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: Trumpism Is Bad for Business
It’s hard to make plans when the rules keep changing.
With each passing week it becomes ever clearer that Donald Trump’s trade war, far from being “good, and easy to win,” is damaging large parts of the U.S. economy. Farmers are facing financial disaster; manufacturing, which Trump’s policies were supposed to revive, is contracting; consumer confidence is plunging, largely because the public (rightly) fears that tariffs will raise prices.
But Trump has an answer to his critics: It’s not me, it’s you. Last week he declared that businesses claiming to have been hurt by his tariffs should blame themselves, because they’re “badly run and weak.”
As with many Trump statements, one immediate thought that comes to mind is, how would Republicans have reacted if a Democratic president said something like that? In this case, however, we don’t have to speculate.
As some readers may recall, back in 2012 Barack Obama made the obvious and true point that businesses depend on public investments in things like roads and education as well as on their own efforts. Referring to those public investments, he said, “You didn’t build that.” The usual suspects pounced, taking the line out of context and claiming that he was disrespecting entrepreneurs; Mitt Romney made this claim a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
Attacks on Obama as being anti-business were, of course, made in bad faith. Trump, however, really is denouncing businesses and blaming them for the problems his policies have created. And tariffs aren’t the only policy area where Trump and American business are now at odds.
Michelle Goldberg: Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?
In a new book, the pollster Stanley Greenberg predicts a blue tidal wave in 2020.
Toward the end of his new book, “R.I.P. G.O.P.,” the renowned Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg makes a thrilling prediction, delivered with the certainty of prophecy. “The year 2020 will produce a second blue wave on at least the scale of the first in 2018 and finally will crash and shatter the Republican Party that was consumed by the ill-begotten battle to stop the New America from governing,” he writes.
It sounds almost messianic: the Republican Party, that foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce, not just defeated but destroyed. The inexorable force of demography bringing us a new, enlightened political dispensation. Greenberg foresees “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” and a Democratic Party “liberated from the nation’s suffocating polarization to use government to advance the public good.” I’d like to believe it, and maybe you would too. But should we?
This is not the first time that experts have predicted the inevitable triumph of progressive politics. Seventeen years ago, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which argued that the country was on the cusp of a liberal political realignment driven by growing diversity, urbanization and gender equality. In sheer numerical terms they were right; between then and now the Republican Party won the presidential popular vote only once, in 2004. But Republicans still have more power than Democrats, and in 2017, Judis disavowed his book’s thesis, arguing that only populist economics could deliver Democratic victories.
Catherine Rampell: We’re in the midst of Trump’s War on Children
You’ve heard of the Wars on Drugs, Terror, Poverty, even Women. Well, welcome to the War on Children.
It’s being waged by the Trump administration and other right-wing public officials, regardless of any claimed “family values.”
For evidence, look no further than the report released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services’s own inspector general. It details the trauma suffered by immigrant children separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s evil “zero tolerance” policy.
Thousands of children were placed in overcrowded centers ill-equipped to provide care for them physically or psychologically. Visits to 45 centers around the country resulted in accounts of children who cried inconsolably; who were drugged; who were promised family reunifications that never came; whose severe emotional distress manifested in phantom chest pains, with complaints that “every heartbeat hurts”; who thought their parents had abandoned them or had been murdered.
Such state-sanctioned child abuse was designed to serve as a “deterrent” for asylum-seeking families, as then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other administration officials made clear.
Of course, they failed to recognize just how horrific are the conditions these asylum-seeking children are fleeing — conditions that further decreased HHS’s ability to adequately care for them.
Eugene Robinson: Trump’s Sharpie-doctored hurricane map embodies the man
This doesn’t qualify as earth-shattering news at this point, but President Trump showed us again this week how spectacularly ignorant, vainglorious and obsessive he can be. This time, he did it with a clumsily doctored map.
Yes, I’m talking about the out-of-date National Hurricane Center map of Hurricane Dorian’s projected path that Trump displayed Wednesday — a map that someone who clearly knows nothing about weather forecasting or rudimentary logic had crudely altered with a black Sharpie (Trump’s preferred writing implement) to protect the president’s massive yet eggshell-fragile ego.
Gee, who might that have been?
The heartbreaking story about Dorian is the catastrophic damage the storm inflicted on the northernmost islands of the Bahamas, where entire communities were destroyed and there still is no full accounting of how many lives were lost. The ongoing story is the threat of flooding in the Carolinas as the storm plows its way northward. The contextual story is the growing scientific consensus that climate change has made such tropical cyclones fiercer, wetter, slower-moving and thus more punishing than in the past.
But leave it to Trump to make himself the subject of a bizarre and disgraceful footnote. I pity the satirists and comedians who try to make fun of him, because he does such a good job of it himself.
The diversion of military funds to pay for President Trump’s border wall obsession — which is taking money away from more than 100 military projects around the country, just as a junkie’s habit might take money from the grocery kitty — provides an opening to reconsider the extraordinary depths to which Mitch McConnell has sunk to enable Trump’s corruption.
The Senate majority leader has not only assisted and protected Trump in doing great damage to our democracy, for naked partisan purposes, though that’s a major stain. But McConnell also has in effect now prioritized the mission of enabling and defending Trump’s corruption over the interests of his own state and its constituents.
One project that will lose funding as a result of Trump’s wall — which is now being paid for out of funds diverted as part of the national emergency that Trump declared on fabricated grounds — is on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
That project is a planned middle school at the Fort Campbell army base. The Pentagon has diverted $62.6 million in money slotted for construction of that school, as part of the $3.6 billion that has been shifted toward Trump’s wall.