Category Archives: PND Opinion

If Republicans repeal Obamacare, will Medicare for all come sooner?

Source: Our Future
by Miles Mogulescu

"Senator Lindsey Graham (who is fast becoming the gravedigger of the Senate, with his last-ditch attempt to resurrect the Republican’s zombie 'repeal and replace' of Obamacare) is strangely framing his action as a bid to kill Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All bill, which is being sponsored by 19 Democratic Senators. Graham has boasted that his repeal legislation, co-sponsored by Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, is the best alternative to Medicare For All, saying 'Hell no to Berniecare.' … 'Bernie, this ends your dream,' he added. The Republicans didn’t need Bernie Sanders (who, while putting Medicare For All on the long-term agenda, has been a relentless fighter for Obamacare) to encourage them to take one more whack at our health system. They’ve been talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act ever since it passed seven years ago, and have voted dozens of times to do so." (09/21/17)

The "somewheres" and "nowheres" in Britain’s Brexit mayhem

Source: Reuters
by John Lloyd

"British politics are a terrible mess. But don’t blame populism, however that’s defined. If anything, blame democracy — however that’s organized. Last June’s referendum result on Brexit was close (52 percent voted for Britain to leave the European Union; 48 percent to stay) but indisputable. Unlike in the U.S., no one believes that Russia altered the outcome. And this was a vote not to 'drain the swamp' of Westminster, but to strengthen it. As Gisela Stuart, one of the few Labour MPs who campaigned enthusiastically for Brexit as the head of the 'Vote Leave' campaign put it, the electors 'wanted to restore genuine democratic government and take back control of the laws that govern them.' Brexit is what happened when people were given a voice. No doubt that many who voted for it were uninformed; some were voting for a better yesterday; many were fearful of the effects of mass immigration – especially of Muslims. A few Britons didn’t want any foreigners at all." (09/21/17)

Trump is Big Coal’s last gasp

Source: The New Republic
by Jonathan Thompson

"Coal. Guns. Freedom. I saw these three words on a little sticker affixed, discordantly, to the window of a car in a small Colorado town. It struck me as funny at first: Coal and guns being elevated to the status of platonic ideals or, even more loftily, the refrain of a bad country song. All it was missing was Jesus, beer and Wrangler butts. A few days later, though, as I sat on a desert promontory overlooking northwestern New Mexico, the sticker didn’t seem so funny. As the sunrise spilled across sagebrush plains and irrigated cornfields, it also illuminated a narrow band of yellow-brown clouds on the horizon. The clouds were smog, a soup of sulfur dioxide, particulates, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants emanating from the smokestacks of the coal-burning Four Corners Power Plant and San Juan Generating Station, on either side of the San Juan River Valley." (09/24/17)

The case for colonialism: Don't retract, rebut … and censure those who seek silence

Source: Bleeding Heart Libertarians
by James Taylor

"In a recent paper entitled 'The case for colonialism' Bruce Gilley argued that 'Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.' Gilley then argued that colonialism should be 'recovered' 'by reclaiming colonial modes of governance, by recolonizing some areas, and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.' These are highly controversial claims. But it is unlikely that Gilley anticipated the antipathy with which they would be received. Two petitions were initiated — gathering over 15,000 signatures between them — demanding that the journal in which the paper was published (Third World Quarterly) retract it.These petitions were followed by the resignation of several of the members of the journal’s editorial board in protest at the article’s publication. But the calls for the retraction of this article are inappropriate responses to Gilley’s controversial claims." (09/24/17)

France and Germany: An aging couple carries on

Source: The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer

"It has been a torpid summer in Europe. Five hundred eighty people died in France in a freakish June heat wave, and Corsica recorded historic high temperatures in August. Yet the political climate has cooled noticeably since the previous winter of discontent. Last winter, it seemed possible that the far right could sweep to power in France, while Germany’s hitherto invincible chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to be facing a serious challenge from a resurgent Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Martin Schulz. The Brexit vote of June 2016 had also put Europeans on edge. With Britain on the way out of the European Union, the election of a vociferously anti-EU party like France’s Front National might well spell the end of the European project. And then there was the stunning news from across the pond. The United States had elected Donald Trump, from whose incorrigibly loose lips fell the assertions that NATO was obsolete, that Europeans weren’t paying their fair share of defense costs, and that the American commitment to defend the Baltic States against Russia might not be ironclad." (09/22/17)

