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Nov 26 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 Pelosi and John Sarbanes: The Democratic majority’s first order of business: Restore democracy

Earlier this month, Americans went to the polls and sent a powerful message: The election not only was a resounding verdict against Republicans’ assault on Americans’ health care and wages, but it also was a vote to rescue our broken democracy.

In the face of a torrent of special-interest dark money, partisan gerrymandering and devious vote-suppression schemes, voters elected a House Democratic majority determined to bring real change to restore our democracy.

During the campaign, Democrats declared unequivocally that we would clean up corruption to make Washington work for the people. We pledged to reduce the role of money in politics, to restore ethics and integrity to government, and to strengthen voting laws.

We now have our marching orders. The new Democratic House is ready to deliver with H.R. 1: a bold reform package to restore the promise of our democracy — a government of, by and for the people.

Robert Reich: Break up Facebook (and while we’re at it, Google, Apple and Amazon)

Last week, the New York Times revealed that Facebook executives withheld evidence of Russian activity on their platform far longer than previously disclosed. They also employed a political opposition research firm to discredit critics.

There’s a larger story here.

America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century began with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – but culminated in mammoth trusts owned by “robber barons” who used their wealth and power to drive out competitors and corrupt American politics.

We’re now in a second Gilded Age – ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet – that has spawned a handful of giant hi-tech companies.

Facebook and Google dominate advertising. They’re the first stops for many Americans seeking news. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything.

This consolidation at the heart of the American economy creates two big

problems.

Françoise Girard: Abortion Pills Are No Post-Roe Panacea

As abortion rights have come under increasing attack in the United States, commentators have held up self-administered abortion pills as a backup plan for a post-Roe world. They point to the millions of pregnant women worldwide who are using pills to self-manage abortion, citing them as an example of what reproductive health care might look like should in-clinic abortions be made illegal.

There’s no question that abortion pills are revolutionary. In the hands of women, the pills have transformed self-induced abortion from a once-dangerous endeavor into a safe procedure. Abortion help lines have walked women through the process of self-management, sometimes remotely or even over the internet. Where abortion is illegal, black market access to the drugs has resulted in significant decreases in complications and deaths.

Yet, even with these major advances, the idea that “coat-hanger abortions” are a thing of the past is misguided. The International Women’s Health Coalition welcomes do-it-yourself abortion pills as the extremely safe, effective and empowering technology they are. But we worry about the many women who will be left behind unless legal restrictions are removed, funding for abortion services is provided and barriers to access are eliminated.

Jim Hightower: Skip Cyber Monday—Support a Real Local Business

You don’t actually have to “get out there” anywhere, for this gimmicky shop-shop-shop day lures us to consume without leaving home, or even getting out of bed. Concocted by Amazon, the online marketing monopolist, Cyber Monday is a knock-off of Black Friday—just another ploy by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to siphon sales from real stores.

Seems innocent enough, but behind Amazon’s online convenience and discounted prices is a predatory business model based on exploitation of workers, bullying of suppliers, dodging of taxes, and use of crude anti-competitive force against America’s Main Street businesses.

A clue into Amazon’s ethics came when Bezos instructed his staff to get ever-cheaper prices from small-business suppliers by stalking them “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.”

Will Bunch: Oil Is the Poison That Burns Paradise, Kills Kashshoggi, Inflames Paris. When Will We Quit?

The elevator pitch is that global warming should terrify fiscal conservatives because the costs are enormous (wiping out 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product, double the hit from the Great Recession of a decade ago), its negative effects are already here in ways that are obvious (the drought-fueled wildfires that killed scores of people in Paradise, Calif.) and not so obvious (the warm-weather spread of ticks that cause Lyme disease), and the impact will only intensify as we get deeper into the 21st century, from California-style wildfires in the U.S. Southeast to trade disruptions as natural disasters around the globe interrupt the supply chain.

Friday’s blunt warning got more attention than most stories about climate change — our slow-motion disaster that never breaks through the 24/7 news cycle of fast-moving ones — but yet the overwhelming reaction was still cynicism and sad resignation, like a cancer diagnosis for a patient that refuses treatment. Maybe 13 government agencies understand the world is on fire, but the 14th and the only one that matters — the White House — remains in deep denial. In a statement accompanying the Black Friday news dump, the White House especially “blamed” the Obama administration for beginning work on a report that was “largely based on the most extreme scenario.”

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