PND Commentary

Hillary Clinton, the silly putty of American politics

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Hillary Clinton entered the 2016 primaries as both the Democratic Party's likely next president and, incongruously enough, the living symbol of a past that liberals were eager to relegate to history's dustbin. She was the Wall Street Democrat facing the rise of economic populism; the tough-on-crime stalwart amid an invigorated movement for criminal justice reform; the gung-ho free trader at a time when nearly two-thirds of Americans think trade deals need to be restricted. She was just so '90s. Sixteen months later, Clinton has been reborn as a paragon of twenty-first-century liberalism. She's the Democratic nominee running on the boldest platform the party has put forth since 1972. And after their made-for-TV display of party unity in Philadelphia, the Democrats are stuck with her, for better or worse, in scandal or in health. But as happens in all marriages of convenience, the second thoughts are beginning to set in." (08/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/135756/hillary-clinton-silly-putty-american-politics  

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The myth of the surgical strike

August 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Vijay Prashad  

"From Afghanistan to Libya, the adversaries of the West seem undaunted by Western bombardment. The Taliban advances towards Lashkar Gar in Helmand Province (Afghanistan), while groups such as the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and even ISIS hold their ground in central and eastern Libya. The advantage of the West and its allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel) is its dominance of the skies. None of the groups (neither the Taliban nor ISIS) has an air force or serious ground-to-air capacity. They are at the mercy of the high-altitude bombers (including drones) that can fly over their terrain and hit them at will. But this aerial advantage has a limited ability. It can destroy identifiable targets: what its people on the ground or its eyes in the sky can see. This is possible. What is less possible is to obliterate (without major civilian casualties) the guerrilla fighters on the ground." (08/17/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19394/the-futility-of-air-strikes-in-the-war-on-terror  

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Liberals have wrong fears about Hillary’s #NeverTrump outreach

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"Conservative efforts to portray Hillary Clinton as unusually nefarious have steered the GOP into political cul-de-sacs, from Vince Foster to the Benghazi Committee. Republicans have built up such a vast anti-Clinton hate debt that they’ve become incapable of acknowledging that Clinton is a largely conventional, mainstream politician. Doing so, after all, would reveal the underlying fraud to their voters. Donald Trump is changing all that. For the first time since Clinton was secretary of state, and members of both parties spoke of her admiringly, Republicans are once again able to praise her, or at least vouch for her competence. In fact, more and more Republicans with real clout in conservative politics are announcing they will support Clinton in November, to guard against Trump’s becoming president as a kind of side effect of Clinton derangement syndrome." (08/17/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136102/liberals-wrong-fears-hillarys-nevertrump-outreach  

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Why voting systems must be as secure as the US power grid

August 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Karen Hobert Flynn & Pamela Smith  

"Every American has the right to have their vote counted. The Department of Homeland Security is weighing steps to help safeguard that right. The agency is considering actions to secure the voting process against cyber-threats by designating voting systems as 'critical infrastructure.' In a democracy, our voting systems are critical infrastructure like our power grids, hospital systems and nuclear power plants. The U.S. government maintains its authority based on the consent of the governed. The revelation that hackers, possibly sponsored by Russia, illegally entered the computer system of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as that of the Democratic National Committee, and monitored email activity for more than one year shows the vulnerability of the U.S. political infrastructure. Emails of members of Congress were also hacked." [editor's note: This one's only concerned with who hacked the game, and not how the DNC stole their nomination, so the voters never got to support the candidate they wanted - SAT] (08/17/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-security-internet-voting-commentary-idUSKCN10S08G  

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San Jose’s “Opportunity to Work” initiative gets big endorsement

