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Oct 10 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”.

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Catherine Rampell:How Roman emperors dealt with government officials abusing travel budgets

At least seven  Cabinetlevel officials, and a smattering of aides, appear to have abused their access to publicly funded travel. Collectively, these bureaucrats billed taxpayers for millions of dollars worth of private jets, military flights, spousal travel and other questionable expenses.

Yet so far just one of them, former health and human services secretary Tom Price, has been forced to step down.

The White House argues that while Price may have misbehaved, there is plenty of precedent for such extravagant government travel. And the administration is right. Government officials were abusing travel budgets long before President Trump came on the scene.

Like, a really long time before Trump — we’re talking ancient Rome here.

So maybe examining how Roman emperors dealt with the problem can offer insight into how to deal with it now.

Eugene Robinson: Trump has more than three years left in his term. What are we going to do?

The truth can no longer be ignored: Donald Trump is dangerously unfit to be president and could lead the nation to unthinkable disaster. So what are we going to do about it?

The White House “has become an adult day care center,” where the president’s senior aides spend “every single day . . . trying to contain him.” That terrifying bit of information was disclosed Sunday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), whose decision not to run for reelection has freed him to point out that the emperor is indeed naked.[..]

The shocking thing is that Corker is merely saying publicly what many others say in private. Trump is not qualified, by temperament or character, to exercise the awesome powers of the presidency. A man who acts like a bratty, vindictive child has been given the power to launch nuclear weapons.

He has three years and three months remaining in his presidential term. What are we going to do?

Dean Baker: Kevin Warsh as Fed Chair: The Art of Marrying Rich and Falling Upward

Since the dawn of time men have married into prominent families as a way to improve their career prospects, but as Jared Kushner can attest, the returns to marrying well have never been greater. We may see further proof of this proposition if Donald Trump selects Kevin Warsh to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

Like Kushner, Warsh’s secret to success seems to rest largely on the family he married into. Warsh’s father-in-law is the billionaire Ronald Lauder, the heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune and a major Republican Party donor. [..]

By contrast, Warsh is a lawyer, not an economist. He worked at the Morgan Stanley investment bank until 2002, when he went to take a mid-level economics position in the George W. Bush administration. Bush appointed him as a Fed governor in 2006, where he served until 2011. Since then he has been a visiting fellow at Stanford and served on various corporate boards.

In his stint as a Fed governor he managed to get just about everything wrong in the events leading up to the financial crisis and in its aftermath.

Robert Reich: Trump and Weinstein

Donald Trump weighed in on the scandal engulfing movie mogul and Democratic funder Harvey Weinstein, accused by multiple women of sexual harassment (Weinstein has been fired from his company). “I’ve know Harvey Weinstein a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it,” Trump said.

Trump was subsequently asked by CNN’s Elizabeth’s Landers how Weinstein’s conduct differed from the conduct Trump bragged about on the “Access Hollywood” tape, where he said “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” Trump responded that the tape was just “locker-room talk.”

Rubbish. It wasn’t just “locker-room talk.” At least 15 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault, and People Magazine Natasha Stoynoff has six independent witnesses to back up her allegation that Trump “pushed her against a wall, shoved his tongue in her mouth, and told her they were going to have an affair.”

Trump is actively assaulting women in other ways. The Trump administration’s Education Department has moved to make it harder for women at universities to prove sexual harassment. Trump’s Health and Human Services Department has made it harder for women to get contraceptives. Trump has nominated 32 men and just one woman to become U.S. Attorneys. Trump’s 2018 budget calls for a 93 percent cut in funding for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Trump and Weinstein are both sexual harassers and predators. But Trump is also president of the United States. That makes him even more dangerous to women.

Pierre Tristam: Pride In “Our Country”? Count Me Out

Five days ago President Trump tweeted how proud he was of “our great Country.” I’m not so proud. At least not this week, or last week, or the week before, when Puerto Rico was drowning and his energies were focused on slurring black football players taking a knee, then insulting a Latino mayor begging for help and doing the same to an entire American island of Hispanics for “busting” his budget before taking us down his rabbit hole to still more abominable levels when he thought proper to throw paper towels at the masses as he deigned grime a sole on a few square feet of Puerto Rican soil for the TV cameras.

We’ve seen these acts from tin-eared dictators of tinpot nations too desperate or poor or habitually repressed and molested by swinish power to know better. We’ve never seen it in this country, not even from governors (George Wallace was a one-hate wonder and Huey Long for all his racism and demagoguery at least did something for the poor) or senators, whose Theodore Bilbo-like roll of dishonor would outnumber that of Roman emperors but couldn’t outvulgar any cubic inch of Trump: dignity escapes him.