Sep 23 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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Robert Reich: Donald Trump is no hero of the working class. And the GM strikers know it

The walkout at General Motors is a predictable and powerful result of the president’s own kind of capitalism

Donald Trump pretends to be a tribune of the working class, standing up for American jobs. Last week nearly 50,000 General Motors workers went on strike to get what they see as their fair share of its profits and stop further layoffs. Trump’s response? A shrug.

In 2009, when GM was on the brink of collapse, the United Auto Workers (UAW) agreed to let the company hire new workers at about half the prevailing hourly wage and with skimpier retirement benefits, hire temp workers at even lower rates, and outsource more jobs abroad. American taxpayers also forked over $10bn to save the company.

When GM went public again in 2010, it boasted to Wall Street that 43% of its cars were made outside the US in places where labor cost less than $15 an hour, while in America it could now pay “lower-tiered” wages and benefits for new employees.

The corporation came roaring back. Over the last three years it’s made $35bn in North America. [..]

America’s shift from farm to factory was accompanied by decades of bloody labor conflict. The subsequent shift from factory to office and other service jobs created further social upheaval. The more recent power shift from workers to shareholders – and consequentially, the dramatic widening of inequality – has happened far more quietly, but it has had a more unfortunate and more lasting consequence for the system: stagnant wages, abandoned communities, and an angry working class vulnerable to demagogues peddling authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.

Trump didn’t come from nowhere, but he’s a fake champion of the working class. If he were the real thing, he’d be walking the picket line with GM workers.

Greta Thunberg: If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them

We are in the middle of a climate breakdown, and all they can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth

This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you “hear” us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

Maybe 50% is acceptable to you. But those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity. They also rely on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences.

Richard Wolffe: The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get

If you’re wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it

America has a grand tradition of the brazenly dumb criminal: the kind who is so desperately needy that he brags about his guilt.

Back in the earliest days of the new media known as newspapers, a certain Chicago mob boss rose to fame by calling a press conference to proclaim everyone else’s guilt, if not exactly his innocence.

Al Capone claimed he played no role in the gunning down of a young state’s attorney called Bill McSwiggin. In fact he said he could have killed him any time but preferred to keep him alive. “I paid McSwiggin,” Capone said. “I paid him plenty and I got what I was paying for.”

Sure enough, Capone was cleared of the murder and became the darling of an insatiable press pack. If you don’t act guilty, will anyone really think you’re guilty? Especially if everyone else is guilty too.

Almost a century later, Donald Trump has cornered the Scarface strategy. If he didn’t think neo-Nazis were very fine people, Trump could win a Maccabiah medal for chutzpah.

Charles M. Blow: Trump, Unrestrained

America’s vulnerability is exploited by its president.

Donald Trump has discovered that the pillars of this temple we call the American democracy are weak. He’s growing ever more confident that he has the strength to topple them.

The phone call Donald Trump is reported to have had with the president of Ukraine in which he demanded that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, if true, is a shocking example of a president who feels invincible and unrestrained.

The phone call is reported to be part of the whistle-blower report that the Trump administration is preventing from being forwarded to Congress, and by extension, is concealing from the public.

There is no evidence that then-Vice President Biden or his son did anything illegal. There is, however, clear evidence that Trump has broken the law — both in the conspiracies to pay off women who allege sexual affairs with him and in obstructing justice over Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
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But that doesn’t matter to this man. For him, “real” is relative. The only truth, the only thing that matters, is what you can make people believe. Facts are not absolute; they have alternatives.

This is the chief executive officer of the country, and he is single-handedly mutilating it.

Paul Waldman: How Trump survives by finding vulnerabilities to exploit

By no conceivable measure is President Trump a smart person. But he does have certain gifts, one of which we’re seeing in operation right now. It served him well as a businessman and affects almost every aspect of his presidency: Trump has an almost unfailing internal homing device tuned to the vulnerabilities in people and systems.

That’s also what’s driving the Ukraine scandal — and what may help him escape it.

It comes from a lifetime lived beyond the reaches of rules, norms, accountability and even the law. It comes from Trump’s worldview, in which every interaction between individuals, groups or institutions is zero-sum. He’s going to win and you’re going to lose, and in order to make that happen, he is constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities he can exploit.

In Ukraine, Trump found a country that was deeply vulnerable and therefore could be enlisted to help his reelection campaign. Sitting next to Russia, an adversary both highly aggressive and far more powerful, Ukraine needs help from the United States. From the beginning of the Trump administration, the Ukrainians seemed to understand that getting that help required a submission to Trump’s personal interests.