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Sep 11 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: Democrats Are Credible on Health Care

Now, Obamacare is hardly a perfect system. It was always an awkward compromise reflecting the political constraints of the time, and many Democrats — including Barack Obama himself — are now suggesting moving beyond it to “Medicare for all,” although it’s not clear exactly what that would mean.

But the Affordable Care Act really did achieve a lot. And this achievement bears strongly on the current political debate. Basically, Democrats have earned a lot of credibility on health care: They delivered what they promised, and they have showed that they can build systems that work.

Republicans, on the other hand, aren’t just lying about their health plans — pretending, for example, to protect people with pre-existing conditions when they aren’t. They’ve also been utterly wrong about everything, and have learned nothing from their mistakes.

So are Democrats justified in running as the defenders of American health care? Yes.

Michelle Goldberg: The Handmaid’s Court

Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.

It’s fitting that last week’s Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were regularly interrupted by the sound of women screaming. Again and again, protesters, most of them female, cried out for the preservation of their rights, and were arrested. Republican men were contemptuous. “What’s the hysteria coming from?” asked Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Let me answer. It is true, as Sasse said, that protesters have claimed for many years that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will die. It’s a fair prediction; women died before Roe, and where abortion is illegal, unsafe abortion leads to maternal death. In the past, however, Roe has been saved. Should Kavanaugh be confirmed, it will either fall or be eviscerated.

Karina vanden Heuvel: Forget the Trump circus. Focus instead on his ruinous policies.

A recent opinion piece written by an unnamed senior official in the Trump administration calls out the obvious and terrifying failings of the president, while assuring Americans that “adults in the room” are limiting the damage. Both the piece and President Trump’s impetuous, adversarial and petty response torched a furor among the commentariat. Once more talk of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment revived; talk shows probed the motives of the author; Trump fed the story further by launching a public search for the “treasonous” writer. But the op-ed is more a trap than a boon for Democrats: The narrow focus on Trump’s odious zaniness distracts from the true destructiveness of the course pursued by the administration and the Republican-led Congress.

Republicans, as illustrated in their virtually universal reaction to the unnamed op-ed. They express dismay at Trump’s personal idiosyncrasies, and then pivot to touting the results of the policies. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) put it, “My approach is to ignore the political circus and focus on substance. And on substance, we’re getting an enormous amount accomplished for the American people.” The anonymous senior official echoes that, praising the administration’s “bright spots” of “effective deregulation,” “historic tax reform” and money for a “more robust military,” while assuring Americans that “adults in the room” — not the “deep state,” but the “steady state” — are working to blunt Trump’s craziness, particularly on trade, Russia and foreign policy.

This outrageous assertion, rather than Trump’s tired antics, deserves more attention. What the author calls “effective deregulation” is really packing departments with corporate lobbyists busily rolling back worker, consumer and environmental protections. Leading targets for these appointees have included gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, slashing the Environmental Protection Agency enforcement budget and weakening civil rights enforcement across the government.

Jeanne Shaheen: The United States has leverage to end the Yemeni civil war. Use it.

The civil war in Yemen has been raging for more than three years and has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The statistics are staggering: Three-quarters of Yemen’s population, approximately 22 million people, need humanitarian assistance; 8 million are threatened with starvation; and 400,000 children suffer from severe malnutrition. Yemenis are experiencing the worst outbreak of cholera in modern history. Devastation of schools, health-care facilities, and water and sewer infrastructure further compounds the crisis.

Yemen is also one of the world’s worst terrorist havens. In addition to having an Islamic State presence, Yemen is headquarters for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is widely viewed as al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate. Further, the civil war has provided Iran an opportunity to extend its malign activities in the Middle East, threatening the United States, our partners and our regional interests.

The ongoing civil war is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and terrorist threat. A major contributor to the devastation and chaos is the indiscriminate bombing campaign led by a coalition made up of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which receives refueling, intelligence and targeting support from the United States.