Apr 24 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: We Don’t Need No Education

Matt Bevin, the conservative Republican governor of Kentucky, lost it a few days ago. Thousands of his state’s teachers had walked off their jobs, forcing many schools to close for a day, to protest his opposition to increased education funding. And Bevin lashed out with a bizarre accusation: “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”

He later apologized. But his hysterical outburst had deep roots: At the state and local levels, the conservative obsession with tax cuts has forced the G.O.P. into what amounts to a war on education, and in particular a war on schoolteachers. That war is the reason we’ve been seeing teacher strikes in multiple states. And people like Bevin are having a hard time coming to grips with the reality they’ve created.

To understand how they got to this point, you need to know what government in America does with your tax dollars.

Margaret Renkl: An American Tragedy in Nashville

There is something fundamentally democratic about a Waffle House restaurant in the wee hours of the morning. It’s a place where people working the late shift can stop for a hot meal on the way home, where high school kids can extend prom night just an hour longer, where 20-somethings jazzed on live music can wind down after a night on the town. The coffee is always fresh, and the counter staff has heard it all before but will usually listen again if you need an ear. It’s a uniquely American place.

There’s something tragically, fundamentally American, too, about an angry young white man with a firearm killing a bunch of strangers who have done him no harm. That’s what happened early Sunday morning, when a man who was naked except for a green jacket loaded with ammunition opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at a Waffle House in the Antioch section of Nashville. Four people were fatally shot and four others were wounded before James Shaw Jr., an unarmed customer, wrestled the gun from him, saving untold lives. [..]

As I have written here before, Tennessee has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country, though no one seems to know whether a man whose right to own a gun had been revoked by another state is prohibited by Tennessee law from owning the same gun here. The weapons “would not have been lawfully in his hands in Illinois,” Nashville’s police chief, Steve Anderson, said at a news conference on Sunday. “Now, possessing them in Tennessee, I don’t know that he would have violated any Tennessee law.”

Here’s what we do know: Because Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly — owned lock, stock and soul by the National Rifle Association — will not require people here to register their guns, four beautiful young people with their whole lives ahead of them are being mourned by an entire city, and all the thoughts and prayers in the world will not bring them back to us.

Michelle Goldberg: Hope in Arizona

On Tuesday, there’s a special election in Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District, which Donald Trump won by 21 percentage points. It’s to replace Trent Franks, the abortion opponent who resigned amid reports that he tried to create his own personal version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by pressuring female employees to serve as gestational surrogates.

In the past two elections, Democrats didn’t contest the district, which encompasses suburbs northwest of Phoenix. This time, a Democrat named Hiral Tipirneni, a former emergency room physician and first-time political candidate, is running against a Republican state senator, Debbie Lesko. Though Lesko is expected to win, some polls show the race in a dead heat, and Republicans have spent more than $1 million on the campaign.

On Thursday, public schoolteachers in Arizona, among the lowest paid in the country, are planning to walk out, following the lead of teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. For 15 years, “we’ve continued to get cut and cut and cut,” Theresa Ratti, who teaches high school in Mesa, told me. “My A.P. government textbook that I teach from, the new president is George W. Bush.” [..]
Both the walkout and the surprising viability of Tipirneni’s campaign are manifestations of the explosive activist energy, particularly among women, set off by the catastrophe of Trump’s election. Since Hillary Clinton’s defeat, “college-educated women have ramped up their political participation en masse,” the historian Lara Putnam and the political scientist Theda Skocpol wrote in a recent article, “Middle America Reboots Democracy.” It’s this civic renewal that is transforming politics in Arizona.

Catherine Rampell: Tax cuts were supposed to save the GOP from Trump. Oops.

Tax cuts were supposed  to save the Republican Party from President Trump.

Voters would ignore the president’s Twitter outbursts; his Cabinet’s private-jet and redecoration scandals; the Russia investigation; porn star and playmate payoffs; and many other miscellaneous embarrassments.

Voters were supposed to be so very grateful to have a little extra pocket money that they would be willing to overlook all that nonsense and eagerly cast their ballots for the GOP come November.

Unfortunately for Republicans, this deus tax machina never arrived.

Just 27 percent  of Americans believe the GOP tax overhaul was a good idea, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Even among Republican voters, the tax cuts are not exactly thunderously popular: A little more than half (56 percent) say they were a good idea.

Other polls this month found similar results. And tax cuts are already failing Republicans on the campaign trail, too.

Eugene Robinson: Trump golfed instead of going to Barbara Bush’s funeral. That was a good thing.

Sometimes a picture is worth a zillion words. The viral group photograph from former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral speaks volumes about the state of our democracy, poignantly illustrating what we have lost and must at all costs regain.

George H.W. Bush is front and center in his wheelchair. Behind him, left to right, we see Laura and George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump. It is an extraordinary portrait of power, continuity, legacy, civility and mutual respect — a remarkable tableau that is made possible only by President Trump’s absence. Imagine him in the picture, puffed-up and no doubt scowling, trying desperately to make himself the center of attention. It’s a good thing he decided to spend the weekend playing golf and writing angry tweets at Mar-a-Lago instead.

I can’t look at that photo without pondering how destructive Trump has been — and how much work and goodwill it will take to put the pieces together again after he’s gone.

The elder Bush pursued conservative policies. Clinton was center-left. The younger Bush took the country back to the right. Obama pulled it to the left. These shifts seemed big and important at the time, but they pale in comparison with the disruption Trump has wrought.