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Aug 14 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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Dean Baker: Why Would the Democrats Want to be ‘Tough’ on Trade, as Opposed to Smart on Trade?

Over the last three decades, the United States has negotiated trade deals to benefit U.S. corporations

The New York Times has created an absurd dilemma for Democrats; “how to be tougher on trade than Trump.” This framing of the trade issue is utterly bizarre and bears no resemblance to reality.

While Trump has often framed the trade issue as China, Mexico, and other trading partners gaining at the expense of the United States because of “stupid” trade negotiators, this has little to do with trade policy over the last three decades. The United States negotiated trade deals to benefit U.S. corporations. The point of deals like NAFTA was to facilitate outsourcing, so U.S. corporations could take advantage of lower-cost labor in Mexico.

The same was true with admitting China to the WTO. This allowed U.S. corporations to move operations to China and also made it possible for retailers like Walmart to set up low-cost supply chains to undercut their competitors. The job loss and trade deficits that resulted from these deals were not accidental outcomes, they were the point of these deals.

Robert Reich: The Myth of the Rugged Individual

If everyone thinks they’re on their own, it’s easier for the powerful to dismantle unions, unravel safety nets, and slash taxes for the wealthy.

 

The American dream promises that anyone can make it if they work hard enough and play by the rules. Anyone can make it by pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps.”

Baloney.

The truth is: In America today, your life chances depend largely on how you started—where you grew up and how much your parents earned.

Everything else—whether you attend college, your chances of landing a well-paying job, even your health—hinges on this start.

So as inequality of income and wealth has widenedespecially along the lines of race and gender—American children born into poverty have less chance of making it. While 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents, today only half of all American adults earn more than their parents did. 

And children born to the top 10 percent of earners are typically on track to make three times more income as adults than the children of the bottom 10 percent.

The phrase “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” itself is rubbish. Its origins date back to an 18th-century fairy tale, and the phrase was originally intended as a metaphor for an impossible feat of strength. 

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Republicans, Either Cowed or Clueless, Are Useless After a Mass Shooting

Everything except the gun, everything except the fact that this is a country where the angry and disaffected can buy weapons of mass destruction more easily and with less regulation than you could buy a car.

And again.

And still.

Nine people shot dead in Dayton, 13 hours after 22 shot dead in El Paso, six days after three shot dead in Gilroy. And tears and disbelief and funeral preparations, candlelight vigils and a search for meaning, and talking heads on cable news and T-shirts and hashtags touting resilience in the face of pain: “Dayton Strong,” “El Paso Strong,” “Gilroy Strong.”

And still.

And people asking “Why?” and Republican officials trotting out explanations noteworthy mainly for their uselessness. They blame mental illness, Colin Kaepernick, Barack Obama, video games, drag queens, gay marriage, TV zombies, immigrants and recreational marijuana. Everything except the gun, everything except the fact that this is a country where the angry and disaffected can buy weapons of mass destruction more easily and with less regulation than you could buy a car.

Which suggests a cognitive bankruptcy that defies overstatement. Because while Kaepernick and Obama may be singularly American, this is hardly the only country where people play video games. It is not the only country where they watch zombies on television, suffer mental illness or use pot. It’s not even the only country where citizens keep and bear arms. But it is the only country where mass murder is routine. The only one.

And again.

And still.

Dahlia Lithwick: “Double-Checking” the Second Amendment

A white man “tested” whether or not his Second Amendment rights were still protected—by wandering around a Walmart with an AK-style weapon.

Over the weekend, news surfaced of Dmitriy Andreychenko, the 20-year-old man who thought it would be a useful “social experiment” to walk through a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, wearing body armor, carrying an AR-style rifle less than a week after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Andreychenko was also carrying a semi-automatic handgun loaded with one round in its chamber. And more than 100 rounds of ammunition. When the cops apprehended him, he insisted, as told by the Washington Post, that he had only been “testing” whether “his Second Amendment rights would be honored in a public area.”

Oddly enough, both his sister and his wife had warned him that people might not react well to this social experiment—that perhaps context mattered in the days after the massacre at the Texas Walmart. But Andreychenko told cops he “did not anticipate customers’ reactions,” because, as he told investigators, “This is Missouri … I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”

Or like Texas, maybe.

Ester Shor: What the Trump Administration Gets Wrong About the Statue of Liberty

Americans once aspired to aid the poor and oppressed of all lands. The new “public charge” statute will make that impossible.

It has happened again. August rolls around and a new, harsher set of immigration restrictions emerges from the White House. Two years ago, President Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller rolled out the points-based RAISE Act, which would reduce legal immigration by as much as 50 percent over a decade. Two days ago, the acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director, Ken Cuccinelli, unveiled an anti-immigrant statute that vastly expands the meaning of “public charge.”

Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Cuccinelli came face-to-face with a reporter quoting two lines from Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus”: “Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In response, Mr. Miller blasted his questioner, CNN’s Jim Acosta, with the dire news that “there is no Statue of Liberty law of the land,” pointing out that the poem “was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.” This week Mr. Cuccinelli, facing a similar question from NPR’s Rachel Martin, nimbly rewrote the poem: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

That it neither rhymes nor scans is the least of our worries.