most of today’s newsletter to a debate that broke out this weekend over the history of the Republican Party’s stance on climate policy, sparked by a Times news story on the subject. I’m going to focus on the underlying issues; you can read social media or the reader-comment section for the back-and-forth about the article.

The big question is why the Republican Party has adopted a position at odds with science and with every other major country (including those run by conservatives).

The basic answer is that the party has become radicalized over the last generation. Its denial of climate science is of a piece with its shutdown of the government; an unprecedented refusal to fill a Supreme Court seat; efforts to prevent American citizens from voting; abandonment of fiscal conservatism; attempts to take health insurance away; and the nomination of Donald Trump, among many other things.

Exactly why the party has been radicalized — rather than remaining a conservative governing party — is not a simple story, and certainly not one I’ll try to cover this morning. But it is the central answer to the climate question, undramatic as it may be. There was no aha! moment on climate that, if only it had gone a little differently, would have meant that the Republican Party would have a different position on

Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Incredible Shrinking America

My whole life I have taken for granted America’s leadership in the world. America’s might and majesty were cornerstones of international relations, cooperation and diplomacy. We were a beacon and balance to the world. America has been imperfect — sometimes disastrously so — but it always seemed to me bent toward the belief that America and the world could be made more perfect.

Well, that time has come to a close. America is exiting the world stage. Donald Trump is drawing the curtains.

Trump has had, and continues to have, an unhealthy and inexplicable admiration for the world’s strongmen, dictators and authoritarian regimes — Russia and Vladimir Putin stand out among the rest — while simultaneously chiding and chastising America’s traditional allies and those countries’ leaders. [..]

From the way Trump has treated America’s neighbors — Mexico about immigrants and the financing of his ridiculous wall, Canada over trade practices on energy, lumber and dairy (he called policies surrounding dairy trade “a disgrace”) — to the way he has treated our friends in Europe, Trump is singlehandedly ushering in a new era of American decline.

Lucia Graves: Why Trump’s attempt to pit Pittsburgh against Paris is absurd

Donald Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement was always going to be an exercise in idiocy. But he unwittingly brought it to new heights Thursday, when he chose exactly the wrong city to be the face of his disastrous decision.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh,” he said, “not Paris.”

Cities don’t speak but the numbers do, and the numbers say that Trump is full of it.

More than 75% of Pittsburgh voters backed Hillary Clinton. Having revitalized itself from a coal and steel-based economy, its renewable energy industry is now a major employer, providing an estimated 13,000 jobs. The editorial board of its flagship paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has laid out in no uncertain terms how leaving the global agreement would hurt the US. And the city’s Mayor Bill Peduto, long an outspoken supporter of the global agreement, was actually in Paris in 2015 when the accord was drafted.

Naomi Oreskes: The Republican party – not Trump – is the biggest obstacle to climate action

As America and the world attempt to fathom the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, most of us are blaming Donald Trump. On one level this is obviously correct. During the presidential election campaign, Trump pledged, if elected, to pull the US out of the accord; he has now made good on that pledge. Withdrawal from the Paris agreement is also consistent with his belligerent personality and isolationist approach to foreign policy. Yet there is a larger context that needs to be understood if we are to find a way forward.

The fact is, Republicans have been resisting action on climate change for just about as long as scientists have been asking the world to do something about it. In 1992, George HW Bush signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pledging to translate the written document into “concrete action to protect the planet”.

He did this – along with other world leaders – because the scientific community had already made clear that anthropogenic interference in the climate system represented a serious threat to our future health, wellbeing and prosperity.

Robert Kuttner: Waiting For Lefty: The Deeper Meaning Of Corbyn And Brexit

British journalists, pollsters and political strategists are struggling to interpret Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning rise in the pre-election polls. Corbyn, at 68, and a proud leader of Britain’s left, had been dismissed by British elites as a hopeless case.

Corbyn had become Labour Party leader only because of a change in the Party rules that inadvertently gave the decision to grassroots radicals―who can pay a few pounds, join the Party and cast votes to select a leader with the consent of only a minority of Labour MPs.

The Parliamentary Labour Party used to select the Leader. Today it’s filled with centrist followers of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, most of whom opposed Corbyn.

In April, when Prime Minister Theresa May called a June snap election in hopes of increasing her Conservative majority in the House of Commons, now just 17 seats, polls showed Labour 24 points behind the Tories, and poised to lose dozens of seats.

Now, with the June 8 election just days away, Corbyn has surged to within a few points of May. To a visiting American journalist, the election feels like a cross between Sanders versus Clinton and Clinton versus Trump.