Mar 06 2018

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: A Ranting Old Guy With Nukes

Imagine that you’re listening to some garrulous old guy in a diner, telling you what’s wrong with the world — which mainly involves how we’re being victimized and taken advantage of by foreigners. You hear him out; after all, there have been approximately 17,000 news analyses telling us that garrulous old guys in diners represent the Real America.

Despite your best efforts to avoid being condescending, however, you can’t help noticing that his opinions seem a bit, well, factually challenged. No, we aren’t experiencing a huge wave of violent crime carried out by immigrants. No, we don’t give away vast sums in foreign aid. And so on down the list. Basically, what he imagines to be facts are things he thinks he heard somewhere, maybe on Fox News, and can’t be bothered to check.

O.K., in general we should be prepared to cut ordinary citizens a lot of slack on such stuff. People have children to care for, jobs to do and lives to live, so we can’t expect them to be policy wonks — although maybe they should have a better sense of what they don’t know.

But what if the ranting, ill-informed old guy who strongly believes things that just aren’t true happens to be the president of the United States?

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Democratic Party establishment, it’s time to respect insurgent progressives

The midterm elections kick into gear today as Texas voters head to the polls for the first statewide primaries of 2018. In years past, today’s races would have mattered little to a national Democratic Party that consistently fails to compete in the state. But this year feels different because, in many ways, the dynamics at play in Texas are emblematic of what is happening — for better and for worse — all over the country.

On the one hand, there are genuine reasons for optimism.

Despite the state’s heavy Republican tilt, President Trump’s low approval rating among Texans has contributed to a huge enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats. During the early-voting period, Democrats turned out at more than twice the rate they did in 2014, dwarfing Republican turnout and helping establish a new state record for early voting in a non-presidential election. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) warned at a recent gathering of Republicans, many Democrats would “crawl over broken glass” to cast a ballot this year. [..]

These chances for flipping seats aren’t unique to Texas. Across the country, including states and districts that Democrats have written off in prior elections, sustained grass-roots energy is boosting the party’s prospects. Yet there is also serious cause for concern, as some Democrats seem intent on sapping that energy in an attempt to reassert control of the party.

Eugene Robinson: The Trump presidency could cost the nation more than we realize

As the saying goes, you don’t miss the water until the well runs dry: This deeply aberrant presidency threatens to cost the nation much more than even some of President Trump’s harshest critics may realize.

From 1988 to 1992, I was The Post’s correspondent in Buenos Aires, covering all of South America. It was a time when countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile — emerging from years of authoritarian rule — were struggling to reestablish democratic norms, and I learned one important lesson: It’s easy to lose the habits and values of democracy, but incredibly hard to get them back.

Perhaps most difficult is to recover lost faith in the rule of law. That is why Trump’s very public desire to use the legal system as a weapon against his political opponents is so damaging. “Lock her up” is more than a call to imprison Hillary Clinton. It is, potentially, a tragic epitaph for the consensus view of our legal system as a disinterested finder of fact and dispenser of justice.

In the countries I covered, military rulers had imprisoned, exiled and assassinated their internal foes. It was understandable that democratically elected governments would struggle — sometimes successfully, sometimes not — to find ways to hold the murderous generals and admirals accountable. Decades later, however, the pattern persists.

Ross Barkin: The teachers’ strike in West Virginia represents rare hope in dark times

Beyond the gross cacophony of the Trump White House, where inane palace intrigue continues to transfix the nation, a very important story is taking place. While the mainstream media has just caught up, it has been months, if not years, in the making – a revolt that may just signal the actual, much-deserved revenge of the working class.

In West Virginia, all of the teachers have been on strike for over a week. Among the very worst paid in America, these teachers are seeking a 5% pay raise and passable health benefits. While a deal seemed to be in place for the teachers to return back to work, the state senate blocked it and the teachers remain on strike, thronging the state capitol with growing support.

Unlike past labor actions, this statewide strike has come without official union backing. Long on the decline in West Virginia, the union representing teachers is both hamstrung by existing laws and too divorced from its militant past to drive an action like this. The teachers walked out on their own, fed up with a status quo that was leaving them nearly destitute.

The wildcat strike is illegal and the teachers don’t care. It appears, for now, they are winning. Teachers in Oklahoma are contemplating a strike. Others may follow.

Carey Gillam: Monsanto says its pesticides are safe. Now, a court wants to see the proof

On Monday, a federal court hearing in San Francisco will turn a public spotlight on to the science surrounding the safety of one of the world’s most widely used pesticides, a weedkilling chemical called glyphosate that has been linked to cancer and is commonly found in our food and water, even in our own bodily fluids. Given the broad health and environmental implications tied to the use of this pesticide, we would be well served to pay attention.

As the active ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup and hundreds of other herbicides, glyphosate represents billions of dollars in annual revenues for Monsanto and other companies, and is prominently used by farmers as an aid in food production. It’s also favored by cities for keeping public parks and playgrounds weed free, and by homeowners who want a tidy lawn. But the chemical was deemed a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer experts in 2015 in a finding that has since triggered waves of liability lawsuits against Monsanto.