Sep 01 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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Eugene Robinson: The bad news about ‘this Russia thing’ keeps pouring in for Trump

Just so there’s no confusion: Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer emailed Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman? Seeking help from the Kremlin on a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow? During the presidential campaign?

Yes, this really happened. While most attention was rightly focused on the devastating flood in Houston, there was quite a bit of news on the Russia front — all of it, from President Trump’s perspective, quite bad.

The revelations begin with a Trump business associate named Felix Sater . A Russian émigré who bragged about his Kremlin connections, Sater was a principal figure in development of the Trump Soho hotel and condominium project in lower Manhattan. Sater wrote a series of emails to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, touting the Moscow Trump Tower project as a way to help Trump win the presidency.

Catherine Rampell: Republicans have only one idea. And Trump’s pitch for it is a doozy

Republicans have one idea and one idea only: That we should cut taxes for the rich. The only thing that changes is the sales pitch.

And the latest pitch, offered by President Trump on Wednesday, is a bit of a doozy.

Back around 2012, when Mitt Romney was running for president, the pitch was that we wanted to encourage “job creators” (i.e., rich people) to work harder. Their taxes were so high that it simply wasn’t worth it for them to put in that marginal hour at the office, or to build that additional business.

The payoff would be too low, particularly relative to how much money they’d already accumulated. Why bother putting in the extra effort, even if that extra effort might create a job or higher wages for someone else?

Romney was a suitable spokesperson for this argument. He was, after all, a successful businessman who had built and grown lots of companies. He could make a credible case that if people like him were given the choice between working an extra hour and spending that hour golfing, the economy might benefit if he chose the office.

Today, of course, Trump can’t make the same argument with a straight face.

Hank Johnson: President Trump is giving police forces weapons of war. This is dangerous

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.” – James Madison, Constitutional Convention (1787).

Our Founders opposed using a standing army to patrol our streets, and for good reason. While most of America is rightfully focused on the destructive path left in the wake of tropical storm Harvey this week, Donald Trump lifted the ban on certain military-grade weapons and equipment available from the Pentagon to our local police forces across the nation.

Trump’s unwise and ill-considered executive order reopening the floodgates of free surplus military-grade weaponry (as reported on CNN) from war zones across the world straight onto the streets of American cities, towns and university campuses, is the fulfillment of a campaign promise to the law enforcement lobby.

It is not just bad policy – it’s dangerous.

Billy Fleming: The real villains in Harvey flood: urban sprawl and the politicians who allowed it

Houston’s catastrophic flood will be framed by leaders in Texas as an unforeseeable act of God. It isn’t. Houston’s unfettered sprawl into the marshland of southeast Texas was a conscious choice by policymakers. So was building a global city on a slowly submerging swamp. Both were decisions that led to disaster.

Houston has quietly become our fourth largest and fastest-growing city, due in large part to cheap housing. But the latter has come at an exorbitant cost to its safety. The swamps and wetlands that once characterized Houston’s hinterland have been replaced with strip malls and suburban tract homes.

Those landscapes once served as a natural flood protection system for the city. Research shows that, if they hadn’t been filled and developed, Harvey’s impact would have been lessened. Sam Brody and his colleagues at Texas A&M University in Galveston have been predicting an event like this for nearly a decade. That their work went unheeded by Texas policymakers should not be forgotten.