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.
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Jim Hightower: It’s Not Socialism; It’s What the People Want
Far from socialism, this is democratic populism, reversing decades of government policies that take from the many to give to the wealthy few
“Socialism,” snarled Donald Trump at a recent pep rally of far-right Republicans. And the obedient crowd of faithful Trumpistas snarled back in unison: “So-shull-izz-ummm!”
And there you have the entire intellectual content of the GOP’s 2020 re-election strategy under Generalissimo Trump—slap Democrats silly with a scurrilous campaign branding them as Lenin-Trotsky-Stalin reincarnate. It’s not just Trump hissing out the socialist label in a frantic McCarthyesque attempt to make it stick by mindless repetition, but also Mike Pence, cabinet officials, Republican lawmakers, right-wing pundits and, of course, the extremist choreographers of Fox News. [..]
The real problem for the GOP, however, is not merely that squawking like Chicken Little about diabolical socialism makes them sound like old fuddy-duddies, but that the so-called socialism they’re attacking is enormously popular with the workaday majority of Americans. Government-backed health care for all? Sure. Why should CEOs and Congress critters be the only ones to get this? Affordable higher education and housing initiatives? Of course, for that helps all of America. A wealth tax on corporate giants and the superrich? Long overdue that they stop dodging the cost of the common good. Restore the rights of labor and restrain the rise of monopolies? Yes!
Many of our country’s largest corporations make billions of dollars in income, use deferrals and write-offs and credits to underpay their current tax bills by staggering amounts, and in some cases claim foreign profits and U.S. losses despite having much of their sales and assets in the United States. These captains of American capitalism are brazenly ignoring their responsibility to their own nation, a nation in desperate need of funding for education and infrastructure and job training.
The corporate tax rate nosedived from 35% to 21% in 2017, but the thirty companies listed here paid only 8.7% of their reported U.S. income in current federal taxes (even worse, an estimated 7.4% if U.S. income were based on a true percentage of sales). That’s $30 to $35 billion—from just 30 companies—that is owed to the American public. [..]
In a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, nearly 90 percent of respondents reported a lack of qualified applicants for job openings. If that’s true, part of the reason is that America’s largest corporations deny us the tax revenue that could be paying for worker education. Corporate greed and hypocrisy are shifting the blame for the skills gap to the millions of Americans being cheated out of job opportunities.
Norman Solomon: Here Comes Joe Biden and It’s Worse Than You Thought
When the New York Times front-paged its latest anti-left polemic masquerading as a news article, the March 9 piece declared: “Should former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. enter the race, as his top advisers vow he soon will, he would have the best immediate shot at the moderate mantle.”
On the verge of relaunching, Joe Biden is poised to come to the rescue of the corporate political establishment—at a time when, in the words of the Times, “the sharp left turn in the Democratic Party and the rise of progressive presidential candidates are unnerving moderate Democrats.” After 36 years in the Senate and eight as vice president, Biden is by far the most seasoned servant of corporate power with a prayer of becoming the next president. [..]
Media mythology about “Lunch Bucket Joe” cannot stand up to scrutiny. His bona fides as a pal of working people are about as solid and believable as those of the last Democratic nominee for president.
But Biden’s fealty to corporate power has been only one aspect of his many-faceted record that progressives will widely find repugnant to the extent they learn about it.
Richard Wolffe: Don’t let its success fool you: Fox News is a mess
Fox News Channel should not be struggling right now. It has just completed its 17th year as the most-watched cable news channel, and its third year as the most-watched channel in all of cable TV. It prints money for its owners, the Murdoch family, as part of a cable division that earns more than $1.5bn every quarter. And as the Chinese and North Koreans like to say, it’s as close to the White House as lips and teeth.
There’s also no doubt that it is lurching from one self-inflicted crisis to another, as its anchors and management melt down in full public view.
Having barely emerged from multiple sexual harassment scandals, it now has two anchors – Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro – exploring the farthest reaches of repulsive commentary that could possibly offend every constituent group of humanity. [..]
The problem is that Carlson and Pirro didn’t err by chance. Their grotesquely offensive comments weren’t some freakish mistake. In the case of Carlson, they were repeated and pathetic attempts to ingratiate himself with a moronic talkshow host, using what he obviously and erroneously thought were jokes. In the case of Pirro, she was reading an Islamophobic script on prompter: a script that was edited and reviewed by several layers of producers. Both sets of comments were entirely intentional.
Shock horror! Wealthy Americans are using their money to buy their children places at elite colleges. An FBI investigation, appropriately named Operation Varsity Blues, has exposed a $25m cash-for-admissions scandal. Coaches were allegedly bribed to declare candidates as athletic recruits; test administrators to change their scores, or allow someone else to take the test for them. [..]
But here’s the thing: the whole system is “rigged” in favor of more affluent parents. It is true that the conversion of wealth into a desirable college seat was especially egregious in this case – to the extent that it was actually illegal. But there are countless ways that students are robbed of a “fair shot” if they are not lucky enough to be born to well-resourced, well-connected parents.
The difference between this illegal scheme and the legal ways in which money buys access is one of degree, not of kind. The mistake here was to do something illegal. Meanwhile, much of what goes on in college admissions many not be illegal, but it is immoral.