Aug 08 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: The emerging unholy alliance between hawkish Democrats and neoconservatives

President Trump’s gibes about the failure of our foreign policy establishment and his call for a still rudimentary “America first” policy have led hawkish Republican neoconservatives to close ranks with “indispensable nation” Democrats. A remarkably unrepentant establishment has moved to resistance. If the United States is to avoid the limited choice between the delusional and the disastrous, a new progressive stance on foreign policy is utterly imperative.

The neocons — led by the likes of Bill Kristol, Max Boot and Dick Cheney — were the ideological motor behind President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the worst foreign policy debacle since the Vietnam War. The indispensable-nation crowd — personified by Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Michele Flournoy — were initial supporters of the Iraq War, championed President Barack Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan and helped orchestrate the disastrous regime change in Libya. Neither the neocons nor the indispensable-nation crowd has been instructed nor daunted by failure.

Bill McKibben: The Trump administration’s solution to climate change: ban the term

In a bold new strategy unveiled on Monday in the Guardian, the US Department of Agriculture – guardians of the planet’s richest farmlands – has decided to combat the threat of global warming by forbidding the use of the words.

Under guidance from the agency’s director of soil health, Bianca Moebius-Clune, a list of phrases to be avoided includes “climate change” and “climate change adaptation”, to be replaced by “weather extremes” and “resilience to weather extremes”.

Also blacklisted is the scary locution “reduce greenhouse gases” – and here, the agency’s linguists have done an even better job of camouflage: the new and approved term is “increase nutrient use efficiency”.

The effectiveness of this approach – based on the well-known principle that what you can’t say won’t hurt you – has previously been tested at the state level, making use of the “policy laboratories” provided by America’s federalist system.

Richard North Patterson: What If A President Is Too Impaired To Lead?

Based on his public behavior, ever more psychiatrists assert that Donald Trump is emotionally impaired. In doing so, they raise the gravest of questions: what are the implications of such a judgement?

In essence, these psychiatrists argue that a profound and disabling character disorder is the organizing principle for Trump’s uniquely erratic conduct in office. John Gartner of Johns Hopkins states flatly: “Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.”

To the same effect, three other prominent professors cite Trump’s “grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality… “A letter signed by 40,000-plus mental health professionals invokes the constitutional provision for removing a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Robert Borosage: Democrats Need to Find Their Voice on Tax Reform

After crashing and burning in their quest to repeal Obamacare, Republicans have turned to their perennial passion: corporate and personal tax cuts. President Donald Trump has promised “the biggest tax cut in history,” and the GOP is ready to help him deliver.

According to early outlines of various Republican plans, the party will push for—wait for it—tax cuts skewed to the very rich along with deep cuts in corporate taxes. Trump wants the corporate tax rate to go from a nominal rate of 35 percent to 15 percent.

The Republican sales pitch invokes notions of magical tax-cut created growth, competitiveness, and other fantasies that will supposedly “cover” the cost of the tax cuts—or not. [..]

Democrats, their spines stiffened by massive popular mobilizations, displayed remarkable unity and grit in opposing the Republican push to repeal and replace Obamacare. But how will Democrats respond to this new grotesquerie?

David Leonhsrdt: Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart

Many Americans can’t remember anything other than an economy with skyrocketing inequality, in which living standards for most Americans are stagnating and the rich are pulling away. It feels inevitable.

But it’s not.

A well-known team of inequality researchers — Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman — has been getting some attention recently for a chart it produced. It shows the change in income between 1980 and 2014 for every point on the distribution, and it neatly summarizes the recent soaring of inequality.

The line on the chart (which we have recreated as the red line above) resembles a classic hockey-stick graph. It’s mostly flat and close to zero, before spiking upward at the end. That spike shows that the very affluent, and only the very affluent, have received significant raises in recent decades.