Category Archives: PND Opinion

As Mueller moves forward, lingering questions about Comey and Clinton

Source: Christian Science Monitor
by Warren Richey

“The challenge facing Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of President Trump and his associates extends beyond determining whether there was a conspiracy with Russians to meddle in the 2016 election or an attempt to obstruct the FBI’s investigation. In a larger sense, Mr. Mueller must confront the grim prospect that whatever his final conclusions in the Trump-Russia investigation, they will likely be met with suspicion (and possibly rejection) by a significant portion of the country. Rhetoric surrounding the investigation has grown increasingly bitter as members of Congress promote sharply divergent narratives to explain the unfolding confrontation. The message from Democrats: Expect nothing less than indictments and/or a Trump impeachment. The message from Trump supporters: A ‘deep state’ conspiracy is undermining the president and his administration. It remains to be seen whether Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators can cut through the fog and fury of Washington politics to reach a sober, credible outcome.” [editor’s note: Nice to see a respected “mainstream source” reminding us of all this – SAT] (02/16/18)

Taxing innovators to pay for universal welfare is a terrible idea

Source: Investors Business Daily
by staff

“A new ‘study’ in Britain suggests that by raising taxes sharply on Facebook, Amazon and Apple, the government could pay for a universal basic income (UBI) for all Britons. It’s an absurd idea, which is why it can’t be counted out. The so-called FANG companies (the above-mentioned three, plus Google and Netflix) have been vilified now for years in Europe and in the U.S. as ‘monopolies’ (and worse, as ‘predators’). When such strident rhetoric is used by politicians, you know they’re going in for the kill. There’s money to be made in taking down big, successful companies. In the case of Britain, the left-wing paper The Guardian reports, the Royal Society of Arts (that’s right, Arts) recommends that ‘Britain could raise new taxes on Amazon, Facebook and Apple to give every citizen under the age of 55 as much as £10,000 ($14,000) in a form of universal basic income … helping to counter the growing risk of job losses from automation and artificial intelligence.'” (02/16/18)

Had Hillary won: What now?

Source: CounterPunch
by Andrew Levine

“Suppose the polls had been right; suppose that what practically everybody believed would happen actually did happen. Then Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, would be president of the United States, but the Senate, probably, and the House of Representatives, certainly, would have remained under Republican control. In other words, had Hillary won, we would now have pretty much what we had when Barack Obama was president — but with the executive branch less competently led and more packed with Clintonite (neoliberal, liberal imperialist, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later) officials, and with a Congress run by obstinate Republican troglodytes running roughshod over feckless, slightly less retrograde Democrats. Radical impulses would, of course, continue to stir throughout the general population but notwithstanding widespread and deep popular support, to even less avail than before. A Clinton presidency wouldn’t make the blood of high-minded people boil, the way the Trump presidency has done, though, for anyone with the courage to face reality squarely, it would be nearly as painful to endure. That pain would be much less constructive than the pain that is now so widely felt.” (02/16/18)

Is it safe in Baltimore?

Source: Town Hall
by Paul Jacob

“‘Two Baltimore detectives were convicted Monday of robbery and racketeering,’ the Washington Post reported, ‘in a trial that laid bare shocking crimes committed by an elite police unit and surfaced new allegations of widespread corruption in the city’s police department.’ Before reaching the guilty verdicts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise presented the 12-member jury with ‘things more horrible in some cases than you ever could have imagined.’ Test your own imagination: Four police officers, already convicted of felonies, testified in amazing detail to routinely violating the rights of citizens in order to steal cash and property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. ‘In addition to robbing residents, stealing and reselling guns and drugs on the street and filing false court paperwork, the gun task force officers filed fraudulent overtime claims,’ explained the Baltimore Sun.” (02/17/18)

The war on dissent: The specter of divisiveness

Source: CounterPunch
by CJ Hopkins

“A spectre is haunting Western democracy — the spectre of ‘divisiveness.’ After eight blessed years of peace and prosperity under the glorious reign of Obama the Benevolent, suddenly, we find ourselves besieged on all sides by Russian-sponsored sowers of ‘discord,’ disseminators of ‘disinformation,’ inculcators of ‘confusion’ and ‘chaos,’ and other enemies of our ‘democratic values.’ These devilish instigators of ‘disunion’ and ‘distrust’ are determined to deceive us into doubting ‘the truth’ by exposing us to ‘divisive ideas’ and seducing us with their cynical skepticism into questioning the integrity of our political leaders, our intelligence agencies, and the corporate media, who would never, ever dream of lying to us … or so goes the new official narrative being rolled out by the corporatocracy. It is utterly stupefying to watch as millions of Americans conform their beliefs and behavior to this official narrative like Inner Party Members in 1984.” (02/16/18)

When former spies turn into TV “experts”

Source: OpEdNews
by Philip Giraldi

“Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles. There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids. … Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing ‘expert’ for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC.” (02/16/18)

Law enforcement use of face recognition systems threatens civil liberties, disproportionately affects people of color

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Jennifer Lynch

“Face recognition — fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice — is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report released today.” [summary — full paper available in HTML or PDF] (02/15/18)

Why Fed shouldn’t panic over inflation yet, and neither should you

Source: Investors Business Daily
by staff

“Suddenly, inflation is relevant again. In recent weeks, following a strong January jobs report, data showing wages rising rapidly and, now, a half-percentage point rise in consumer price inflation, markets have been spooked. It’s good to fear inflation, but wrong to overreact. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the consumer price index, the widely followed inflation indicator, rose a surprisingly strong 0.5% in January, or 2.1% year over year. That’s still fairly modest inflation pressure, but it’s plainly picking up, with five months in a row now of consumer inflation over 2%. More worrisome still is the fact that the annualized rate for the past three months is 4.4%. There’s no reason to think that’s permanent, but it does get your attention if you own stocks, financial instruments, own a credit card, or have an adjustable rate mortgage.” (02/14/18)

Ban the box: But fix food stamps

Source: Salon
by Amanda Marcotte

“Donald Trump’s administration may be incompetent when it comes to governance, but it’s aces when it comes to unparalleled corruption and trolling. Both were in play with the dramatic announcement that the proposed 2019 budget would take half the budget for low-income Americans’ food stamp benefits (technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and use them to send boxes of pantry staples to participants, instead of allowing them to shop for themselves. It’s almost a given that this was likely a corrupt move to shift money from low-income people toward graft-heavy private contract programs, but it’s also likely that Trump and his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, were just trolling. … The grim truth, and the reason why Trump’s ‘box’ troll was so effective, is that large swaths of the American population still see poverty as a moral failing and believe that people who need assistance cannot be trusted to handle basic adult responsibilities like paying rent or choosing food to feed their families.” (02/15/18)

Trump’s American carnage

Source: The Atlantic
by Conor Friedersdorf

“In his inaugural address, Donald Trump declared, ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.’ He knew it would not. We know it did not. … Trump gave those credulous enough to believe him false hope. ‘The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,’ he vowed at the Republican National Convention. ‘Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.’ But safety was not restored that day. Neither crime nor violence ended. The vow was a cynical ploy to get votes. It worked. And now, sadly but predictably, Trump has been proven wrong again.” (02/15/18)