Jul 06 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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Yanis Varoufakis: A New Deal for the 21st Century

The recent elections in France and Britain have confirmed the political establishment’s simultaneous vulnerability and vigor in the face of a nationalist insurgency. This contradiction is the motif of the moment — personified by the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, whose résumé made him a darling of the elites but who rode a wave of anti-establishment enthusiasm to power.

A similar paradox is visible in Britain in the surprising electoral success of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in depriving Theresa May’s Conservatives of an outright governing majority — not least because the resulting hung Parliament seemingly gives the establishment some hope of a change in approach from Mrs. May’s initial recalcitrant stance toward the European Union on the Brexit negotiations that have just begun.

Outsiders are having a field day almost everywhere in the West — not necessarily in a manner that weakens the insiders, but neither also in a way that helps consolidate the insiders’ position. The result is a situation in which the political establishment’s once unassailable authority has died, but before any credible replacement has been born. The cloud of uncertainty and volatility that envelops us today is the product of this gap.

Jill Abramson: Billionaires dream of immortality. The rest of us worry about healthcare

Last week, as the Senate was still trying to deny healthcare to 22 million fellow Americans, a friend asked me whether I would choose to live forever if I could. We were discussing Silicon Valley billionaires and their investments in new biotechnologies that they hope will enable them to do what no human has ever done: cheat death. The technology includes some dubious treatments, such as being pumped with the blood of much younger people.

Both of us agreed we do not wish for immortality, though we are both extremely happy with our lives and healthy. Wanting to live forever is fundamentally selfish. It’s obvious why immortality appeals to billionaires such as Peter Thiel. It obviously wouldn’t to the millions in the US who won’t have health insurance if the Republicans pull out the vote on their bill.

Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder who is a friend of Trump, is one of the Immortalists. Lucky that he will never run out of money, especially since the Senate’s version of repeal-and-replace Obamacare is such a generous giveaway to the billionaire class.

Richard Eskow: Why We Need to Know What Trump Says Behind Closed Doors

When I’m not writing for OurFuture, I host a weekly news and opinion program on syndicated radio and cable TV called The Zero Hour. My team there recently faced a major challenge  when we received a secret recording of Donald Trump’s remarks to a closed-door, $35,000-a-head fundraiser.

We decided to release this audio at The Intercept, which also published my analysis of Trump’s remarks. Here’s why.

Trump’s fundraiser was held June 28th at his own Washington, D.C. hotel, which is steps down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion. The Trump Organization leases the building from the federal government, in open violation of long-standing regulations.

The building features a five-story atrium, a restaurant called BLT Prime, and “The Spa by Ivanka Trump™.” In this luxurious setting, Trump held forth for more than forty minutes, mocking his enemies, humiliating his friends, and committing at least one major diplomatic gaffe.

William Rivers Pitt: Sad but True: The Republican Party Somehow Still Exists

Under normal circumstances, in a normal time, on a normal planet, this would be an article about the cataclysmic self-inflicted demise of the Republican Party as a functioning political entity in the United States of America … and if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs. These are not normal circumstances, this is not a normal time and gadzooks, this is not a normal planet.

Consider the facts in hand: The Republicans nominated and then elected a farcical caricature of a buffoon, a vulgarian oaf, a serial liar of Brobdingnagian proportions, a confessed misogynist and serial assaulter of women, a fact-free ignoramus too ego-blinded to recognize how much he doesn’t know, to the highest office in the land. To the surprise of virtually no one, he has bollixed up the job so comprehensively that his approval rating currently hovers somewhere below pig offal, and in five short months he has become the most despised world leader since Caligula.

Jill Richardson: Are We Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

Can we stop pretending that leading Republicans care about anything beyond winning and power?

To be sure, there are some in the party who are guided by conservative “principles.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s been “dreaming” of gutting Medicaid — the program that provides health care to the poorest Americans — since his college days.

No doubt that goal came from some ideological notion of cutting government programs in order to lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, presumably because the poor are “lazy” or “undeserving.”

Trump, for his part, just wants to win. Remember how he promised we’d all be “tired of winning” if he became president?

He didn’t mean we’d “win” by having the best, most comprehensive health care system in the world. Or the best education system in the world. (If he cared one bit about education, he would’ve picked a secretary of education who had any qualifications to hold that job at all. But he didn’t.)

Trump isn’t interested in policy. Trump is interested in Trump.