August 17, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted this week to endorse Silicon Valley Rising‘s City of San Jose Opportunity to Work Initiative. If passed by voters, the initiative would require employers to offer additional work hours to their part-time employees before hiring more part-time or temporary workers. This enables workers to earn enough to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. (Or as George W. Bush once said, to 'put food on your family.') It looks like the initiative will pass. A poll released by EMC Research says the initiative is supported by more than three-quarters of San Jose voters." [editor's note: The downside for some smaller companies is pretty obvious - SAT] (08/17/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160817/san-joses-opportunity-to-work-initiative-gets-big-endorsement  

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Fixing ObamaCare’s critical problems

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Marilyn Tavenner  

"For decades, America has made a commitment to provide affordable insurance coverage to those who need it most. From helping our seniors by implementing Medicare Advantage and the Part D prescription drug program, to helping struggling families and expanding insurance to kids, America’s health insurance plans provide critical coverage that millions rely on every day. Today, millions more have access to coverage, and the number of Americans without insurance is dramatically down. We’ve made real progress, but we can and should do much more. Because when consumers have access to a stable, sustainable market, every American who needs affordable coverage can get it. That starts with fixing critical problems with the Affordable Care Act. The unexpected shortfall in a key program known as 'risk corridors' left hundreds of thousands with reduced coverage options." (08/17/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/16/americas-health-insurance-plans-editorials-debates/88840060  

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Is “free trade” causing job loss?

August 17, 2016
posted by

Town Hall
by Walter E Williams  

"International trade figures heavily in the presidential race. Presidential candidate Donald Trump said, 'Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another, from NAFTA to China to South Korea.' And adding, 'A Trump Administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people. The era of economic surrender will finally be over.' 'Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they love shipped thousands and thousands of miles away,' he lamented. Hillary Clinton has offered her own condemnations of trade and globalization. Some see her stance on trade as little more than typical campaign rhetoric." (08/17/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2016/08/17/is-free-trade-causing-job-loss-n2205309  

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Will Trump fire himself?

August 17, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"Don’t rule out the possibility of Donald Trump quitting the race. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal called on him to clean up his act by Labor Day, or step aside. That’s yuge. If Trump continues to be unable to discipline himself (as all signs indicate), and if Hillary Clinton keeps solidifying her lead, there is a plausible scenario in which his campaign enters a kind death spiral. First, more and more Republicans desert him. Recent press accounts quote senior Republicans saying that if Trump keeps sinking, the Republican National Committee should write off his campaign as hopeless and shift funds to House and Senate races to preserve the congressional fortress. That move itself would only intensify the self-fulfilling-prophesy aspect of Trump’s deepening slide. Trump famously abhors whiners and losers. But lately, he’s been sounding like a man resigned to the idea that he could lose big." (08/16/16)

http://prospect.org/article/will-trump-fire-himself  

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The radicalism of Black Lives Matter

August 17, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Martha Blondi  

Three years have passed since the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin prompted Oakland, Calif., organizer Alicia Garza to write an anguished Facebook post ending with the words 'Black lives matter' -- words that would channel an outpouring of outrage on social media. A year later, the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., ignited a local rebellion of Black citizenry, and a social movement took shape. That the Ferguson Police Department left Brown’s fatally wounded body on the street for hours encapsulates the disregard for Black suffering that continues to drive protest nationwide." (08/15/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/black-lives-matter-history-police-brutality.html  

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After Trump, can the Republican Party be rebuilt?

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Jon Gabriel  

"Four months after Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama, the Republican National Committee released an autopsy report to prevent a similar blow out in 2016. Their recommendations? 'We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too. We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.' The party needed to shed its identity as 'scary,' 'narrow minded' and filled with 'stuffy old men.' Today, most of that report’s authors have endorsed a 70-year-old loudmouth billionaire who has made a mockery of everything they proposed." (08/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/16/trump-republicans-establishment-conservatives-rebuilt-destroyed-immigration-reform-column/88768914  

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Donald Trump and the myth of economic populism: Demolishing a false narrative

