Nov 06 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 New Democratic Party

A year ago this week, America made what I believe history will record as one of the greatest electoral mistakes in the life of the nation: It elected Donald Trump president of the United States.

It did so while drowning in Russia-produced propaganda, under a torrent of Russia-stolen emails, facing the stiff arm of renewed voter suppression, and on the watch of a splintering and dysfunctional Democratic Party.

All of those caveats are valid and necessary, but they don’t undo what has been done. They rightly call into question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, but they don’t nullify it.

The only remedy is removal, and that’s a very high bar, although recent moves in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have renewed hopes.

How did we get here?

Trevor Timm: Trump wants to keep our draconian surveillance laws. Don’t let him do i

Lost amid the constant headlines about hearings on social media companies and Russia, is that Congress is having the most important debate on privacy rights in years.


While it’s an uphill battle, if enough pressure is put on representatives in the coming months, there is a real chance some of the most controversial NSA surveillance powers exposed by Edward Snowden could be substantially restricted.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) – the controversial spying provision that allows the NSA to spy on hundreds of thousands of foreign individuals and warrantless access to Americans’ emails – expires at the end of the year. The Trump administration and intelligence agencies are lobbying for the law to be permanently reauthorized, but a bipartisan coalition of congressmen are pushing for important reforms.

Jessica Valenti: It’s no accident that sexual harassers rise up the ranks

As the sexual harassment reckoning continues to sweep the country, with new men outed and more women coming forward every day, people are rightfully asking how it’s possible that these abusers were able flourish for so long.

Across industries, men accused of rape, harassment and the most disgusting sorts of behavior rose up the ranks seemingly without notice. They were promoted time and again, amassing power at work, even though their abuse of women was often an “open secret”.

Perhaps it’s time to consider that abusive men aren’t rising to the top in spite of their disdain for women, but because of it. In a country where domineering bravado and casual misogyny can land a man in the White House, it’s not unreasonable to believe that this kind of behavior in men not only goes unpunished – but that it’s actively rewarded.

Robert Kuttner: Wither The Democrats?

on, focused on one thing — containing Trump, his fake populism and his Republican allies.

Instead, the party of the people is withering. Energy on the ground is low, infighting is high. The run-up to the Virginia gubernatorial election is feeling sickeningly like the last days of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The polls show a race tightening by the week. The most recent reliable poll, the New York Times/Siena poll, shows the Democrat, Ralph Northam, up by just three points, 43 to 40, with 17 percent undecided. There is the same sort of chasm by race and class as in the Clinton-Trump race, with non-college educated whites favoring Republican Ed Gillespie by forty points.

These are people, based on social class, who should be Democrats. If the lackluster, accident-prone and risk-averse Democrat, Lieutenant Governor Northam, does pull out a narrow win, it will only be because his Republican rival Gillespie, is a longtime party hack and lobbyist, and even less convincing than Donald Trump as a populist.

Robert Reich: Trump’s Trojan Horse Tax Cut

The goal of Trump and the Republican leaders is to pull off a giant redistribution of over $1 trillion from the middle-class, working-class and poor to the rich, who are already richer than ever.

They’re selling this to the public with a false claim that the middle-class will benefit from their tax cut plan. It’s a gigantic Trojan horse.

For most Americans, the proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. That’s right -– temporary. They will shrink in just a few years. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.

Meanwhile, the top one percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top one percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut.

Republicans say economic “growth” will pay for the tax cuts, so there’s no need to cut social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

But Republicans have just passed a budget that would cut nearly $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for these tax cuts. Pell Grants, housing assistance, and even cancer research are also on the chopping block..