Oct 13 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: Abandoning Puerto Rico would be an impeachable offense

More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico is still in the dark, more than a third of its residents still have no clean drinking water, much of the island’s infrastructure still lies in ruins — and President Trump cruelly threatens to cut off federal aid. Doing so would be government by spite and should be considered an impeachable offense.

Puerto Rico, as any fifth-grader knows, is part of the America that Trump promises to make great again. But the mayor of San Juan had the temerity to criticize the Trump administration’s response to the calamity of Hurricane Maria as slow and inadequate. For Trump, everything is always all about Trump. He desperately craves adulation.

The president complained Sunday on Twitter, “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!” Note the use of “I” instead of “we” or even “my administration.” For the record, what Trump has done personally for the people of Puerto Rico is playfully toss rolls of paper towels into a crowd.

Dianne Weinstein: Republicans in Congress are about to give Trump even more power

For 100 years the Senate has allowed home-state senators to play a central role in approving nominees for federal judgeships in their states.

For a judicial nomination to move forward, both senators from a nominee’s state must return a “blue slip” that signals their agreement that that nominee should receive a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

The blue-slip process was put in place to ensure judges nominated by the president are mainstream and well-suited to the state in which they would serve — not handpicked by special-interest groups based in Washington.

Republicans have long been on board with this tradition. In 2009, the entire Republican conference wrote to President Barack Obama, telling him they had to be consulted and would use the blue-slip process to block any nominees from their home states they didn’t approve of.

Both parties have defended the blue slip to ensure senators play a role in selecting judicial nominees. Up until now.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s Obamacare order could destroy the health-care system

President Trump has made a lot of promises on health care.

Somehow, though, I don’t remember him promising stadiums of cheering fans that he’d take away protections for preexisting conditions, increase deductibles, spike premiums, eliminate basic coverage requirements and, more generally, destabilize the individual health-insurance market.

But that is what he said he’d do Thursday, when he signed an executive order on health care.

Those aren’t the precise words he used, of course. But they are the consequences of the policy bombs he wants to set off in two relatively obscure corners of the insurance market: association health plans and short-term health plans.

What are these plans, you might ask?

Under current law, an association of small businesses (such as a group of law firms) can band together and market insurance to members. These association health plans must abide by all the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act. They are also subject to the insurance laws and rules of the state in which they’re sold.

Lawrence Wilkerson and Gareth Porter: Congress, End America’s Role in Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

The Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen is a tragedy of epic proportions in which the United States is deeply and directly involved.  The war has caused mass starvation and a cholera epidemic that is worse than any the world has witnessed in the past 50 years, with the latest estimate of Yemeni victims at well over half a million.

This horrific situation is the result of Saudi/UAE bombing of roads, hospitals, bridges, water and sewage facilities, and the main port of Hodeida combined with a Saudi/UAE naval and air blockade that prevents large-scale humanitarian assistance from reaching the Yemeni war victims.

The Saudi/UAE coalition could not execute the war without U.S. direct involvement — specifically the refueling of their planes carrying out the bombing — and the further assistance of providing bombs and targeting intelligence.

Even apart from the need to halt this growing humanitarian disaster, Congress has a Constitutional obligation to deal with U.S. participation in this war. Flatly stated, U.S. participation is illegal.

Jeff Bryant: Betsy DeVos’s Attack On Public Education Is Just Beginning

With less than a year in office, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is already having the narrative of her impact on the nation’s public schools recast from someone with the power to “single-handedly decimate our public education system” to someone who is capable of only incremental change or who is completely ineffectual altogether.

Don’t believe this shift in the storyline.

First consider how many times media reports trumpeting efforts by the President Trump administration to act more responsibly have quickly changed, within days or even hours, to news reports of the continued fecklessness of the White House. Similarly, news stories about Trump being completely ineffectual at accomplishing his agenda are constantly counterbalanced with stories of his continued success at radically altering the nation.

Likewise, we can judge any attempts to recast DeVos into a more diminished role as short-term and mistaken interpretations of events.