August 16, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Anthony DiMaggio  

[T]he narrative of a downtrodden, Trump-inspired, populist-driven rebellion against the status quo is now a mainstay of coverage in the mass media. This narrative benefits from at least some evidence. For example, it is well established that Trump's supporters are heavily working class, with many earning modest incomes, and retaining lower levels of formal education. Findings from a March 2016 ABC-Washington Post survey also find that support for Trump is higher among those who claim they are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their expected standard of living. But it appears that the working-class populist depiction of Trump's campaign and his supporters is heavily exaggerated, upon examination of a variety of recent surveys." (08/16/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/16/donald-trump-and-the-myth-of-economic-populism-demolishing-a-false-narrative/  

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Help stop the payday loan debt trap scam

August 16, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"'Payday loans' are a Wall Street/financial industry scheme/scam that preys on people with low incomes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on rules to reign this in and protected Americans. They want to hear from you. Please join the fight by clicking here to send a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule. A loan certainly was never about getting money just to get by for another few weeks. (You used to have to go to the mafia for that, and everyone knew you could get your legs broken if you did.) ... With financial deregulation a different, much less boring kind of loan industry sprang up: payday lending. Instead of evaluating risk in order to block loans to people who couldn’t pay the loan back, the payday loan industry tries to find poor, desperate people, dangles loans in front of them, and then traps them into a cycle that drains them of everything." [editor's note: Having taken out those loans in the past, and currently carrying a larger, longer-term one as part of my "backup plan," I beg to differ; though expensive, they can be handled intelligently - SAT] (08/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160816/help-stop-the-payday-loan-debt-trap-scam  

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If Trump is going down, he’s taking the GOP with him

August 16, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Earlier this year, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and a maven of the religious right, compared Donald Trump to King David, the ancient Israelite hero, saying that both are 'a man after God’s own heart.' Falwell’s comparison is outlandish, yes, but there is one Biblical champion that Trump resembles closely: the mighty hewn Samson. Like Trump, Samson was famous for his hair, fought against foreign domination of his nation, was quick to vengeful anger, and had a weakness for female beauty. But for Republicans, there’s one aspect of the Samson analogy that should be particularly worrying. When Samson was captured by the Philistines, he pulled down the pillars of their temple, preferring to die while destroying his tormentors rather than live in captivity. If Trump feels trapped by his alliance with the Republican Party, he may very well unleash the Samson Option, going down in a glorious defeat that takes the GOP with him." (08/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136058/trump-going-down-hes-taking-gop  

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In Rudy Giuliani’s universe, 9/11 is everything and nothing

August 16, 2016
posted by

The Intercept The Intercept
by Robert Mackey  

"Warming up the crowd for Donald Trump on Monday in Youngstown, Ohio, former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani offered a glimpse into the alternate reality he has now signed on to by describing the presidency of George W. Bush as a time of undisturbed peace and security for Americans. During 'those eight years, before Obama came along,' Giuliani said, 'we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States -- they all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.' Given that Giuliani's entire post-mayoral career has been based on the fact that he was the mayor of New York City when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001 -- eight months into Bush's first term, and more than seven years before Obama succeeded him -- it was a bizarre mistake for him to make." (08/15/16)

https://theintercept.com/2016/08/15/fact-check-911-happened/  

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India’s new child labor loophole

August 16, 2016
posted by

Michelle Chen The Nation
by Michelle Chen  

"India’s new landmark child-labor bill should be a reason for children and human-rights advocates to celebrate, but it’s the bosses who are celebrating instead. Between the lines of a seemingly progressive law, some loopholes officially sanction child exploitation in one of the world’s major bastions of underage labor. The law on the surface seeks to restrict child labor that continues to pervade unregulated low-wage industries, ranging from brick making to tea harvesting. However, an exemption for certain 'family-based' businesses effectively leaves a soft spot for household-based industries fueled by kids’ cheap labor, including traditional trades like cigarette rolling or cutting cobblestones." (08/15/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/india-goes-soft-on-child-labor  

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White House source code policy should go further