Catalonia: Spanish centralism or self-defeating hubris of the authoritarian mind?

by Thomas Harrington

"Catalonia is, like all societies I know of, a diverse and ideologically divided one. There are many people there that identify overwhelmingly with a Catalan past, the Catalan language and, perhaps most importantly, uniquely Catalan patterns of social organization and civic comportment …. There are other members of Catalan society, and this fact should not be hidden, who identify primarily as Spaniards …. Between them are a number of people who feel both deeply Catalan and deeply Spanish and see no reason why they should have to choose between the two. There is, of course, a well-known mechanism for resolving divided opinions about the future direction of a societies, and for that matter, the future directions of boards of directors and neighborhood associations, just to mention a few. It’s called taking a vote. And it is this simple democratic mechanism — nothing more and nothing less — that a clear majority of Catalans want to avail themselves of on Sunday October 1st. There is only one problem. The Spanish central government, led by Mariano Rajoy and his cabinet of ministers drawn largely from what is often called the 'sociology of Francoism' is dead set against their doing so." (09/23/17)

Want proof that corporate money influences politicians?

Source: In These Times
by Charles Austin

"Ask just about any politician whether financial contributions influence their decision making and you will hear that they’re entirely incorruptible. Take Hillary Clinton. At a February 2016 town hall with CNN, the then-presidential-hopeful said she accepted $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs because, 'that’s what they offered.' She went on to explain why this corporate cash wouldn’t have any impact on her decision-making anyway. 'Anybody who knows me, who thinks that they can influence me, name anything they’ve influenced me on. Just name one thing,' she said. Many critics point to Clinton’s record on Wall Street regulation as a prime example. During her two terms as a U.S. senator, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase were all among Clinton’s top five campaign donors. In 2001, soon after entering the Senate, Clinton voted for a bankruptcy bill that was being pushed by big banks, earning her the ire of consumer advocates at the time, including Elizabeth Warren." (09/22/17)

Google will survive SESTA. Your startup might not.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Elliot Harmon

"Much of the SESTA fight’s media coverage has portrayed it as a battle between Google and Congress, which sadly misses the point. Large Internet companies may have the legal budgets to survive the massive increase in litigation and liability that SESTA would bring. They probably also have the budgets to implement a mix of automated filters and staff censors to comply with the law. Small startups are a different story. Indeed, lawmakers should ask themselves whether SESTA would unintentionally reinforce large incumbent companies’ advantages. Without the strong protections that allowed today’s large Internet players to rise to prominence, startups would have a strong disincentive to grow. As soon as your user base grows beyond what your staff can directly police, your company becomes a huge liability. But ultimately, the biggest casualty of SESTA won’t be Google or startups; it will be the people pushed offline." (09/22/17)

Any white cop can kill a black man at any time

Source: CounterPunch
by Don Fitz

"And the cop will not go to jail. This is what has sparked protests by thousands in St. Louis from September 15 through today. In 2011, St. Louis cop Jason Stockley fired 5-7 shots at Anthony Lamar Smith, killing him. Stockley claimed that Smith was selling drugs and chased him at high speed and shot him to defend himself. The story was briefly reported as another drug deal gone bad, and it was just incidental that the cop was white and the victim was black. But the case turned out to be a lot more than that." (09/22/17)

The real deal Trump has to make on Afghanistan

Source: Reuters [UK]
by Maysam Behravesh

"Donald Trump mentioned Afghanistan just once in his speech to the United Nations Tuesday. His 'new strategy for victory' there, he said, would help 'crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.' Trump outlined that new strategy on August 21, in an address that was a curious mixture of the vague and the specific. Speaking at Fort Myer, the U.S. president announced plans to deploy additional American troops, but did not give details about numbers, policy specifics or an exit strategy. He mentioned Pakistan 12 times (criticizing it for 'housing the very terrorists that we are fighting') but did not make a single mention of the two other countries ramping up resistance to the U.S. presence in the region: Russia and Iran. That was a serious omission on Trump’s part. No U.S. plan for Afghanistan can accomplish even its most minimal objective of destroying militant groups like al Qaeda or the Taliban unless it factors in the mounting evidence that Tehran and Moscow are playing a more aggressive role in resisting the American presence in the region." (09/21/17)