Pondering the Pundits

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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Paul Krugman: China Tries to Teach Trump Economics

But he doesn’t seem to be learning.

If you want to understand the developing trade war with China, the first thing you need to realize is that nothing Donald Trump is doing makes sense. His views on trade are incoherent. His demands are incomprehensible. And he vastly overrates his ability to inflict damage on China while underrating the damage China can do in return.

The second thing you need to realize is that China’s response so far has been fairly modest and measured, at least considering the situation. The U.S. has implemented or announced tariffs on virtually everything China sells here, with average tariff rates not seen in generations. The Chinese, by contrast, have yet to deploy anything like the full range of tools at their disposal to offset Trump’s actions and hurt his political base.

Why haven’t the Chinese gone all out? It looks to me as if they’re still trying to teach Trump some economics. What they’ve been saying through their actions, in effect, is: “You think you can bully us. But you can’t. We, on the other hand, can ruin your farmers and crash your stock market. Do you want to reconsider?”

Eugene Robinson: Trump made his visits to Dayton and El Paso all about him

It is not just his stoking of white-supremacist sentiment that makes Donald Trump such a dangerously unfit president. It’s also the corruption, the weakness, the ignorance, the incompetence and the stunning lack of empathy — all of which we saw this week on grotesque display.

What kind of man visits two grieving communities, shattered by horrific mass shootings, and somehow makes it all about him? I covered the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and had trouble sleeping for weeks afterward; colleagues of mine have had similar reactions to other massacres. Yet what apparently lingered with President Trump from his trip Wednesday to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso was the tone of the coverage he received on cable news.

No one expected Trump to play the consoler-in-chief role particularly well; we know him by now and grade him on a curve. His prepared statement Monday on the deadly shootings, which he read from a teleprompter with all the passion of a hostage tape, was about all anyone could expect. But even with my jaundiced view of this president, I couldn’t have imagined that soon after getting home to the White House, he would be tweeting about all the “love, respect & enthusiasm” he was shown and complaining that the “Fake News worked overtime trying to disparage me.”

Me, me, me, me, me. Always me, never anyone or anything else.

Catherine Rampell: For Trump and his cronies, draining the swamp means ousting experts

Once upon a time, President Trump pledged to “drain the swamp.”

This resonated with lots of Americans, who resented the ecosystem of interest groups rigging government in their favor: corrupt officials, revolving-door lobbyists, palm-greasing executives and the network of pseudo-think tanks and analysts funded by industries trying to pass off propaganda as impartial research.

In other words, those who use money and access to accumulate more money and access.

It’s been hard to square these promises with Trump’s recent interest in commuting the prison sentence of pay-for-play poster child Rod Blagojevich, the corrupt former Illinois governor who tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Or Trump’s appointment of so many industry executives and lobbyists to senior government positions.

Or why so many people seeking favors from this administration — a Federal Reserve Board appointment, a merger approval, forbearance of murder — conspicuously stay at Trump-owned properties.

Rebecca Solnit: Our forever war: how the white male hegemony uses violence to cling to power

Mass shootings enforce the oppression built into America’s economic and legal systems and our history

We were never not at war. By we I mean the colonizers of this continent, who waged war first against Native North America’s original occupants and then entered into a state of war to keep kidnapped Africans subjugated in slavery. After the official Indian wars ended, we found other means to keep Native people confined and disempowered. After slavery officially ended, we found other means to keep black people impoverished and disempowered. Those means were forms of war.

We launched a war to steal Mexico’s northern half, a project completed in 1848 with the acquisition of what is now California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona (minus the Gadsden purchase), part of Colorado, and New Mexico. Texas had already been seized by dubious means, in part because its Yankee settlers refused to accept Mexican law banning slavery. Then we treated Latinx people, even those who had been here before “here” was the USA, as invaders.

There’s a long history of massacres in response to slave uprisings and Native resistance, and the police killings of black people and white male killing of Native women might as well be called war by other means. The US began with a declaration that “all men are created equal” that left out all women, and since then its history has too often been devoted to perpetrating inequality. Recent mass shootings driven by racism and misogyny are a more extreme means of enforcing an oppression built into our economic and legal systems, and may be the result of a panic that those systems are not containing others well enough.

Richard Wolffe: Trump could renounce white nationalism – but he can’t pretend he cares

In theory, a president can offer comfort at times like these. But this one would prefer to hurl insults

In normal American mass murders – because such horrors have become so astonishingly normal – the president usually plays the role of some great but helpless comfort blanket.

He may be unable to break the NRA’s cold, dead grip on the Republican party, but he can at least hug the victims to make it look like he cares.

But with this most abnormal of presidents, the whole kabuki has come to an unnatural end. Donald Trump is uniquely placed to do something about these massacres – with or without anyone’s help – yet he is also uniquely unable to look like he cares.

So he visited the victims of the massacre in hospitals in El Paso and Dayton – not Toledo, as he told the nation on Monday – but he bizarrely remained out of sight.

Perhaps it was just as well. Trump is not great at comforting the afflicted, having built his political career on afflicting the afflicted. He’s also not too good at empathy or emoting.