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Apr 09 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: Unicorns of the Intellectual Right

The hiring-then-firing of Kevin Williamson followed a familiar script. A mainstream media organization hires a conservative in the name of intellectual diversity, then is shocked, shocked to discover that he’s dishonest and/or holds truly reprehensible views – something that the organization could have discovered with a few minutes on Google. But when the bad hire is let go, the right treats him as a martyr, proof of liberal refusal to let alternative viewpoints be heard. Why does this keep happening?

As others have pointed out, the real problem here is that media organizations are looking for unicorns: serious, honest, conservative intellectuals with real influence. Forty or fifty years ago, such people did exist. But now they don’t.

To understand why, let me talk about what I know: the field of economics. This happens to be a field with a relatively strong conservative presence compared to other social sciences, and as far as I can tell even contains considerably more self-identified conservatives/Republicans than hard science. Even so, trying to find influential conservative economic intellectuals is basically a hopeless task, for two reasons.

Dean Baker: New York State’s Big Middle Finger to the Republican Tax Plan

Last month New York State gave a big middle finger to Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. It included measures in its budget bill that will allow people in the state to get around the new tax law’s limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes. This could save the state’s ability to maintain and extend its level of public services.

A provision in the Republican tax overhaul bill limits the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) that could be deducted from federal income tax to $10,000. In a relatively high-tax state like New York, many families have state and local taxes that far exceed this amount. The capping of the SALT deduction is a Republican effort at the federal level to deny states the revenue they would need to maintain and extend current levels of public services. This is why the workarounds designed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration are a big deal.

Charles M. Blow: Horror of Being Governed by ‘Fox & Friends’

During the early days of the Obama administration, I did a few appearances on “Fox & Friends.”

The conversations were predictably shallow, tilted and exploitive. The hosts had a particular knack for asking the idiotic with chipper earnestness, spewing venom through simpering smiles. There was, I felt, maleficence at work with a pretense of positivity.

I knew well that I was swimming in a shallow intellectual pool, and yet I told myself that I was doing yeoman’s work, doing my small part to try and correct misinformation and to reach those lost in Fox’s fog.

But I soon discovered that the show, and indeed the network, was beyond redemption.

I was simply being used to help give the show the appearance of fairness, impartiality and legitimacy, when it was anything but.

Appearing on Fox, I became part of the disinformation machine rather than hobbling it. So, I cut ties, stopped responding to their requests and stopped the appearances. [..]

This show, with its kindergarten-level intellectual capacity, moved from parroting conservative policies to constructing presidential priorities. “Fox & Friends” has essentially become Donald Trump’s daily briefing.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Trump’s politics of outrage is failing him

President Trump doubled down last week on his repulsive charge that immigrants from south of our border are “rapists.” It was another sign of what an appalling man he is but also an indication of how much political trouble he faces.

Trump is a demagogue who relies on the angry energy of his supporters. But he finds himself in an untenable position: No matter how many hot buttons he pushes, he cannot arouse the passion he needs on his own side to counter the determination and engagement of those who loathe him.

The upshot is a vicious cycle that could be disastrous for the Republican Party this fall. So far, Trump has failed to stir his base, but he has become, unintentionally, one of the most effective organizers of progressive activism and commitment in the country’s history.

Leo Gerard: Deep and Abiding Disrespect for Teachers

When coal-mine bosses said mules were more precious than men because dead miners could be replaced for free, but not dead mules, it demonstrated disrespect. That contempt from the top provoked pitched gun battles between workers and mine-owner militias in West Virginia a little over a century ago.

Ill-paid, mistreated and insulted, what did the miners have to lose?

The same was true for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., half a century later. Subjected to dangerous equipment that killed four workers in four years and paid so little they qualified for food stamps, more than 1,300 walked off the job on Feb. 12, 1968. They demanded respect, carrying signs stating, “I am a man.” The day after Dr. Martin Luther King marched to support these workers, he was assassinated in Memphis.

Now, a half century later, GOP politicians have so denigrated public school teachers that the educators in three states have engaged in wildcat strikes, mobbing their capitol buildings and demanding improved school funding for students and better pay and benefits for themselves and other workers.