Jun 13 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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Zephyr Teachout: Mega-mergers like AT&T and Time Warner crush American democracy

On Tuesday, a district judge in DC approved the $85bn dollar merger between AT&T and Time Warner, without any conditions. On Monday, the FCC repealed its network neutrality laws. With a double punch, the telecom industry got a lot more concentrated and a license to discriminate.

The AT&T merger is especially disturbing in light of the network neutrality decision, because it involves a producer of content (Time Warner) merging with the distributor of that content. It is a data/media deal (like Verizon buying AOL). With the repeal of network neutrality, AT&T can throttle the content of competitors.

If we step back, we see these two moves are part of a larger trend: America is getting crushed by big, unresponsive, powerful corporate monopolies, the modern version of the trusts of the gilded age. This isn’t happening organically, but through mergers. We should take this setback to recommit to a new anti-monopoly movement, where we use all the laws available – at the federal and state level – to stop these modern Goliaths from crushing our democracy.

Conservatives Are Fighting to Roll Back Abortion Rights. And They’re Winning

When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a strict Arkansas abortion law last month, it effectively made Arkansas the first state in the country to ban medication abortion. As a result, anyone seeking an abortion in Arkansas now has to travel out of state or to Little Rock, where the state’s only surgical abortion provider is located. (Surgical abortion is still legal.)

There is no medical or health reason for this ban on medication abortion. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000, non-invasive medication abortion is safe by all measures — safer than Tylenol and Viagra, even. That’s why many women chose it over surgical abortion, which is already one of the safest medical procedures. [..]

We don’t know why the Supreme Court chose not to take the case challenging the Arkansas law, but the case is not over. It is back in the trial court, where Planned Parenthood is continuing to fight to have it blocked.

Arkansas is just the beginning. Conservative politicians, emboldened by the Trump administration, are attempting to roll back abortion rights in many states across the country.

Yanis Varoufakis: If Trump wants to blow up the world order, who will stop him?

Donald Trump’s early departure, and his subsequent refusal to endorse the G7 communique, has thrown the mainstream press into an apoplexy reflecting a deeper incomprehension of our unfolding global reality.

In a bid to mix toughness with humour, Emmanuel Macron had quipped that the G7 might become the … G6. That’s absurd, not least because without the United States, capitalism as we know it (let alone the pitiful G7 gatherings) would disappear from the planet’s face.

There is, of course, little doubt that with Trump in the White House there is an awful lot we should be angst-ridden about. However, the establishment’s reaction to the president’s shenanigans, in the United States and in Europe, is perhaps an even greater worry for progressives, replete as it is with dangerous wishful thinking and copious miscalculation.

Some put their faith in the Mueller investigation, assuming that Mike Pence would be kinder to them as president. Others are holding their breath until 2020, refusing to consider the possibility of a second term. What they all fail to grasp is the very real tectonic shifts underpinning Trump’s uncouth antics.

Michelangelo Signorile: Trump Caused The North Korea Crisis He’s Taking Credit For Fixing

We expected President Donald Trump to praise himself for meeting with Kim Jong Un ― a dictator who, like his father and grandfather before him, has been longing for a meeting with an American president.

And sure, if a meeting with Kim is the only thing that will momentarily stop nuclear war, give him all the meetings you can.

But let’s please remember that Trump created the frightening predicament that some are now crediting him with helping to resolve. There’s no question that the person who brought us to the brink of war was Trump, not Kim.

By tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation after North Korea’s missile tests, Trump created the very crisis that he believed only he could solve by meeting with Kim and lowering the temperature by giving away the store. It’s true that Kim responded with heated attacks, and the rhetoric escalated on both sides, but the American president shouldn’t be elevating a despot like Kim in the first place and further instigating confrontation.

Robert Kuttner: The Lasting Damage Of Trump’s Disastrous Diplomacy

It’s hardly a surprise that Donald Trump blew up the Group of Seven summit. In his warped view of the world, America’s closest allies are enemies, and nations that represent dangerous threats are friends.

Thus, Russia is to be welcomed back, while Canada, about as benign a neighbor as exists, is a menace for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade. (Fact check: The U.S. government’s own data suggest the U.S. ran a small trade surplus with Canada in 2017.) The European Union, whose subsidy and open-market policies are on a par with our own, is seen as a bigger threat than mercantilist China. And North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un gets warmer words than the leaders of Europe.

Has the world gone mad? No, only Donald Trump.

Trump’s bullshit in a china shop can best be understood on three levels. First, sheer ignorance. Second, thin-skinned petulance and pique. After barely papering over differences at the actual summit, Trump destroyed whatever shred of goodwill remained in a tweetstorm triggered by the effrontery of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticisms.