Apr 12 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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Francine Prose: Sadly, Sean Spicer’s Hitler comments serve as a useful distraction for Trump

On Monday, at a White House press briefing, Sean Spicer surprised an audience of reporters who must by now have grown accustomed, even hardened, to the press secretary’s gaffes, mistakes and dogged defenses of alternative facts. Extemporizing on Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against a civilian population, Spicer explained why the Syrian dictator is more evil than Hitler. [..]

Decrying or mocking Spicer’s massive faux pas, we can stop thinking about the damage being done to our environment and our schools, about the mass deportations of hard-working immigrants, about the ongoing war that Trump is waging against his poor and working-class supporters, about the ways in which our democracy is being undermined, every minute, every hour.

Perhaps what’s most disturbing about Spicer’s remarks is the idea of the scandal – long-lasting, at once destructive and informative – that would likely have ensued if something similar had occurred under more recent administrations.

But so many distressing and horrifying incidents have occurred since Donald Trump took office that our attention span has come to resemble his. The White House Press Secretary forgets or ignores or denies the Holocaust – and it’s just another day in Donald Trump’s America.

Dave Johnson: The Trump Economy Myth and Job-Killing Policies

Making America Great Again; every time a US company hires a hundred people, or even a dozen, President Trump’s support network blasts out the message that this is what he’s doing. Now they’re crowing that unemployment fell to 4.5 percent in March, even though many say this number underrepresents how many people are actually out of work.

Only 98,000 jobs were actually gained in the month, about half of what economists had expected. And even if these new jobs are something to crow about, it’s not as if they have anything to do with Trump.

Propaganda is one thing, but Trump’s actual policies will hurt job and wage growth once they kick in.

Moustafa Bayoumi: Trump’s senseless Syria strikes accomplish nothing

Donald Trump, the man who just over a month ago wanted to bar entry of all Syrian refugees into the United States, now wants us to think that he cares deeply about Syrian children. I don’t believe it.

What I do believe is that our president is a bad actor. He was a bad actor on his old television show, and he’s still a bad actor today. And he’s a bad actor in both senses of the term, which is to say his actions are poorly executed and morally questionable.

Michael Williams: Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

The US military strike against the Shayrat military base, in response to a brutal chemical weapons attack on civilians in the rebel-held area of Khan Sheikhoun, has the Twitterverse and media fulminating over the idea of US-led regime change in Syria. Now to be fair, no one knows really what the president is thinking, not even apparently his chief diplomat or his UN envoy, who have sent conflicting messages. But let’s cut to the chase – this is a very, very bad idea.

President Obama was heavily criticized for not doing more in Syria, but he made a difficult decision that was in many ways the right one. The continuing devastation there cries out for a response; “do something” is the inherent plea. But do something is not a strategy and regime change is a particularly bad take on doing something.

David Klioin: Trump’s relationship with Russia was confusing enough. Then Syria happened

On Tuesday, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, arrived in Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to try to discuss a way forward in Syria following the Trump administration’s airstrikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad late last week.

Syria is directly protected by Russia, which is dedicated to maintaining Assad in power at whatever human cost. A US war against Syria by its very nature risks a US war against Russia.Under any other president that would be scary enough, given Russia’s nuclear arsenal and global influence. But what makes it even more troubling is that it comes during an ongoing investigation into the extent to which the Russian government meddled in the 2016 US election.

Trump, in other words, is playing chicken with Russia even as the nature of his relationship with Russia remains bizarre and unexplained.