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Oct 16 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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Paul Krugman: Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

Modern conservatives have been lying about taxes pretty much from the beginning of their movement. Made-up sob stories about family farms broken up to pay inheritance taxes, magical claims about self-financing tax cuts, and so on go all the way back to the 1970s. But the selling of tax cuts under Trump has taken things to a whole new level, both in terms of the brazenness of the lies and their sheer number. Both the depth and the breadth of the dishonesty make it hard even for those of us who do this for a living to keep track.

In fact, when I set out to make a list of the bigger lies, I thought there would be six or seven, and was surprised to come up with ten.

So I thought it might be useful, both for myself and for others, to put together a crib sheet: a fairly long-form description of ten big lies Trump and allies are telling, what they’ve said, and how we know that they are lies. I’m probably missing some stuff, and for all I know some new big lie will have been tweeted out by the time this is posted. But we do what we can. So here we go.

Ross Barkan: Trump’s biggest enemy isn’t the media. It’s poor people

Whenever talk turns to Donald Trump’s enemies, the Democrats and the media are always assumed to be at the top of his hit list. This is a man, after all, who cries out “Fake News!” almost as often as he draws breath.

But Trump’s truest enemy isn’t any card-carrying journalist, progressive Democrat, or disgruntled member of the Deep State. It’s any American who doesn’t have much money.

The irony of Trump was always his tin pot populism, speaking to people’s economic anxiety while doing everything possible to screw them over. It’s a testament to his cult of personality that he even retains the little popularity he has.

Trump’s most dramatic move yet to dismantle Obamacare will surely punish many of the poor people who voted for him and the rest who didn’t. It will hurt the sickest and most vulnerable. More than anything else, that is Trump’s modus operandi.

Charles M. Blow: Trump, Chieftain of Spite

It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.

This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.

In fact, if there is a defining feature of Trump as “president,” it is that he is in all ways the anti-Obama — not only on policy but also on matters of propriety and polish. While Obama was erudite, Trump is ignorant. Obama was civil, Trump is churlish. Obama was tactful, Trump is tacky.

There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste.

Errol Louis: Let prosecutors face justice for malpractice

The all-but-certain election of Eric Gonzalez to a full term as Kings County district attorney places a wakeup call to other New York leaders, especially the lawmakers in Albany, to hold prosecutors accountable for the serious problems — not honest errors, but deliberate malfeasance — that land innocent people in prison.

Current laws in New York allow a prosecutor to withhold evidence and even lie about it with few consequences. When our lawmakers reconvene in January, they should pass a law punishing prosecutors who use deception and shady tactics to slant the scales of justice.

Four years ago, Kenneth Thompson ousted longtime DA Charles Hynes on the promise of making convictions in Brooklyn fairer. Thompson’s office then went to work correcting past injustices: Over the last three years, courts overturned 22 convictions.

Josh Rogin: The president leaves Congress to fix the mess he’s made on Iran

On Friday, President Trump told Congress to fix the Iran nuclear deal for him and threatened that if lawmakers did not obey, he would “terminate” the agreement. Yet the administration’s convoluted strategy virtually assures that Congress won’t succeed — foreshadowing yet another crisis over the deal and perhaps a U.S. withdrawal in just three months’ time.

In a sense, the move was classic Trump. As with other campaign promises, including on health care and immigration, the president combined tough-sounding rhetoric about reversing part of President Barack Obama’s legacy with a too-clever-by-half plan to avoid doing the heavy lifting himself. Now Congress is left to deal with the mess while the international community scratches its head.

“I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws,” Trump said. “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.”

Set aside that the United States cannot “terminate” the deal and that if the United States withdrew unilaterally, our allies would likely stay in the agreement without us. What Trump is proposing is that Congress amend the 2015 law originally meant to oversee the agreement, which passed under the expectation that Congress would be checking a deal-friendly Democratic president.