Oct 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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Paul Krugman: The G.O.P. Is No Party for Honest Men

According to a new CBS News poll, almost 60 percent of the American public believes that the current Republican tax plan favors the wealthy. Some people see this number as a sign that the plan is in trouble; I see it as a sign that Republican lies are working far better than they deserve to.

For the plan does indeed favor the wealthy — overwhelmingly, undeniably. It’s shocking that as many as 40 percent of Americans don’t realize this.

It’s not difficult to see how the plan is tilted toward the very top. The main elements of the plan are a cut in top individual tax rates; a cut in corporate taxes; an end to the estate tax; and the creation of a big new loophole that will allow wealthy individuals to pretend that they are small businesses, and get a preferential tax rate. All of these overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, mainly the top 1 percent. [..]

So the question about this plan isn’t whether it favors the wealthy — it does, to an outrageous extent. The questions we should be asking instead are why Republicans are pushing this so hard, and how they can hope to get away with it.

Eugene Robinson: An abusive creep’s defense

Confronted with allegations of serial sexual abuse and rape, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s instinct was to lie: “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

No, it wasn’t.

The different-era defense was also used by those who would excuse fugitive director Roman Polanski’s confessed 1977 crime, drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old girl. And those willing to forgive and forget the first 20 or so of Bill Cosby’s alleged sexual assaults, which took place during those scarlet decades.

Blaming the 1960s and 1970s has become the first refuge of abusive creeps. But those of us who lived through that time can recall — yes, perhaps through a slight haze — that “the culture” never approved of the kinds of things Weinstein is accused of doing.

That era was about personal liberation, the biggest component of which involved women’s empowerment. The sexual revolution gave women options that had been forbidden to them, but it never took away the option of rejecting unwanted advances. And never did “the culture” give men the moral right to use money and power to coerce sexual favors — or the legal right to commit sexual assault.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The GOP-led Congress is on a ruinous course

President Trump’s flailings are ever more terrifying. In the course of a few days, he tossed a grenade into the health-care markets that millions rely on, traduced the Iran nuclear deal, threatened to abandon American citizens ravaged by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, continued to sabotage action on climate change, tweeted about censoring the media, and so undermined Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) likened it to “castration.” Yet for all of that, Trump’s grotesqueries are exceeded by a Republican-led Congress intent on a course so ruinous as to be, one hopes, impossible to sustain.

This week, Senate Republicans will seek to push through a budget resolution for the current fiscal year. The resolution provides guidelines for spending and tax cuts, with projections for the next 10 years. It has the support of virtually all of the Republican caucus. Its provisions are destructive and absurd.

The resolution is designed to facilitate passage of tax cuts with Republican votes only. The final tax cut package hasn’t been written yet, but Republicans leaders have produced a “framework.” This bill will worsen the extreme inequality that already corrupts our democracy and impedes economic growth.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s incompetence will not save us from his malevolence

If you had hoped that President Trump’s incompetence would save us from his malevolence, here’s some bad news: Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act out of pure rage and spite are likely to have a very big impact, harming large numbers of people.

Democrats are increasingly pessimistic and think that this year’s enrollment numbers could fall millions short of last year’s numbers, a senior House Democratic leadership aide tells me. And Democrats are aware that this increases the pressure on them — i.e., Democratic elected officials as well as progressive groups — to do more to boost that enrollment in any way possible, the aide says.

With the ACA’s open enrollment period set to begin on Nov. 1, the political world is now digesting Trump’s latest claim about the law. “Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone,” Trump said. “There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.” This is being widely reported as spin that he has delivered on his promise to unravel the law, or as a prelude to Trump accepting a bipartisan deal to shore up the exchanges, which Trump also appeared open to yesterday.

But here’s another way to read those comments: as yet another effort to depress enrollment on the exchanges. Trump used the presidential bully pulpit to tell Americans that Obamacare has either self-immolated or has been obliterated. This could have the effect of discouraging enrollment, supporters of the law worry.

Gary Younge: End all immigration controls – they’re a sign we value money more than people

When I was a teenager I went to West Berlin with my local youth orchestra to take part in an Anglo-German cultural exchange. It was 1983 and the wall was up. As we toured the city over 10 days, we would keep butting into this grotesque cold war installation blocking our way, and butting up against my 14-year-old’s defence of socialism.

At that age I reflexively rejected most dominant narratives about race, class and nation. During a period of sus laws and anti-union legislation, I already understood there had to be another version of freedom out there that included me, and I was busy piecing together the fragments of my own worldview. And yet no amount of rationalisation could shake my conclusion that people whom I disagreed with about pretty much everything else were right about the wall.

Clearly, built with the deliberate intention to trap people in a place they might not want to be, the wall was heinous – not just a bad idea, but morally wrong. As such, it was the most obscene symbol of the broader case against the eastern bloc. The fact their governments would not allow residents to travel to the west was prima facie evidence of their lack of freedom: they were understood to be like open prisons.