Jun 14 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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Bryce Covert: The AT&T-Time Warner Megamerger Sets A Dangerous Precedent

Late on Tuesday, a judge sided with AT&T and Time Warner, ruling that the proposed marriage between the two corporate behemoths can go forward with nary a hitch. President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice had tried to intervene, suing to stop the union from being consecrated without any conditions. But Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia gave the megamerger his blessing, concluding that because it won’t harm competition, the companies don’t need to make any concessions to seal the deal. [..]

Motivations aside, the instinct to block this huge merger was the right one. The problem is that our antitrust regulatory regime, which is supposed to keep corporate consolidation in check so that monopolies don’t dominate the economy, has been so weakened over the past four decades that it can’t grapple with today’s economic reality. Thanks to a zealous focus on consumer prices and nothing else, judges and regulators nearly always approve deals like this one — vertical integration, in which two companies offering different products or services combine into one megacorporation. But mergers like this one will have plenty of pernicious side effects that can sicken the U.S. economy.

Jennifer Rubin: Departing Republicans confess: They have been part of a ‘cult’

Frustrated by his Republican colleagues’ refusal to vote on his amendment to roll back President Trump’s tariffs, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) fessed up on Wednesday: “We’re in a strange place. It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? It’s not a good place for any party to have a cult-like situation as it relates to a President that happens to be purportedly of the same party.” It’s even worse when the cult leader is dishonest, irrational and erratic; those who follow him quickly appear dishonest, irrational and erratic.

Corker continued: “To have an administration that wakes up every day on an ad hoc basis just making stuff up as they go along with no coherency to it — I think us having to weigh in on that would actually cause them to have to think about what they’re doing versus, ‘Well, I’m upset with X today so I’ll do this.’ ”

There is something refreshing about having the Republican Party’s cowardice out in the open, acknowledged by its own members. The pretense that they were upholding their oaths and/or their constituents was too much to bear.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: There’s no defending Trump’s North Korea performance

One of the costs of the Trump era is that all opinions become suspect because, even more than usual, everything is seen through the prism of whether you are for or against the president. Consequently, criticism of President Trump is regularly assumed by his supporters to be rooted in bad faith.

The retort to any judgment against his statements or his policies typically begins with “You wouldn’t say this . . .” and ends with “if Obama (or Bush or Clinton) were doing it.”

In the interest of candor, let’s acknowledge that many of us are automatically suspicious of everything Trump says because he not only is a documented liar but also came close to copping to the fact during a news conference in Singapore.

In explaining what he’d do if he proved to be mistaken about his big bet this week on the integrity of Kim Jong Un, Trump said: “I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’”

Then he caught himself and added: “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

This was our salesman-in-chief reveling in his skill at covering up and deceiving.

Margaret Carlson: Betsy Devos Remakes Higher Education in the Image of Trump University

One of the president’s favorite cabinet secretaries is Education’s Betsy DeVos. She might be first if it weren’t for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has the capacity to ruin the planet while she can only ruin the next generation.

Her latest assault on students comes in the form of restoring the standing of ACICS, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a deeply discredited accrediting body. It was stripped of its authority by the Obama Administration for approving of schools that promise aspiring students the moon and the stars if only they would take on ever more debt to enroll in worthless courses to land jobs that never materialize.

Many for-profits would cease to exist if ACICS and other accreditors didn’t turn a blind eye to predatory practices that makes payday lenders look like the Federal Reserve Board. They’re the gatekeepers to the spigot of federal funds that flow through students to schools so long as they are accredited. But that process is flawed and rife with conflicts. Often a school picks and pays its accreditor. Many accreditors have executives of schools on their boards. It’s not an arms-length transaction.

Obama moved to curb the worst practices of for-profits in the face of billions of dollars in federal financial-aid dollars going to waste on schools whose business model was to lure students in the door, upsell them, and cashier them out after they’d tapped out on loans.

Of course, DeVos stopped that reform in its tracks.

Rick Wilson: Trump’s Negotiating Style Is Pure Art of the Moron

Don’t I get it? Don’t I love how Trump is achieving the impossible, and soaring to heights to which no other president could aspire? Haven’t I gotten over the election yet? When, oh when, will I finally MAGA? I received an email Tuesday from a Trump fan asking why for once I couldn’t congratulate Donald Trump for his work with North Korea.

Of course, we start when Trump fled the humid confines of Washington, D.C., jetting to Quebec to blow up the G7 summit and take a massive political and rhetorical dump on some of our longest-standing and closest allies. But I’m playing nice, so thank you, Mr. President, for adopting 19th-century trade policies that combine both raging economic illiteracy and inevitably adverse outcomes for America. Well done.

Thank you, because nothing says Presidential Stature like your juvenile dick-waving and insults attacking the heads of state of the G7 nations. Thanks are also in order for deploying your clown-car motorcade of loudmouth, shock-jock aides to make the damage worse.