August 16, 2016
posted by

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Elliot Harmon  

"A new federal government policy will result in the government releasing more of the software that it creates under free and open source software licenses. That's great news, but doesn't go far enough in its goals or in enabling public oversight. ... Giving the public access to government source code gives it visibility into government programs. With access to government source code -- and permission to use it -- the public can learn how government software works or even identify security problems. The 20% rule could have the unfortunate effect of making exactly the wrong code public. Agencies can easily sweep the code in most need of public oversight into the 80%. In fairness, OMB does encourage agencies to release as much code as they can 'to further the Federal Government's commitment to transparency, participation, and collaboration.' But the best way to see those intentions through is to make them the rule." (08/15/16)

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/white-house-source-code-policy-should-go-further  

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New World (dis)Order

August 16, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer  

"It is now more than a quarter of a century since George H.W. Bush delivered to a joint session of Congress a speech calling for a 'New World Order.' In it, the president (famous for his skittishness about 'the vision thing') laid out an ambitious vision for the post-Cold War world. Although the Berlin Wall had fallen just over a year earlier, Bush still looked forward to a unipolar world led by the United States, with the Soviet Union as junior partner: 'Our relationship to the Soviet Union is important, not only to us but to the world. That relationship has helped to shape these and other historic changes.' It was a heady time, with the demise of communism heralding for some 'the end of history.' ... There was only one fly in the ointment: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had just invaded Kuwait. But this was a manageable problem, ..." [editor's note: I co-wrote a song back when that Wall fell; it was called "(Whattaya Gonna Do) When Peace Breaks Out." Sadly, it's as relevant today as it was in 1989 - SAT] (08/15/16)

http://prospect.org/article/new-world-disorder  

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Conservatives’ laughable effort to blame liberals for Trump

August 16, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"In the spirit of spreading culpability for the GOP’s meltdown as thin as possible, The Daily Beast recently served up a new theory that lays blame for Donald Trump at the feet of liberal commentators in general, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in particular. The argument is that overheated liberal denunciations of past Republican standard-bearers desensitized conservative and independent voters to the kind of criticism that should’ve been reserved for a uniquely menacing figure like Trump. ... As the full horror of Donald Trump’s takeover of their party has dawned on them, conservatives have attempted, with greater or lesser sophistication, to pass off partial responsibility for his rise to liberals, from Barack Obama to liberal PC culture to Al Franken." (08/15/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136046/conservatives-laughable-effort-blame-liberals-trump  

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Who do you hate the least? Same dilemma for French voters

August 16, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Noah Barkin  

"In Michel Houellebecq's bleak satirical novel 'Submission"' the French political order is turned on its head after the soul-crushing re-election in 2017 of Francois Hollande, the most unpopular president the country has ever seen. ... Nine months before real French voters go to the polls, this gloomy vision (or some variation of it) no longer seems quite so outlandish. Hollande, 62, may be a long-shot to win re-election. But the chances of him emerging as the Socialist candidate for president remain high despite his abysmal approval ratings, now hovering in the mid-teens. Also high, following a string of horrific attacks in France that have made security the top issue in the campaign, are the chances that his main challenger could be Nicolas Sarkozy, 61, the man who was France's most unpopular modern leader before Hollande beat him in 2012 and claimed the mantle for himself. So the next French election could well boil down to a choice between two failed presidents who are viewed with disdain by a majority of French voters, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front." (08/15/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-politics-column-idUSKCN10P0FY  

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My father was killed at a moment like this

August 15, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Yuval Rabin  

"Donald Trump’s utterings about 'Second Amendment people' taking matters into their own hands to block a President Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court picks were a new level of ugliness in an ugly campaign season. In Israel, incitement such as this led to the murder of my father, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 20 years ago. Because he dared pursue peaceful relations with our neighbors, my father was contemptuously called a traitor, and posters of him dressed as a Nazi war criminal were waved at right-wing rallies. After his murder, politicians were quick to condemn the assassin as a lone wolf. They conveniently ignored their role in creating a poisoned environment that led someone to believe that taking a life was a justifiable political act." (08/15/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/14/trump-second-amendment-yitzhak-rabin-assassination-hillary-clinton-yuval-rabin/88723956  

