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Feb 17 2017

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: The Silence of the Hacks

The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.

Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?

Nothing.

Eugene Robinson: How could things get worse for Trump?

President Trump is flailing like a man who fears he’s about to go under, and he hasn’t even been in office a full month. His instinct is to flee to the warmth and comfort of his political base — but he will learn that while presidents can run, they can’t hide.

Trump’s administration faces two acute, interlocking crises: serious questions about his campaign’s contacts with official and unofficial representatives of the Russian government, which U.S. intelligence agencies believe made concerted efforts to help Trump win the election; and appalling levels of dysfunction in the White House that make self-inflicted wounds the rule rather than the exception.

The president’s response has been to rant on Twitter and schedule a campaign-style rally Saturday in Florida — both of which may boost Trump’s morale but will do nothing to make his problems go away

Richard Wolff: Trump’s anti-press conference would be funny – if it weren’t so scary

Watching Donald Trump’s freak show of a press conference, it’s painfully clear that we have all made a terrible mistake.

For the last several months we all thought we were watching the presidential version of Celebrity Apprentice. Trump was going to walk into our living rooms, fire somebody at random, and then happily walk out.

In fact, we have our shows all mixed up. This is actually a very long season of The Office, with our new president playing the role of a self-obsessed buffoon who clearly thinks he’s smart, funny, kind and successful.

Trump is the boss we all know so well, and never want to see again. The one winging it at every turn, in every sentence. The one who just read something, or talked to somebody, and is now an Olympic-sized expert.

Douglas Williams: Donald Trump will use every weapon to stamp out the grassroots resistance

Pundits say Donald Trump is “undermining democracy”. But their concern is often just about elite institutions: the media, the judiciary, the electoral system. What is ignored is the effect that the Trump administration will have on the social movements, which serve as pillars of the resistance. If these fall, our democracy will be irreparably harmed.

Democracy extends far beyond the ballot box – it includes the active participation of labor and racial justice movements in civil society. People tend to think that voting and electioneering are the sum total of democracy. It makes sense in a way; media influences public opinion, and the eyes of the media are trained on the horse-race aspects of American politics. But thinking this way misses the bigger picture.

Christian Christensen: Europe’s biggest paper ran a bogus refugee ‘sex mob’ story. What now?

It  was tailor-made for the anti-immigration press: a crazed man wearing a suicide vest “filled with gasoline and gunpowder” enters a supermarket in a small town in northwestern Spain, shouts “Allahu Akbar!” and opens fire. Mercifully no one is killed, but customers flee in terror. The story runs in a local paper, is quickly picked up by an assortment of media in the US and the UK, and then shared widely on Twitter and Facebook. Anti-Muslim figures claim, with heads shaking in sage disapproval, that the attack symbolizes everything that is wrong with Islam.

One small problem: it didn’t happen. [..]

It speaks to the nature of bigotry that fabricated events such as what did not take place in Ourense are so quickly and uncritically picked up by certain elements of the press, and that it is done without the slightest concern for the personal and material consequences of publication.

Kellyanne Conway’s now infamous claim that Muslim refugees were responsible for the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” never got off the ground, yet her savage indifference to smearing all Muslim refugees as potential – even likely – terrorists gives us a clear indication that these lies are meant to infect the intellectual, ethical and humanitarian drinking water of our democracy.

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