Apr 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”.

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Paul Krugman: Why Don’t All Jobs Matter?

President Trump is still promising to bring back coal jobs. But the underlying reasons for coal employment’s decline — automation, falling electricity demand, cheap natural gas, technological progress in wind and solar — won’t go away.

Meanwhile, last week the Treasury Department officially (and correctly) declined to name China as a currency manipulator, making nonsense of everything Mr. Trump has said about reviving manufacturing.

So will the Trump administration ever do anything substantive to bring back mining and manufacturing jobs? Probably not.

But let me ask a different question: Why does public discussion of job loss focus so intensely on mining and manufacturing, while virtually ignoring the big declines in some service sectors?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Trump’s Budget Director Declares Class War On The American People

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has issued a declaration of class war against the American people. His words may have sounded wonkish or technical, but underneath the coded language, Mulvaney was expressing Republicans’ extreme ideas with unusual directness.

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Mulvaney was asked about Trump’s stated intention to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure spending. (Trump won’t. He will almost certainly propose far less, offer tax breaks to corporations and billionaires, sell off public resources, and then claim the total adds up to $1 trillion.)

“Will Republicans be comfortable with adding to the deficit to pay for a trillion dollars in infrastructure?” Harwood asked.

Mulvaney’s response began this way: “Bad spending to me in terms of its economic benefit would be wealth transfer payments. It’s a misallocation of resources.”
The term “transfer payment” is commonly applied to health and welfare programs, and other forms of public assistance, since the people who receive the payments don’t provide any goods or services in return. Mulvaney is essentially saying that he opposes taxing the rich and using any of that money to help those who are in need.

Robert Kuttner: Two Cheers For The Deep State

A funny thing happened to Donald Trump in recent weeks. He had an encounter with reality—and reality won.

It is one thing to dwell in your own reality during the campaign and to persuade your true believers that real is fake and fake is real. But when you actually try to govern, there is a reality to reality, and it pushes back. [..]

So, the good news/bad news net-net looks something like this:

Good news: Reality and the Deep State stop Trump well short of fascism.

Bad news: We have, instead, a conventional, far-right Republican presidency, led by a stunningly incompetent sociopath.

Good news: The Republican Party keeps fragmenting, into Tea Party and Main Street factions on domestic policy and Putin-apologist and Putin-abhoring factions on foreign policy, and between white nationalist factions and Wall Street globalist factions on economics. That can only weaken Trump.

Bad news: Despite Trump’s faux populism, the Wall Street lock on the political economy has never been stronger. One face of fascism is political dictatorship; the other is a corporate state.

Good news and bad news: Nothing that Trump is likely to do is will change the economic situation of the downtrodden middle and working class Americans who voted for Trump out of disgust with the status quo.

Charles M. Blow: 100 Days of Horror

With Donald Trump’s 100th day in office fast approaching, White House staffers are reportedly trying desperately to “rebrand” the colossal failure of the first 100 days as some kind of success.

Trump’s legislative agenda has been stymied. The drip, drip, drip of negative news about connections between campaign associates and Russia — and Russia’s efforts to impact our election — continues unabated. He seems to have no real strategy for governance other than pouting and gloating. His advisers are at each other’s throats. And the public has soured on him to a historic degree.

His failures so far, I suppose, should bring resisters like me some modicum of joy, but I must confess that they don’t. Or, more precisely, if they do, that joy is outweighed by the rolling litany of daily horrors that Trump has inflicted.

The horrors are both consuming and exhausting. For me at this point they center on an erosion of equality. This by no means downplays Trump’s incessant lying, the outrage of his draining the Treasury for his personal junkets, or his disturbing turn toward war. But somewhat below the radar, or at least with less fanfare, our access, inclusion and justice are being assailed by a man who lied on the campaign trail promising to promote them.

Steven W. Thrasher: The war on drugs is racist. Donald Trump is embracing it with open arms

When I first read the Washington Post story that the US attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, wants to “bring back” the “war on drugs”, I thought to myself: bring back? Where did it go? Is General Sessions himself on drugs? Because, despite a few modest reforms, somebody would have to be high to think the war on drugs has really gone away.

But the framing of an impetus to “bring back” the drug war is the same as Donald Trump’s fantasy of making America “great again” and must be understood for exactly what it is: a white power grab to control black and brown people couched in the restoration of past glory.

Drugs have long been used to scapegoat black and Latino people, even as study after study finds that white youth use drugs more than their non-white peers and white people are the more likely to have contraband on them when stopped by police. As Trump plans a “deportation force”, a war on drugs amped up on raids will help create darker-skinned scapegoats as he rips immigrant communities apart.