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Aug 13 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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Harry Reid: The Filibuster Is Suffocating the Will of the American People

To save our country’s future, Democrats must abolish this arcane Senate rule.

I am not an expert on all of government, but I do know something about the United States Senate. As the former majority leader, I know how tough it is to get anything through the chamber, which was designed to serve as the slower, more deliberative body of the United States Congress.

But what is happening today is a far cry from what the framers intended. They created the Senate as a majority-rule body, where both sides could have their say at length — but at the end of the day, bills would pass or fail on a simple majority vote. In their vision, debate was supposed to inform and enrich the process, not be exploited as a mechanism to grind it to a halt.

The Senate today, after years of abusing an arcane procedural rule known as the filibuster, has become an unworkable legislative graveyard. Not part of the framers’ original vision, the modern filibuster was created in 1917. The recent use of the filibuster — an attempt by a minority of lawmakers to delay or block a vote on a bill or confirmation — has exploited this rule, forcing virtually all Senate business to require 60 of the 100 senators’ votes to proceed. This means a simple majority is not enough to advance even the most bipartisan legislation.

Paul Krugman: Useful Idiots and Trumpist Billionaires

Greed, ego and willful blindness at the top.

Whoever came up with the phrase “useful idiots” — it’s often credited to Lenin, but there’s no evidence he ever said it — was on to something. There are times when dangerous political movements derive important support from people who will, if these movements achieve and hold power, be among their biggest victims.

Certainly I found myself thinking of the phrase when I read about the Trump fund-raiser held at the Hamptons home of Stephen Ross, chairman of a company that holds controlling stakes in Equinox and SoulCycle.

Most reporting on the Ross event has focused on the possible adverse effects on his business empire: The young, educated, urban fitness fanatics who go to his gyms don’t like the idea that their money is supporting Donald Trump. But the foolishness of Ross’s Trump support goes well beyond the potential damage to his bottom line.

I mean, if you’re a billionaire who also happens to be a racist, supporting Trump makes perfect sense: You know what you’re buying. But if you’re supporting Trump not because of his racism but despite it, because you expect him to keep your taxes low, you’re being, well, an idiot.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s claim that he supports legal immigration turns out to be a lie

The erratic Trump administration has had just one consistent policy principle, one guiding North Star: punitive and often sadistic treatment of nonwhite immigrants.

President Trump’s claim that he supports legal immigration, as opposed to the undocumented “invasion” he rails against, turns out to be — big surprise — a lie. On Monday, the administration proved its antagonism toward those who “stand in line” and “come in the right way” by issuing a new rule forcing many legal immigrants to make an impossible choice: accept needed government benefits to which they are fully entitled, or preserve their chances of obtaining permanent residence.  [..]

You may be legally entitled to health care through Medicaid. You may be entitled to food assistance through the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps. You may be entitled to housing assistance. But according to the new Trump administration rule — set to take effect in two months — if you use any of these programs, you might forfeit the opportunity to ever obtain a green card making you a permanent resident. That means you also forfeit the chance of ever becoming a citizen.

Long advocated by White House adviser Stephen Miller, the Torquemada of the immigration inquisition, the new policy is a major step in Trump’s crusade to Make America White Again. If it survives court challenges, the new rule could dramatically reduce legal — I repeat, legal — immigration from low-income countries. Not just coincidentally, I am sure, this means fewer black and brown people would be granted resident status.

Trump’s message to the world: Keep your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. As he memorably and disgracefully put it: “Our Country is FULL!”

Karen L. Cox: What Changed in Charlottesville

For white supremacists, Confederate monuments aren’t about the past — they symbolize a racist vision of the future.

Two years ago this week, hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Va., under the pretense of protesting the city’s decision to remove a monument to Robert E. Lee from a public park.

They were joined by old-guard white supremacists like David Duke, and before they were through, a young man, inspired by this gathering and the white supremacist ideology, drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counterdemonstrators, injuring several dozen and killing a young woman, Heather Heyer.

Until Charlottesville, the debate over Confederate monuments was mostly about history, pitting claims about the preservation of Southern heritage against the monuments’ historical ties to slavery and Jim Crow. What has become crystal clear in the last two years is that these monuments are no longer relics of a horrendous past — they have been resurrected as symbols of white nationalism.

Michael H. Fuchs: Bull, meet China shop: Trump’s foreign policy in Asia is disastrous

Asia’s historical, political and economic landmines are increasingly blowing up, and Donald Trump seems intent on accelerating the damage in ways that could threaten US national security and prosperity.

Things didn’t always seem so bleak. Analysts have long heralded the coming of the “Asian century”. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and others have transformed from autocracies to democratic members of the G20. Today, nations across Asia are innovative economies, flourishing democracies and contributors to global security. Any measurement of GDP size, military might or population illustrate how Asia could be the most important region in the world in the 21st century.

The future of Asia remains bright, but a crippling array of challenges threatens to upend its potential – and could have an immense impact on the US.