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Aug 17 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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Charles M. Blow: The Other Inconvenient Truth

Donald Trump chose Trump Tower, the place where he began his presidential campaign, as the place to plunge a dagger into his presidency.

Trump’s jaw-dropping defense of white supremacists, white nationalists and Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., exposed once more what many of us have been howling into the wind since he emerged as a viable candidate: That he is a bigot, a buffoon and a bully.

He has done nothing since his election to disabuse us of this notion and everything to confirm it. Anyone expressing surprise is luxuriating in a self-crafted shell of ignorance.

And yet, it seems too simplistic, too convenient, to castigate only Trump for elevating these vile racists. To do so would be historical fallacy. Yes, Trump’s comments give them a boost, grant them permission, provide them validation, but it is also the Republican Party through which Trump burst that has been courting, coddling and accommodating these people for decades. Trump is an articulation of the racists in Charlottesville and they are an articulation of him, and both are a logical extension of a party that has too often refused to rebuke them.

Trevor Timm: Did you visit this anti-Trump site? The US government wants your IP address

In an unprecedented and dangerous move, Donald Trump’s justice department is threatening to violate the first and fourth amendment rights of over a million people by issuing an overboard surveillance request aimed at identifying alleged anti-Trump protesters.

The justice department is demanding that web hosting provider DreamHost hand over, among many other things, 1.3m IP addresses – essentially everyone who has ever visited an anti-Trump protest site called disruptj20.org that was organizing protests surrounding Trump inauguration in January.

Dream Host revealed the surveillance demand on Monday on their blog, also saying they were going to court to challenge the order. Dream Host called it “a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority” and explained that the “information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution”.

Richard Wolffe: The president of the United States is now a neo-Nazi sympathiser

Donald Trump the neo-Nazi sympathizer has achieved what Donald Trump the president has singularly failed to do: unite the nation.

An immensely fractured country – riven by race, class, culture and politics – finds itself transfixed by one grotesque display of empathy for violent racists. These are the same violent racists whom White House aides previously called, in remarks that Trump read out loudly and very carefully: “Criminals and thugs.”

But that was so Monday. One short day later, the leader of the nation – that daily proclaims its commitment to liberty and justice for all – declared there were “very fine people” in Charlottesville, who simply joined a neo-Nazi rally to protest about a statue.

Dean Baker: Ten Years After Financial Crisis, Our Elites Have Learned Nothing

Last week, I heard BBC announce the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the financial crisis. This is dated to the decision by the French bank BNP Paribas to prohibit withdrawals from two hedge funds that were heavily invested in subprime mortgage backed securities. According to BBC, this was when lending began to freeze and house prices began to fall.

The problem with BBC’s story is that house prices had already been falling for more than a year. While the nationwide decline was still relatively modest, around 4 percent, the drop in many of the most active markets was more than 10 percent.

This was the reason that the mortgage-backed securities in the Paribas hedge funds had plunged in value. When people bought homes with zero or near zero down, and the price dropped by 10 percent (and was falling rapidly), the mortgages suddenly did not look like very good investments.

Leo W. Gerard: No More Trickle-Down Trade Deals

Free trade be damned.

People don’t need any more free trade. They need jobs. And not just any jobs. They need good jobs with living wages and decent benefits.

That’s what negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico must prioritize as they begin talks today to rewrite the reviled and failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiators must focus on improving the lives of people, not boosting the profits of corporations.

NAFTA betrayed the citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico because it was based on the same servility to the rich that trickle-down economics was. Under trickle-down, the wealthy and corporations got the biggest, fattest tax cuts. Everyone else supposedly was to benefit somehow someday. A microscopic pinch of the immense monetary gift granted to the high and mighty was supposed to magically appear in everyone else’s pockets. It never did.