Nov 06 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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Howard Dean: By shirking its responsibility to filter out lies, Facebook is a threat to civic society

Private social media companies must regulate the content on their platforms – in part because the alternative, empowering the state to restrict speech, is so dangerous

Propaganda is often employed by those unable to maintain control without resorting to falsehoods and the demonization of their opponents. Certainly Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and various recent rightwing populist movements across the world have relied, at least in part, on alarming and false characterizations of “The Other” to gain the emotional allegiance of voters.

Again and again, the far right has proven itself ready and able to disrupt democracy with weaponized misinformation and hate speech. Those who believe in democracy have seen our devotion to free speech turned against us.

Now Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in refusing to ban false political advertising from his platform, is in effect defending the far right’s approach. Zuckerberg has appealed to the principle of free speech; he says he does not believe a platform should regulate political content.

That argument isn’t very persuasive. Facebook is a private platform, not

subject to first amendment protections. Every media platform – whether a TV station, newspaper or giant tech company, has a reasonable moral obligation to try to mitigate lies and propaganda.

Richard Wolffe: Gordon Sondland was a perfect fall guy, until he decided to tell the truth

Gordon Sondland was a perfect fall guy, until he decided to tell the truth

In every good disaster movie, we get to meet the easily dispensable character: someone who mixes just enough stupidity with just enough mediocrity to be cannon fodder for the impending calamity.

In the epic shipwreck of Donald Trump’s impeachment, that man is Gordon Sondland.

Sondland first entered this feature-length catastrophe as an ironic counterpoint to the doomed buffoon who has alternately dismayed and disgusted us for the last three years.

To Trump himself, Sondland was once a Never Trumper who first globbed on to the low-energy Jeb before shifting his undying loyalty to little Marco. When neither of those Republican gods were able to confer any honor upon his wealthy shoulders, Sondland did what any principled conservative would do: he wrote a $1m check to Trump and asked for an ambassadorship.

George Zimmer: America needs to seriously tax the rich – I should know, I’m one of them

As a member of the Patriotic Millionaires organization I’ve seen how our system perpetuates gross inequality but now I’m a proud ‘traitor to our class’

If Donald Trump really wants to make America great again, he’d do what our country did when it was at the height of its economic stability and equality: increase the top income tax rate to 90%.

Instead, what we have now is a tax system put into place for present-day robber barons – one that enables the interests of a small number of powerful industries to dominate national policy, for the benefit of only themselves and to the detriment of working people.

Under the current revenue system, companies such as Facebook and Exxon pay a lower rate on their 20 billionth dollar of profit (21%) than the top rate that dental assistants, sales workers, mechanics, telephone operators, painters and postal clerks pay on their average annual wage of $39,400 (22%).

Thanks to Trump and his 2017 tax bill, income inequality has now reached its highest level since the US Census Bureau first began to tabulate it 50 years ago.

As a successful entrepreneur and founder of Men’s Wearhouse, I’ve seen how tax breaks for corporations and the rich perpetuate income inequality.

Karen Tumulty: Independents are pulling away from Trump. What does that mean for Democrats?

The latest Post-ABC News poll has some seriously troubling news for President Trump: A year out from the 2020 election, he is hemorrhaging the support he once enjoyed from independents.

If it hadn’t been for voters who claim no party affiliation, Trump most likely would not be in the White House today. [..]

So which Democrat is best positioned to benefit from the disenchantment that many of these less partisan voters are feeling about the Trump presidency?

Three months ago, the answer was clear. Former vice president Joe Biden was the only Democratic contender who beat Trump — by a narrow seven percentage points — among independents in a theoretical head-to-head matchup in the Post poll.

But in the latest survey, five of the most talked-about Democratic candidates are besting Trump with independents. Biden has expanded his lead over the president to 17 points, while Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) do nearly as well, each leading the president by 16 points among independents. They favor Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) over Trump by 11 points, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points.

In other words, the poll suggests that independents are increasingly willing to vote for a Democrat, no matter which of the most likely possibilities the party nominates. It also erodes Biden’s chief selling point, which is that he is the most “electable” prospect in the field.