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Jun 30 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Versus the G.O.P. Zombies

Ten years of failed promises to come up with something better.

Covid-19 cases are surging in states that took Donald Trump’s advice and reopened for business too soon. This new surge — is it OK now to call it a second wave? — is, on average, hitting people younger than the initial surge in the Northeast did. Perhaps as a result, rising infections haven’t been reflected in a comparable rise in deaths, although that may be only a matter of time.

There is, however, growing evidence that even those who survive Covid-19 can suffer long-term adverse effects: scarred lungs, damaged hearts and perhaps neurological disorders.

And if the Trump administration gets its way, there may be another source of long-term damage: permanent inability to get health insurance.

Remarkably, last week the administration reaffirmed its support for a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would, among other things, eliminate protection for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. If the suit were to succeed, having had Covid-19 would surely be one of the pre-existing conditions making health insurance hard, perhaps impossible, to get.

Now, the legal argument behind the case is beyond flimsy: The lawsuit claims that the 2017 tax cut effectively invalidated the act, even though that was no part of Congress’s intention. But with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, nobody knows what will happen. And Trump’s support for the suit makes it clear that if re-elected he will do all he can to destroy Obamacare.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s only campaign promise is to make bigotry safe again

“White power!” shouted the elderly man, raising his fist as he drove his golf cart past a group of demonstrators advocating racial justice. On Sunday, President Trump offered an “amen.”

A white couple stood outside their St. Louis mansion aiming deadly firearms — the man wielding a semiautomatic rifle, the woman waving a handgun — at Black Lives Matter protesters who were peacefully marching past. On Monday, Trump joined that hallelujah chorus, too.

In both cases, Trump offered his encouragement to white tribal fear and anger in the form of retweets on his Twitter feed. There’s plenty of bad news the president might want to overshadow: the explosion in covid-19 cases in Sun Belt states he pushed to reopen prematurely, for example, or the reports that Russia offered bounties for killing U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. But why choose “white power” as the bright, shiny object he wants everyone to focus on? Why not some other, less incendiary bit of nonsense?

The logical conclusion is that, in his desperate campaign to win reelection, Trump has decided to position himself even more explicitly as the defender of whiteness and all its privileges. Certainly, in his ideologically flexible career, maintaining the primacy of whiteness is a rare constant.

Bernie Sanders: A 10% cut to the US military budget would help support struggling Americans

If this horrific coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that national security involves a lot more than bombs

At this unprecedented moment in American history – a terrible pandemic, an economic meltdown, people marching across the country to end systemic racism and police brutality, growing income and wealth inequality and an unstable president in the White House – now is the time to bring people together to fundamentally alter our national priorities and rethink the very structure of American society.

In that regard, I have been disturbed that for too long, Democrats and Republicans have joined together in passing outrageously high military budgets while ignoring the needs of the poorest people in our society. If we are serious about altering our national priorities, then there is no better place to begin with than taking a hard look at the bloated $740bn military budget that is coming up for a vote in the Senate this week.

Incredibly, after adjusting for inflation, we are now spending more on the military than we did during the height of the Cold War or during the wars in Vietnam and Korea. [..]

Will we be a nation that spends more money on nuclear weapons, or will we be one that invests in jobs, affordable housing, health care and childcare for those who need it most?

Dean Obeidallah: It’s not enough to delete Trump’s ‘white power’ video tweet

President Donald Trump on Sunday morning told America who he believes are “great people.” They’re the supporters who scream “white power” in response to those who call the President a racist.

That, at least, seemed to be the message from Trump’s sharing of a two-minute video showing residents from a Florida community known as The Villages driving in golf carts adorned with signs such as “Trump 2020” and “America First.” As these Trump supporters approached anti-Trump protesters, some of whom were holding up Black Lives Matters signs, one protester yelled Trump is a “racist.” In response, one of the golf cart drivers screamed: “White Power! White Power!”
Trump’s tweet was no longer on Twitter by late Sunday morning. White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that the President did not hear the “white power” shouts when he tweeted the clip. [..]

rump’s sharing this video was not a mistake. The President, who finds himself trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by up to 14 points in a range of polls, is simply following his successful 2016 campaign playbook, where he trafficked in bigotry to divide Americans. We saw it from his baseless claim that Mexico was sending “rapists” to calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering America to, during the campaign, retweeting open white supremacists such as one with the name “White Genocide” — another white supremacist rallying cry.
But what could’ve been seen as disturbing dog whistle racist politics by a candidate is even more jarringly out of place in 2020.

Tim Wu: American Companies Are Sick. Here’s How to Cure Them.

Mergers and buyouts work, but they can exacerbate economic inequality. Here are some different strategies.

Many companies in the United States are currently in a particular kind of distress. They have solid business models for normal times, yet as the pandemic lingers they are slowly dying, victims of weak demand or supply problems. These businesses are not broken or fundamentally flawed; their health is jeopardized only by exceptional circumstances. They are not doomed; they’re just sick.

Many of these companies are on the lookout for survival strategies that would avoid a ruinous liquidation of their assets. This means they may be more open than they ordinarily would to private buyouts and mergers. But a wave of buyouts and mergers, though seemingly better than letting struggling companies die, would only intensify the economic inequality that has become this country’s curse.

That is why we need to rethink what rescuing companies looks like in this moment.

The danger is that cure will be as bad as the disease. A rescue of struggling businesses fueled by cheap debt will lead to a restructuring of the American economy into fewer and fewer centers of corporate control. That consolidation, in turn, will increase the already excessive power of corporations and widen the already yawning gap between rich and poor.

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