Oct 05 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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Jimmy Carter: What I’ve learned from North Korea’s leaders

As the world knows, we face the strong possibility of another Korean war, with potentially devastating consequences to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, our outlying territories in the Pacific and perhaps the mainland of the United States. This is the most serious existing threat to world peace, and it is imperative that Pyongyang and Washington find some way to ease the escalating tension and reach a lasting, peaceful agreement.

Over more than 20 years, I have spent many hours in discussions with top North Korean officials and private citizens during visits to Pyongyang and to the countryside. I found Kim Il Sung (their “Great Leader”), Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and other leaders to be both completely rational and dedicated to the preservation of their regime.

What the officials have always demanded is direct talks with the United States, leading to a permanent peace treaty to replace the still-prevailing 1953 cease-fire that has failed to end the Korean conflict. They want an end to sanctions, a guarantee that there will be no military attack on a peaceful North Korea, and eventual normal relations between their country and the international community.

E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann: Why the majority keeps losing on guns

Why does our political system make it impossible even to consider solutions to gun violence? After the massacre in Las Vegas that has so far taken nearly 60 lives and left more than 500 injured, the first reaction of the many politicians who carry water for the gun lobby was to declare it “premature” to discuss measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

The “premature” word echoed from President Trump’s White House on down, and those who used it were really saying that Congress would never enact even modest efforts to prevent mass shootings. This is damning evidence of the stranglehold that far-right lobbies have on today’s Republicans, who extol law and order except when maintaining it requires confronting the National Rifle Association.

But something else is at work here. As we argue in our book, “One Nation After Trump,” the United States is now a non-majoritarian democracy. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, that’s because it is. Claims that our republic is democratic are undermined by a system that vastly overrepresents the interests of rural areas and small states. This leaves the large share of Americans in metropolitan areas with limited influence over national policy. Nowhere is the imbalance more dramatic or destructive than on the issue of gun control.

Susanne Ramirez de Arellano: Trump came to Puerto Rico like an emperor: with pomp and little sympathy

President Donald Trump arrived in Puerto Rico like an emperor, coming to scold his uncooperative subjects. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said during a visit to the island on Tuesday. He might as well have blamed us for throwing ourselves in the path of a hurricane.

Apart from the cost, the worst part about this catastrophe for Trump seems to be how damn ungrateful these Puerto Ricans are. The president called the mayor of San Juan, the capital, a “politically motivated ingrate” over the weekend. Then, on Tuesday, he suggested the island was exaggerating its woes. Puerto Rico isn’t facing “a real catastrophe like Katrina” the president said. Just grow up and stop all your whining, in other words.

Trump arrived on the island more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. Despite what he claims, the situation is still devastating. Only 5% of the electrical grid has been repaired; only 17% of the cellphone towers are working and more than half the island has no running water. Most of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million citizens have to stand every day in hellish lines for food, water, gas and medicines. This is the new normal for us and our families.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: How Do You Say MAGA In German?

Germany’s recent election results are alarming to many, as they mark a strong return of the extreme right, which now enters Germany’s Bundestag, or federal parliament, as the country’s third-strongest political group.

But a deeper global phenomenon is at work, and it has implications for the American future. The political phenomenon known as “centrism,” whose policies reflect the worldview of long-entrenched global and political elites, is collapsing. The question now is what – and who – will take its place?

Angela Merkel and her ruling Christian Democratic Union Party have returned to power for a fourth term in Germany, but they made a far weaker showing than expected. Merkel’s party had its worst electoral performance since 1949. Meanwhile, the far-right AfD or Alternative for Germany (did someone say “alt-right”?) did much better than predicted, with 12.6 percent of the vote.

The neofascist AfD features an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant message with calls for “negative immigration” and a ban on headscarves, as well as the return of some language not heard in politics since Hitler’s time.

Richard Wolffe: Mourn the Las Vegas shooting, we’re told. But don’t ask why it happened

After the Las Vegas massacre, we’re told we cannot talk about politics. At times of public mourning, we must maintain some dignity that is otherwise entirely absent from our politics: we must pray, reflect on the nature of evil, but never debate what to do next.

Because what we’ll do next is mourn the next mass murder in the United States.

There is a strange exclusion zone around white gun violence by second amendment fanatics. Mass murder by Muslims (or foreigners who may have come from majority Muslim countries) is not subject to the same kind of hushed grieving. Gang warfare in Chicago receives no such respect.

And to be clear, a white liberal gunman – as Stephen Paddock was initially rumored to be, at least by some on the far right – would prompt no outpourings of concern about human nature and the need for national unity.

At this time, we must suspend our sense of moral outrage, our deep concern for public safety, and frankly our incredulity when we hear this White House respond to a gun rampage that left hundreds wounded and at least 59 dead.