Aug 01 2019

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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Frank Figliuzzi:Why Does Trump Fan the Flames of Race-Based Terrorism?

The president is making the F.B.I.’s job harder.

If I learned anything from 25 years in the F.B.I., including a stint as head of counterintelligence, it was to trust my gut when I see a threat unfolding. Those of us who were part of the post-Sept. 11 intelligence community had a duty to sound the alarm about an impending threat.

Now, instinct and experience tell me we’re headed for trouble in the form of white hate violence stoked by a racially divisive president. I hope I’m wrong. [..]

It doesn’t really matter whether Mr. Trump is truly a racist or merely playing one on television to appeal to his base. Either way, his path can lead to bloodshed. When that happens, we will hear White House officials and the Republican leadership claim their hands are clean because malicious people can’t be stopped from acting out.

Don’t believe a word of it. Terrorists aren’t born that way: They are inspired, cultivated and directed. Our experience with online radicalization has shown there is a clear path to violence. I fear we are on it.

David Dayen: CNN’s Debate Fail

The Democratic debate was an inevitable by-product of turning news into an entertainment and cultural product

Everyone working for CNN should walk into network president Jeff Zucker’s office and resign en masse on Wednesday morning. A “debate” that spent its opening 25 minutes less efficiently than a Super Bowl pre-game show got dramatically worse as the actual questions got started. Jake Tapper then delivered instructions, warning the candidates not to go over time after CNN saw fit to run the national anthem and then a commercial break after the scheduled start time. The only ones wasting time on debate night would be CNN.

It would give Tapper and his other moderators too much credit to say that their relentless right-wing framing of the questions was animated by a desire to protect the insurance industry and the border patrol. But that’s not really it. CNN has no politics. CNN has no understanding of politics or policy. I doubt the combined firepower of the 20-person post-game panel could name a bill currently before Congress. The CNN debate was an inevitable by-product of turning news into an entertainment and cultural product.

Kate Aronoff: The Democratic field is crowded with C-listers. It’s time for some to drop out

Relative nobodies like John Delaney and John Hickenlooper have taken up more airtime than the climate crisis during the debates. We deserve better

illions of Americans don’t know who John Delaney or John Hickenlooper are. They probably wouldn’t be able to correctly identify them in a photo. And yet, at the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, Delaney got to speak for nearly 11 minutes, and John Hickenlooper for almost nine. In one night, those two relatively unknown men combined got more airtime than the climate crisis has in all three debates thus far. And that’s despite the fact that, if we don’t do anything to address rising temperatures now, we will see several US cities underwater in the coming decades.

So here’s my pitch: if these and other candidates without a shot in hell at winning actually cared about the future of this country, they would drop out.

There are plenty of substantive differences among the viable candidates that deserve to be explored in depth, on just about every issue raised at Tuesday’s debate – healthcare, immigration, climate, gun violence – plus many more. And while it’s great for the ratings of networks like CNN, it’s not exactly a boon to American democracy to watch a stage flanked with unrecognizable C-list primary hopefuls pad their own egos because they’re rich or well-connected enough to meet the debate criteria.

Jill Richardson: You Don’t Save Money By Forcing People to Go Hungry

Food stamps helped me get back on my feet during a tough time. Cutting them is lose-lose.

Food stamps are a huge stimulus to the economy. Families spend their SNAP benefits to buy food from local businesses like grocery stores, and that creates jobs — from the store clerk stocking the shelves, to the truck driver transporting the food, to the farmers and ranchers producing the food.

For every $5 the U.S. government spends on food stamps, it generates $9 in economic activity. That’s an incredibly effective stimulus.

Federal school breakfast and lunch programs do more than help food security too — they help kids succeed. Imagine trying to pay attention or take a test while you’re hungry. School breakfast and lunch helps kids from low income families break the cycle of poverty when they grow up, because it helps them benefit more from their education.

The movement to cut low-income people who are eligible for food stamps and school lunch off of those programs isn’t just immoral, it’s short-sighted.

Sarah Jaffe: The Politics of Petulance, From Donald Trump to Boris Johnson

Four decades of relentless there-is-no-alternative propaganda has so many people believing that change is impossible, so you might as well stick your middle finger up at the world instead.

Donald Trump’s campaign is selling drinking straws. Plastic drinking straws, naturally. The campaign has raised nearly half a million from sales of packs of fifteen red straws with “TRUMP” branded on them, as an alternative to “liberal paper straws.”

The premise, of course, is that liberals with their silly ideas about saving the planet and banning plastic straws deserve to be mocked. Paper straws don’t work and neither does liberalism. (Who knows what socialist straws might look like?)

The straw campaign is so utterly childish, so petty—with a dash of nihilism—that it’s the perfect encapsulation of the real heart of Trumpism. Americans, after all, have long had politicians who used white supremacy as a selling point, from the founders to John C. Calhoun to George Wallace, Nixon’s “Southern strategy” to Ronald Reagan, as the news this week reminded us. We’re used to grandstanding about America being the greatest country in the world—that’s bipartisan foreign policy since before the Monroe Doctrine.

But the politics of petulance is somehow perfect for our current moment. Four decades of relentless there-is-no-alternative propaganda has so many people believing that change is impossible, so they might as well stick their middle finger up at the world instead.

In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson has ridden a Trump-esque wave of Brexit demagoguery into the prime minister’s office—not through an election but by being chosen by the Conservative party after Theresa May stepped down. He, too, puts this pettiness on display.