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Aug 01 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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Nancy Altman: It’s Medicare’s 53rd Birthday—It’s Time Everyone Had It

On July 30th, 1965, Medicare became the law of the land. For over a half century, it has stood as a shining example of government at its best. Today, it efficiently provides high-quality health care to nearly 50 million seniors and nearly 9 million Americans with disabilities.

After decades of success, Medicare is under attack. The Republican Party wants to destroy Medicare by turning it from a guaranteed benefit into a privatized voucher program where beneficiaries receive inadequate coupons to purchase insurance on the private market.

But Democrats are fighting back in the best possible way: Offering a far superior competing vision. The Democratic Party is increasingly unified around improving Medicare’s benefits and expanding it to cover all of us.

Richard Eskow: An Economy in the Fast Lane – With No Brakes

Donald Trump has been bragging about the economy a lot lately. He says the United States is now the “economic envy” of the world. Unfortunately, Trump is once again trying to reshape reality to fit his own delusions. Reality is refusing to cooperate.

It’s true the U.S. economy is in the fast lane, by some measures, just as it was in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency.  But where, exactly, is it headed?

And what will happen when the next blowout comes, as it inevitably will?

We know one thing: average Americans, who have seen their incomes stagnate while inequality rises, and their wealth declines, will bear the brunt of the next recession. [..]

When the next recession hits, the working people of the United States will pay the steepest price. Their voices should be heard today, before the government tries to slam on the brakes – and nothing happens.

Mimi Kramer: No, Rudy: Trump Isn’t Othello. He’s Iago.

At eight o’clock Monday morning, Rudy Giuliani was already on television talking all manner of nonsense on behalf of his client Donald Trump. [..]

The purpose of Monday’s interviews seemed to be to square his previous comments about Trump fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen, whom at one point Monday America’s mayor called “Bob.”

Earlier this summer, Giuliani had praised Cohen as “honest.” Now he was calling him a liar. Asked about this shift, Giuliani babbled that “George Washington would have said that about Benedict Arnold at a certain point in time.” As for the president? Cohen had betrayed Trump “like Iago betrayed Othello and Brutus put the last knife into Caesar.”

Actually, Iago doesn’t so much betray Othello as he sets out to destroy him: There’s no question of loyalty or fidelity, so there’s no element of Iago turning on Othello, as Trump clearly feels Cohen is doing.

Dean Baker: Where Donald Trump and the Elites Agree on Protectionism: Patents and Copyrights

Policy wonks and pundits have been nearly unanimous in their condemnations of Donald Trump’s trade war and his primary weapon of tariffs. Tariffs are a tax increase on US consumers, raising the price of imports and the domestically produced goods with which they compete.

Retaliation by other countries will reduce US exports, costing jobs in other sectors. This is not likely to lead to good outcomes, especially when the basis for Trump’s complaints is vague, constantly shifting and often at odds with reality.

The one exception is with patents and copyrights. There is widespread agreement with Trump that China, our largest competitor, is stealing “our” intellectual property. They agree that Trump should be prepared to take steps to stop this theft and crackdown on China’s practices.

Bill Blum: Paul Manafort and the Five Stages of ‘Mueller Derangement Syndrome’

There’s one thing you can count on when the first of two scheduled trials involving former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort gets underway this week in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Va. No, it’s not that Manafort, who faces 18 felony counts of financial fraud and tax evasion, will be convicted. When it comes to jury trials, convictions are never a sure thing. Just ask Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, the Los Angeles deputy district attorneys who lost the O.J. Simpson case despite a mountain of evidence amassed against the football star.

The one sure thing is that Manafort’s trial will ignite a new outbreak of what I like to call, following the argot of the day, Mueller Derangement Syndrome (MDS). This is the paranoid belief that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling with the 2016 election is a neo-McCarthy witch hunt spearheaded by a globalist “deep state” Obama/Clinton conspiracy that stealthily pulls the strings of American political life.