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Jun 20 2017

Ponderng 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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Dean Baker: The Republican Thieves Who Stole Health Care

In their desperation to provide $600 billion in tax cuts to their rich campaign contributors, the Republicans have decided to abandon all the standard rules by which Congress has governed itself. The actions might seem extraordinary, but we know how desperately the richest people in the country need tax cuts, so who can complain if the normal procedures are not being followed?

Unfortunately the debate over the “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare is being confused with a debate over health care. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate don’t give a damn about health care. This is about getting $600 billion in tax cuts for the people who pay for their campaigns and will offer them jobs as high paid lobbyists when they leave office. The fact that the tax cuts are associated with health care for tens of millions of people is just a coincidence.

David Leonhardt: If Liberals Voted …

If liberals voted at the same rate as conservatives, Hillary Clinton would be president. Even with Donald Trump’s working-class appeal, Clinton could have swept Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. [..]

On Tuesday, the northern suburbs of Atlanta will hold the country’s most significant election since Trump’s victory. It’s a special election in a conservative-leaning district once represented by Newt Gingrich and until recently by Tom Price, an architect of a health care plan that would take insurance from millions.

Special elections aren’t normal. They can attract far more attention and money than a typical House race does, and the Georgia race has. Yet it nonetheless offers a tantalizing lesson for Democrats.

Robert Reich: Government By and For Trump

Last Monday, the White House invited reporters in to watch what was billed as a meeting of Trump’s Cabinet. After Trump spoke, he asked each of the Cabinet members around the table to briefly comment.

Their statements were what you might expect from toadies surrounding a two-bit dictator.

“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda,” said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. “Greatest privilege of my life, to serve as vice president to a president who’s keeping his word to the American people,” said Vice President Mike Pence.

When I was sworn in as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, I took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I didn’t pledge loyalty to Bill Clinton, and I wouldn’t have participated in such a fawning display.

That oath is a pledge of loyalty to our system of government – not to a powerful individual. It puts integrity before personal loyalty. It’s what it means to have a government of laws.

Michelangelo Signorile: Rep. Steve Scalise’s Life Was Saved By A Black Queer Woman. Here’s Why That Matters.

Several GOP members of Congress who were targeted in a horrific act of gun violence at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, last week agree that if not for the Capitol Police, who stopped the gunman (who later died from gunshot wounds), many among them and their aides might be dead.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), the House Majority Whip, was critically wounded and, thankfully, his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious, as he continues to recover. [.]

After we learned more about the officers, including the fact that Griner is an African-American woman who is married to a woman, actress Martha Plimpton was among many who took note, [..]

But it’s not only Scalise’s own voting record, which demonizes and jeopardizes the rights of people like Crystal Griner, American heroes, that warrants pointing out some basic facts about an officer who saved him. It’s the ugly hypocrisy of religious conservatives like those at CBN, a platform for Robertson, who has said the most grotesque and defamatory things about LGBTQ people imaginable, that is astounding.

Ali H. Soufan: Can You Kill the Islamic State?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the self-described Islamic State, might have been killed. Again.

In announcing last week the airstrike that may have felled the Islamic State’s leader, Russia wisely hedged its bets. If Mr. Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, though, this would be a positive development. The resulting leadership vacuum, and the scramble to fill it, would no doubt hasten the coming disintegration of the Islamic State. In truth, however, the handwriting was on the wall long before last week’s announcement.

From its inception, the Islamic State’s real power resided not in religious extremists like Mr. Baghdadi but in a corps of former Saddam Hussein loyalists behind the scenes who had linked up with convicted jihadists when they were together in American-run prisons in the mid-2000s. These ex-Baathists, with a talent for eye-catching violence and unsurpassed knowledge of the inner workings of Iraqi society, kept the Islamic State alive through lean years before leading it to sweeping victories following the American departure from Iraq.

Now almost all of the ex-Baathist leaders are dead, as are most of their immediate lieutenants. This represents a key difference between the Islamic State today and Al Qaeda in 2011: When Osama bin Laden died, many of his deputies were around to keep the organization running.