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Flagging the TPP

August 15, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Binoy Kampmark  

"Being savaged by Donald J. Trump on one side of the electoral aisle, and modestly beaten by the Democratic presumptive candidate, Hillary Clinton, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is lying somewhere between near death and miraculous survival. Those breathing life into that unfortunate beast remain politicians who embraced the mythology of free trade while never questioning what was free." (08/15/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/15/the-flagging-the-tpp-the-us-election-and-free-trade-politics/  

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Workers of the future, unite

August 15, 2016
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"Automation will undoubtedly transform the workforce, the economy, and society as a whole. Robotics, sophisticated 'AI' software, and other technologies will cause lasting and profound changes in the future. But that’s no reason to ignore the problems we’re facing right now. In fact, the best way to ensure that we have a more equitable economy tomorrow is by fighting for one today. Two recent commentaries addressed the 'robot question.' One, by Don Lee, ran in the Los Angeles Times under the headline 'Reality check: Manufacturers returning to U.S. may mean jobs for robots, not people.' Lee cites two companies that are using highly automated new technologies to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from China. Because of that technology, far fewer jobs were created by their return than had been lost when they first moved their manufacturing overseas." [editor's note: Mr. Eskow correctly encourages a shift in perspective, toward jobs only people can do, maybe focused on rebuilding "infrastructure" - SAT] (08/15/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160815/workers-of-the-future-unite  

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The “big lie” behind the US unemployment rate

August 15, 2016
posted by

David Sirota Raw Story
by David Sirota  

"When Donald Trump on Monday questioned the accuracy of the federal government’s glowing employment reports, it may have seemed like another unsubstantiated outburst from a famously loose-with-the-facts candidate. But in this case, he was joining a bipartisan chorus of businesspeople, economists and lawmakers who say the monthly employment report is an artificial portrait deliberately airbrushed by statisticians to make the jobs picture look better than it really is. Last week, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 255,000 jobs in July, and that the official unemployment rate had remained at 4.9 percent, the lowest it has been since early 2008. In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Trump derided the report, calling it 'one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.' Though Trump didn’t say so, the larger criticism of the unemployment rate revolves around how it counts (and doesn’t count) the jobless." (08/14/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/the-big-lie-behind-the-us-unemployment-rate  

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Title IX isn’t the answer to gender discrimination

August 15, 2016
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Nick Ford  

"The Washington Post reports that the state of Texas has begun its court case against the federal government for setting guidelines about treatment of transgender students. The Department of Education has stated that because Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for institutions that receive federal funding, that discrimination towards transgender individuals is also illegitimate. This decision, while not having the impact of law, can seriously impact the amount of federal aid that certain institutions receive from the government. One institution in particular are schools where many safety and privacy concerns have been stated by various groups." (08/15/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/45944  

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Things that aren’t genocide: The Iran deal and the occupation

August 15, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gershom Gorenberg  

"'What possible foreign policy purpose could that serve?' That, more or less, was the first tweeted response I saw to the statement issued by Israel's Defense Ministry, which means by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. It equated the year-old Iran nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich pact, which, it said, 'did not prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust, precisely because [the] basic assumption, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to any kind of agreement, was wrong.' Yes, folks, it's 1938 again. The statement was a response to a comment by President Barack Obama. It served no foreign policy purpose whatsoever. But it does serve another, unintended purpose: It spotlights an irrational, maddening, misleading motif in how people (from government leaders to radical critics) talk about Israel: very quickly, the conversation is about genocide." (08/11/16)

http://prospect.org/article/things-arent-genocide-iran-deal-and-occupation  

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